The top 25 on “Idol” season 11 features two Georgians: Phil Phillips of Leesburg and Aaron Marcellus Sanders of Atlanta.
We will hear the 13 guys on Tuesday and 12 women on Wednesday. On Thursday, the top 12 (or like last year, 13) will be named. Fox has not released how it will work but I presume the top 9 or 10 will be from the public votes and the final three will be “wild card” picks from each judge. We then go straight into the live final rounds next week and the way things are scheduled, it appears a top 13 is likely.
Last week, I talked to Phillips and Marcellus.
Here are bits from the Phillips interview:
Where the 21-year-old performs: mostly Albany and Valdosta. He has never performed in Atlanta, though he has visited.
Began performing at age 17: “I just want to get out there and play bigger places. I’m not the bar scene type. I’d rather play restaurants and festivals.”
“Idol” as an outlet: “”This isn’t really my type of show. It’s more pop. I feel like they saw something in me that’s different. I’m trying to do something different. I just feel so blessed to get this far.”
Has he ever met Luke Bryan, who is from Leesburg, too? “He did a concert back when he was just getting famous. I said hey to him. He seems like a really nice guy. I didn’t know him personally.”
His style: “It’s jazz and rock mixed together. I’m trying to do my own thing. I’m not going to try to be something I’m not. I want to tell the world stories I have. I hope they can connect.”
What’s the quirkiest thing about her? “I’m kind of strange. When it comes to being in front of the camera, I get nervous. I hate talking, doing interviews. I don’t want to say something stupid.”
The Dave Matthews comparison? “I love Dave Matthews. I am into John Butler and Damien Rice. Also Johnny Long. Those kinds of musicians. They don’t give a crap what the world thinks, just do their own thing. Dave is awesome. I feel like I’m a little different from Dave in the songs I do, the way I write my original songs. Still, he’s an inspiration for me.”
His family: mom’s a secretary in the school system and dad owns a sporting goods store. He has two sisters. Everybody sings. “I had a great childhood.”
Life with the same first and last name: “It’s my dad’s name. I’m a junior. They wanted to keep the name in the family. I don’t have a problem with it. People called me P Squared. Philly Cheesesteak.”
You might vaguely remember Aaron Sanders from season 10. That is his actual last name. But he has been using Aaron Marcellus professionally as a musician so he made sure “Idol” has him identified as such this time around.
Marcellus, who was born and raised in Decatur, has been given the “montage” treatment by “Idol” thus far. We’ve heard bits of his singing but no back story. We didn’t even get to hear any of his “sing for your life” performance.
This places him at a major disadvantage to garner votes and will place greater weight on his one live performance Tuesday than it would for, say, Reed “the Idol producers love me” Grimm.
After interviewing him, I can see why “Idol” did not focus on him. He has a solid R&B voice but not a terribly interesting back story or quirky nature. He seems like a perfectly pleasant 27-year-old musician, who moved to Teaneck, N.J. two years ago with his brother Will Pierre, who is 31, to pursue a singing career. “We’ve been trying to be performers our entire lives,” he said.
His first trip to “Idol” was season 7. He made it top 50. He tried seasons 8 and 9 but didn’t get as far. He made it to the top 40 last year, season 10. This year, he landed in the top 25. Since this was his third trip to L.A. for “Idol,” the others called him the “Hollywood vet.”
At age 27, he said if he didn’t make it this far again, he isn’t sure if he would have tried again at age 28, his last chance. “Thank God I didn’t have to,” he said.
He said season 7, he didn’t quite know who he was. He had learned versatility but hadn’t put enough of himself into his singing. He recalls Simon Cowell telling him he “didn’t stand out.” He feels he has gotten better. “I’ve learned to let Aaron in and be more aggressive with who I am as an artist. I’m a soul singer, a pop soul singer. Every year, I’ve gotten better at that. I’m the package now.”
Marcellus didn’t want to dwell on his lack of airtime. “I’m just grateful to be here,” he said. I’m not one to complain. On Tuesday, I will be introduced to America.” His song choice, he said, “is a little different from what everybody else is doing. It’s my chance, my two minutes to just say hi, ‘I’m Aaron Marcellus. Can we take this journey together all the way to the end?’ ”
He is a single guy, “married to my music,” he said. “I’m very focused right now.”
By Rodney Ho, Radio & TV Talk