Although he was the first American Idol contestant eliminated from this season’s Top 12, Brandon Rogers hasn’t generated the kind of enmity that early Idol rejects often produce. The former background singer — as he’s invariably [and accurately, I guess] been described — had the bad fate to produce ambivalence where the contest’s top contestants (Melinda and Lakisha, mostly) are getting love and its lesser lights (Poor, poor Sanjaya) are hearing cruel words. Brandon’s always seemed like a good guy, not that that’s ever had anything to do with being an Idol success.
Oh and it didn’t help that Brandon’s a guy on a season dominated by women, or that he went first (a deadly slot for forgettable performers) in an exhausting two-hour Tuesday episode or that he blundered the lyrics amidst an already pitchy performance. Let’s just say that Brandon knew he was going home.
Actually, we don’t have to say it. Brandon was perfectly willing to admit that he knew his fate both during Wednesday (March 14) night’s results show and talking to reporters on Thursday morning.
"What was going through my head is, I absolutely knew it was coming," he says. "I really felt at peace with the decision."
A few highlights of Brandon’s remarkably polite exit interview:
On what he’d do differently: If I had to do it over again, I would probably pick better songs that showed the range, and I think some of the bigger qualities of my voice. I think I would have done a better job of making myself stand out vocally, like I think a lot of people were waiting for me to do. I never quite did that. But, then again, I have no regrets. Just songs that I like and love to sing, but I didn’t necessarily picked songs that showed up my voice as best as I could have.
On forgetting the words: It’s actually kind of funny because I wish I could chalk it up to nerves, or pressure, or going first, as a lot of people speculated. But honestly, it was me having too good of a time. Honestly, I went out there and had a great time. I did my little dance, my little hip shimmy. And the crowd screamed, and that was the loudest the crowd has been that whole time in the competition, and I was like, "Whoa, this is awesome. What the heck am I worth?" I completely lost the line and my mind went blank. I reverted to a different version of the song, and just paused and waited for my opportunity to jump back in. I did so as best as I could.
On whether it’s back to the background for him: I think this gave me the confidence to seek a solo career. I’ve said this before, when you’re a little kid, you don’t dream of being a background singer. It’s a great job and I love every second of doing it. But on the same page, I’ve always wanted to be on that big stage and to get a taste of that is a little too sweet to let that slip away and be relegated to the background once again. So I’m excited to continue going forward on the solo path.
On post-elimination advice from the judges: They all came up to me after I got voted off the other day, and nothing, but positive stuff. They all told me it was my song choice and it was not my singing, and not my ability. It’s all about song choice. I didn’t choose the right songs. And in retrospect being 20/20, hindsight rather, I know that to be true. I know I didn’t pick songs that best displayed what I can do. I had the luck of choosing a good song for the first audition, "Always on My Mind." Honestly, maybe that was a bad song choice because it made them hold me to that standard, and I never quite lived up to it.
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