People responded like crazy to my Monday column on “American Idol.” You can read cheers and jeers on my VegasLand blog at reviewjournal.com. And since you all care so much about “Idol,” here’s what singers told me backstage Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center.
• Carly Smithson, 24, said in her native Irish accent that she and other married and engaged women on “Idol,” including Brooke White, found it discomforting to sleep alone in Los Angeles hotel rooms.
“So we all ended up — the girls — moving into one room, because it’s weird being in a room alone at night,” Smithson said. “Brooke’s married. (Others have) a fiance. We’re all used to somebody else being in bed at night.”
Onstage, Smithson told adoring fans she and White cried together in that hotel room, thinking they wouldn’t make it far on “Idol,” but they did.
“We were all complete losers about a year ago. Now, all of a sudden, we’re onstage in Las Vegas,” she told the crowd. “I feel like Cher.”
Then she sang a cover of Cyndi Lauper‘s “I Drove All Night,” and behind me in the 14th row, a little girl waved her glow stick frantically, trying to get Smithson to notice her. Sadly, Smithson did not have the ESP or super vision to realize this and did not wave back.
Four years ago, Smithson and her boyfriend, Todd, drove all night from L.A. to Las Vegas to get married on a whim. They stopped at the Hard Rock, where she won $500 on a “Wheel of Fortune” slot machine.
“Which got us the Joan Collins special at the Little White Wedding Chapel,” Smithson told me.
• White, 25, has said she’s never seen an R-rated movie. But she told me she’s also never imbibed alcohol. I asked her if she’s ever ingested NyQuil. Yes, she said. I told her there was alcohol in it.
“Oh, really?” she said. “Like, 0.2 percent or something?”
Actually, I don’t know, but alcohol is the primary inactive ingredient, in addition to an active ingredient called Dextromethorphan HBr, which the National Institute on Drug Abuse calls a “dissociative” drug, according to Wired magazine.
Anyway, White said she was staying positive musically, since “Idol” has springboarded her as a singer-songwriter.
“I’m not saying I don’t want to be big and successful, but my main goal isn’t to be the most popular or the biggest. I know there’s an audience out there somewhere willing to listen.”
• Australian Michael Johns, 29, was walking slowly before Saturday’s concert. Was he hung over?
“A little bit. I’m not ashamed to admit it. I couldn’t ever live here. It’s too much fun. My body couldn’t take it,” Johns said.
He’s planning an album around the end of the year.
“It’s gonna be cool. It’s gonna be a rock-style record, kind of like the Stones meets INXS with a little bit of dance stuff in there.”
I told him it can be tough for an ex-“Idol” TV star to take a career to the next level. As big as Clay Aiken became, he’s been doing some kind of music-on-ice show.
“He’s gettin’ PAID,” Johns said. “Well, I’m not gonna be on ice anytime soon, or doing ‘Grease’ or anything like that.”
• Chikezie Eze, 22, said the best side benefit of being on “Idol” was scoring free clothes, including 12 pairs of shoes.
“I milked this show for all it’s worth,” he joked, “even though I was only on for five weeks.”
I asked him if he’s going to follow Simon Cowell‘s constant advice, that singers need to focus on finding “the song.” Eze said that’s important, but it’s also important to find a tune that’s a “proper fit” for himself.
“He’s right,” Eze said. “But he’s not ALL right.”
• David Archuleta giggles a lot, like a 17-year-old. Oh, right. He IS 17. He was also unbelievably sweet and happy. And he’s a hard worker. The only time he’s taken off lately was to go with friends to spring break at Lake Powell. He didn’t party at all.
“I stayed inside and wrote songs,” he said.
I asked him how he’s picking songs for his first album, which is in the works. As Simon Cowell says, it’s all about recording a good song.
“I’ve been meeting with some good people, some successful people, and they understand the direction I’m looking for,” Archuleta said. “A lot of it is crossing your fingers. You don’t know if you’re going to flop or do well.”
Doug Elfman’s column appears on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Contact him at 702-383-0391 or firstname.lastname@example.org. His VegasLand blog is at reviewjournal.com/elfman.