In the first part of my chat with American Idol season 10 Top 24 contestant, Tim Halperin, we touched on the earlier rounds of his Idol journey, from his initial audition in front of the judges in L.A. to making it into the Top 24.
During the final part of my interview with Halperin, we talked about Top 24 from his song selection to the Wild Card round, what he took away from his American Idol experience, and what lies ahead for his music career.
How did you go about selecting your song for Top 24?
For Top 24, I had a list of about five or six songs that I thought would be really good. And the thing that I wanted to do for Top 24 was show off the fact that I wasn’t a one-trick pony; I wasn’t kind of pigeon-holed in one sound. Up until that point, I had really done slower kind of ballad type songs, which is definitely probably one of my strongest types of songs to sing, but there’s also this soulful part of my voice. I love doing soul/pop rock kind of tunes.
I was looking at Gavin DeGraw, I was looking at John Mayer, and of course that Rob Thomas song. We rehearsed, and felt the Rob Thomas song was just a really good fit for my voice.
Rehearsals went well, I was able to fine-tune it, and I felt like even the on stage rehearsals were going really well. I thought the performance, to be honest with you, went really well. If you notice when you watch the crowd, they really loved it. I thought that it went really well, and the judges thought that it wasn’t my style. Maybe it wasn’t, and I can see where they’re coming from, just because all they’d really heard me perform were ballads. Maybe I should have stuck with that sound for my first round, before I ventured off into something else.
For me, I have no regrets with that song choice. The other thing that was kind of hard to deal with was when Ryan asked Steven what type of song I should have picked and he said John Mayer or Jason Mraz, when in fact, John Mayer co-wrote that song that I sang and played guitar on the track. So that was kind of frustrating to hear.
I felt like all the way through I had good performances. I feel really lucky to have done that.
You play piano, so I am wondering at what point did they tell you that you guys were not going to be using instruments for that first performance?
They told us well in advance, and you know it’s hard, but at the same time I don’t think I would have used the piano even if I was able to. In my mind looking back on it, if I was able to it probably would have been a good thing, because piano kind of set me apart. But, I wanted to show the fact that I wasn’t stuck behind my instrument. A lot of flack that contestants have gotten in the past that play instruments is that they can’t perform without it. I wanted to show that I was very comfortable on stage and very comfortable performing without [playing piano], which I feel like I was able to prove. I thought the performance was for sure really good. Yeah, we knew well in advance that we couldn’t use instruments.
Was it that you couldn’t use it for that one performance or was it a stipulation for the season?
It’s decided on a round by round basis. I’m not even sure what’s going on this time. It’s the same as it’s been in the past, certain rounds people are allowed to use instruments and certain rounds, and certain rounds they’re not.
My thought is just because last season, there were so many people using instruments, and the responses were that they were using them as a crutch. So, my thought is that they probably won’t let people use instruments as much this year.
I was just wondering about that, because we saw a few people that had used instruments in earlier rounds get eliminated last week. And I figured because the last three winners (David Cook, Kris Allen and Lee DeWyze) all fall under that blanket category of singer-songwriter is possibly why Idol seems to be looking for pop star, rather than the singer-songwriter type this season.
Yeah, that could be it. But at the same time, the people in the Top 13 are definitely all extremely talented. Is it hard being a singer-songwriter and not being able to use your instrument? Yeah, you know it is. At the same time, I feel like I got what I wanted out of it. Because I do play an instrument and I have experience, now it’s going to be really easy for me to make the transition back into putting out a record and doing shows again.
So, you guys taped your performances Friday, February 25, the performances aired Tuesday, March 1, and then finally the results were Thursday, March 3. How was the wait period during from that Friday until the following Thursday?
Definitely, I became a more patient person throughout this whole process. There’s a lot of waiting around. For me, it was hard because I finished my performance, and then hearing the judges’ feedback, I was going oh…crap. Who knows how America is going to respond to this, because a lot of the times the judges have a big influence on how America votes based on what they say. That was a hard thing for me sitting there going, you know I’ve had great performances, but based on the judges’ remarks, it could be bad in terms of voting for me. So, that was the worst. Just kind of sitting back and waiting, not knowing how America would respond.
Where were you watching the show on Tuesday and Wednesday?
Wednesday we didn’t even get to watch the show, but Tuesday I watched it with Casey (Abrams), Lauren Turner, and a couple other people at the hotel.
Did you know about the Wild Card round in advance, and were you hoping that you would get a second chance to advance to the next round?
I did know the Wild Card was going to happen. I was really hoping I would get a shot at it, but it wasn’t in the cards.
So, if you had made it into the Top 13, had you already picked your song out for this week?
