American Idol Syesha's Exit Interview: Even She Thought Happy Feet Song Was Weird
In her exit interview press conference after getting ejected from American Idol Wednesday, Sarasota native Syesha Mercado confirmed something this critic suspected from the moment she finished her performances Tuesday.
Producers' decision to have her sing a song from the animated film Happy Feet was awfully odd, indeed. (See it here)
"I was like, 'That's strange'...most of the song was backup singing," said Mercado, who faced reporters by telephone conference call Thursday. "It was weird, because most of the song, I wasn't supposed to sing."
After that performance, Mercado said she knew she was leaving Idol. "I got too many bad comments from the judges to keep me there. So I accepted what was, and I moved on. And I made peace with it."
Mercado insisted during the call that she and her family were fine with the turn of events, even as some reporters noted she seemed to embody the Idol ethic of flowering as a star during the competition and producers' seemed to sabotage her performance by forcing her to sing that awful song.
As she said during her Tampa Bay publicity tour, initial problems with her voice freaked her out a bit and kept her from getting comfortable on the show until later. But that became a lucky turn, allowing her to continually raise her game each week as other contestants burned out or crumbled under the strain.
What seems obvious: a big part of suceeding on Idol is dealing with the stress of the competition. "I separated that fine line, between overworking and doing so much to point you're unfocused, not enjoying yourself, and doing enough and trusting yourself and letting go and tasking it all in. So my goal every week was to feel satisfied after every show."
So what will her first album sound like? "I’m like a black Christina Aguilera/Alicia Keyes. I definitely can see myself putting together a Christina Aguilera album, the one that she just recently did – and an Alicia Keyes album like The Diary of Alicia Keyes. I’m definitely into a lot of the – I like pop, and I like R&B, and I like the old school/new school thing. So I’m growing as an artist. I’m evolving. And I’m glad that I did do American Idol because people were able to see that transition that I went through, and I’m still learning more about myself everyday."
It's well known that Mercado's father struggled with addiction problems when she was a child, getting arrested multiple times: "Having my dad struggle through that, it really, really – it really made me sad a lot of my life. It actually made me understand people more and be more…. I told myself that I’m not going to let this determine what my future is going to be. I’m going to do something good. And I’m going to help my dad and encourage him and be there for him. And I’m going to make him proud, so that he wants to make me proud, and that’s exactly what he’s doing now."
How did the hard times define her? "The reason I even brought up my struggle in the beginning, at my first audition, is because my past doesn’t determine who I am. And I don’t feel ashamed of telling encouraging uplifting stories to people because they’re going to – everybody’s going to find out eventually my story. And some people are going to get the story wrong, and it already has been gotten wrong a lot. People are like, “Oh, you’re homeless.” I’m like, “What? What are you talking about?” Ask me what my story is."
Right now, her story is about rehearsing for the Idol tour and preparing for whatever opportunities may come next. Since past experience indicates Idols don't have much time to make their mark before fans move on to the next crop of contestants, she's got a serious challenge ahead.