“American Idol” host Ryan Seacrest summed it up in three words: “The drama continues.”
It was only midway through last week’s episode, but the tension was full tilt. New Orleans contestant Quentin Alexander had just sung his first song of American Classics night, Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way.”
Judges Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban gave their thumbs-up to the performance, but fellow New Orleanian and judge Harry Connick Jr. had some criticisms, noting that he thought Alexander’s vocals were drowned out by the rocking of Rickey Minor and the band, and that Alexander should have changed up the original arrangement of the song to make it his own.
When Seacrest asked what Alexander was thinking at hearing those comments, the young singer didn’t hold back.
“This sucks,” Alexander said, motioning to the bottom two chairs, occupied by Rayvon Owen, of Richmond, Virginia, and Alexander’s close friend and New Orleans transplant Joey Cook.
Alexander expressed dismay at having to say goodbye to yet another great singer and friend.
“I think it’s highly disrespectful,” Connick said of how Alexander was acting.
Alexander later clarified that he was not disrespecting the show, but was upset that someone else he had grown close to had to go. He and Connick shook hands.
“After the situation happened, I pretty much let it go,” Alexander said from Hollywood on Monday. “It wasn’t something that I felt was so bad it was worth dwelling on, and I had another couple of days to focus on. I pretty much just immediately went into work mode again, and started focusing on this week’s performance.”
Alexander said in the exchange he was simply expressing his hurt.
“I really was just going through a lot of emotions, you know, before I went on stage. I was feeling kind of a lot of anxiety from Joey already being in the bottom, and being scared they were going to put us up against each other. But when my name got called and hers didn’t I got relieved, but then it went back to, ‘Oh my God, she’s still sitting over there.’
“So I went through my performance. While I was on stage that was still on my mind and then right afterwards, you know, when Ryan asked, that was the first thing that came out of my mouth.
“I tried not to say anything. At first, I didn’t want to say anything, but once he asked, I pretty much told him that you know, it sucks that two people I’ve grown close to, one of them may be getting torn away from the family.”
Alexander explained that being around each other 24/7, the contestants build friendships and bonds.
“It kind of turned into something else, which I never expected it to, but the way that Harry acted, I’m almost glad that he did react that way, just because it gave me the real opportunity to not only clarify what I meant for him, but for the people watching at home who may have thought the same thing that he did.”
Alexander said being from the same city isn’t giving him any edge or particular challenge from Connick.
“Harry definitely treats everyone the same, for the most part. He’s doing his job, which is what he does best, giving criticism only to help us, and ultimately that’s what he felt that he was doing, and I can’t be upset with him for it,” he said.
Alexander offered his reasoning for not changing up Kravitz’s tune.
“We were doing classics and to keep the respect for the song, and for the arrangement, and for the artist, I didn’t change anything. I go into every week with people expecting me to do some crazy arrangement. I didn’t want to do that this week; I just wanted to stay true to the whole classic feel.”
Up this week for the six remaining contestants: arena anthems. The singers were given a list of 40-50 songs to choose from.
“I picked songs that would fit me if I manipulated them correctly. We’ll see what it sounds like with the band today. That’s when the excitement kicks in,” Alexander said.
The 21-year-old singer also had a message for fans.
“I want to thank everyone yet again for getting me this far. I just hope regardless of what happens, they still stand behind me, because I do it all just for you guys, as well as myself, and it just wouldn’t be right without them.”