Yeah, I did have a song picked out for this week. I can’t say what it was, but it was something that had never been cleared before in Idol history. It was cleared by Jimmy Iovine, himself. I was super excited about this upcoming week. That was probably one of the hardest part, knowing that I couldn’t perform the song that I was going to perform. You know, it is what it is. For me, as soon as I got cut, there wasn’t really a moment where there were tears or I was down. I’ll definitely be processing some things, but for me, it’s like I’ve got to move forward now and keep doing what I love doing.
What would you consider to be your overall standout moment on the show?
I think overall, my standout moment was definitely Vegas. Just because that is the best representation of what kind of music I’m going to put out as an artist.
Which contestant were you closest to while you were on the show?
I roomed with Jacob (Lusk) day one from Hollywood Week. That’s just how it worked out, which is hilarious. It’s great, cause that never happens. Almost never will you and your roommate make it all the way to Top 24 together. Just naturally I spent a lot of time with Jacob and I have so much respect for that guy. He’s an incredible talent, he’s got a great heart, and we became very close. I also got to be good friends with Casey. We’re just very similar. We have the same weird sense of humor and we both kind of come from a musical background.
What will you remember the most about your Idol experience this year?
The thing I’ll remember most is the people. You go through this crazy roller coaster of emotions through this experience, and you just automatically get close to the people around you.
From an artist’s standpoint, it was so validating for me and encouraging to get to that Top 24, and to hear from the best in the business that I have what it takes, and that I have a good voice.
What did you think about the judges?
I thought the judging panel was great Idol needed something that would change the feel of the show and make it fresh. It was so refreshing this year because, you feel like you weren’t out there to be made fun of or to get hurt. You feel like the whole time they really were caring about your individual Idol journey. They were really just on and off the cameras very polite, very kind, and very supportive. That was really great.
Did any of the judges give you any parting advice?
Not really. I will say this, I was very impressed with Ryan Seacrest. He didn’t have to, but he thanked every single person that got cut after the show. That was very impressive and very professional.
The judges, I will say that throughout it was very validating. I knew, especially Jennifer, when she spoke that she truly meant the words she was saying. And the fact that she said that I had one of the most beautiful voices she’s ever heard, that was just one of the greatest things that I could’ve gotten out of this show. The whole experience just gave me the confidence to go on and move forward.
You released a song shortly after Thursday night’s show called, “The Last Song,” and that was the same song that you performed in your final audition in front of the judges, right?
Yeah, like I said I was working on a full-length album before Idol happened, and that was the first song we recorded. It’s actually going to be on my record that’s coming out in September. I’m actually going to be just giving that song away, just as a thank you.
The biggest part about my story is that I’ve always given back. Prior to Idol, I was doing a lot of stuff for Susan G. Komen For the Cure. I recorded a song and gave them all the profits from iTunes. I wanted the show to be about my talent, but I want people to know now is that I love giving back. The first thing I want to do is give back and give [the fans] the first song from the record. I was just really encouraged by the amount of support I got. I’m so excited to keep playing shows and getting back on the road.
On the topic of your fan base, is it easier to keep in contact with everyone through Twitter, Facebook and all that?
Yeah, it’s crazy. I’ve always loved communicating with people. Twitter and Facebook, I’ve just naturally gravitated towards them. Even before Idol, I was able to just build up a fan base, because I do the one on one thing. If somebody takes the time to send me a message, well obviously with the Idol thing I can’t respond to everything, because it’s crazy how many people have reached out to me during it. I really do my best to try and stay connected with people who are on Twitter and Facebook. Even today, I’ve probably already responded to 10 or 15 tweets.
I really value connecting with people. I think that in this age, especially with the digital music business, you’ve got to do that. You’ve got to connect with people on a more individual basis. I think it’s really important.
With your album coming out in September, and “The Last Song” being released, what else can we expect to see from you?
You can expect me working as hard as I possibly can. I’m going to do all that I can until I’m able to put out the album. You’ll see some YouTube videos coming. Any kind of shows that I can get approved, I’m thinking about playing smaller types of rooms. The thing about Idol is, after people see somebody on Idol that they really connect with, they kind of crave that more intimate interaction with them. They want to be able to see them up close and in concert. So, I think for me it would be really cool to do some shows just in really small venues in bigger cities. I did some touring before Idol, and I think that would be really cool if that worked out.
Before we wrap up, do you have any words for the fans that have been showing their support for you?
Of course thank you, but also I want to make it clear that I do music, because I love it. And also I love connecting with people through music and giving back. So expect a lot of that from me. I really do value all the people out there who supported me.