The first three members of this season's "American Idol" Top 12 had a conference call on Thursday morning with a slew of reporters (even if outlets like MTV News try passing off the interviews as their own).
I had a set question for Alexis Grace, Michael Sarver and Danny Gokey, a question that seemed perfectly appropriate: Since this season's Top 36 format will include a Wild Card round of contestants who didn't advance out of their respective groups, which eliminated singers from Group One would they like to see get a second chance?
Yeah, I'll grant you it's a slightly loaded question. As Sepinwall tells me, it's like asking them to pick their favorite children.
There were still myriad possible safe havens where the singers could have directed their answers. I mean, we're all assuming that Anoop Desai finished fourth (if we guess that Danny was the top male votegetter and Michael was third, with Anoop only 20,000 votes behind), so somebody could have named him without a risk. Or somebody could have suggested Stevie Wright and referenced her youth and talent and the judges' mixed signals. Everybody felt bad for Stevie on Tuesday, so nobody would have begruded a little pity. Or somebody could have advocated for Tatiana Del Toro, just because she's such great TV.
Click through for their actual responses...
Alexis was up first and replied, "That is a tough question because everybody was good in our group. I mean I would have said that could be Top 12 right there. The thing about our group that was in, everybody has something different to offer to America. So, I mean it’s really up in the air. I mean I wouldn’t even know where to begin with that one."
No specific names, though?
"No. Honestly, I enjoy everyone from Anoop to Jackie to Casey to Ann Marie. I mean I really enjoy everyone’s voice."
Michael Sarver got my question next and he stayed admirably on message.
"Oh, gosh. That is a big-time loaded question. I would be doing myself a disservice by even answering a specific person because I tell you; I really thought that this first team could have actually been the Top 12 of the show. So, anybody out of this group that makes it, I would not be disappointed at all."
By this time, I'd figured out how this was going, so I had an unrelated follow-up question to make sure somebody was getting something useful out of my question time. Michael had previously mentioned that he was a big fan of "Idol" since the very first season.
Why, then, was this year the right year for him to try out?
"That is a very excellent question," Michael said, relieved that I hadn't kept pushing on the Wild Card question. "I've been watching 'Idol' over the years and never felt the option to go for Idol. I believe it had to do a lot with knowing somewhere inside of me that I still had a lot of growing up to do. This year, my sister-in-law voiced her desire to try out and she said something to me and it really just hit me all of a sudden - let’s do that. We did and I made it and for some reason, it was just a moment and a right time and a right moment in my life that just fit and it never fit before. I moved on it knowing it was the right time for me and obviously, it’s working out."
With Danny Gokey, I had an obvious transition point. He'd just referred to the amazing talent that was being sent home.
If that's the case, who does he think deserves another shot?
"Honestly, I think they all do. I really do. I really think that every single one of them does, but I-- Only three, at this point, get a chance. So, I mean I’m just so sad to see them go."
Again, I had my follow-up ready, this time asking how Danny was able to keep his cool on Wednesday night's show with bundle-of-nervous-energy Tatiana Del Toro standing next to him.
"With Tatiana, you expect the unexpected," Danny said. "She really is a great person. I mean she wants it so bad and you see the desire and the passion in her and I think at times, that’s maybe her image on TV. But yes, I maybe looked calm and cool, but I wasn’t on the inside. I have family members say that I looked that way, but I have to be honest, man. On the inside, I feel kind of like a wreck."
So it was just about keeping up appearances?
"I really try to keep the look," Danny said. "I try to. I just hope it doesn’t come off the wrong way to the American public or the voters... It’s just that my whole thought process at that time was... I was preparing myself to go home. I really was because I just said 'Anything can happen. Anything’s possible.' Tatiana showed up that night when she sang and I think she had the surprise element. So, I said, 'No matter what, I got my message across that I wanted to get across to people.' I wanted to go out gracefully."
Instead, he's in the Top 12.
More from the Alexis/Danny/Michael interviews later in the weekend. I just wanted to update y'all on a failed interview strategy that will not be reinstituted next week.
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