by Gina Scarpa
Four years ago, Taylor Hicks was crowned the winner of American Idol's fifth season. Among his fellow contestants were Chris Daughtry, Katherine McPhee, Kellie Pickler, Ace Young, and Elliott Yamin. Many of the season 5 contestants have consistently worked since appearing on Idol, from recording successful albums to starring on Broadway. Today, we caught up with Elliott Yamin in an exclusive interview, in which he looks back at his time on Idol, gives some advice to Crystal Bowesox and Lee Dewyze, and lets us know what he's up to now.
Q. Gina, RealityWanted: Right now, American Idol Rewind is showing season 5. Do you ever rewatch your season?
A. Elliott: Yeah, actually... whether it's YouTube clips or clips on the internet, especially this season. I have my DVR set to record American Idol Rewind. I've had a lot of company lately. We always watch together. It's fun to relive those moments. It was the best time of my life. It was the beginning of my new life.
Q. Gina, RealityWanted: Is there a moment from your season that stands out to you and still resonates with you today?
A. Elliott: I think when I performed "Moody Mood's For Love" in the very beginning, in the Top 20. And then, probably my hometown visit. Just like this week, but 4 seasons ago. That was such a special time to get to go home and really realize the love and support I had back there with my friends, family, and hometown.
Q. Gina, RealityWanted: When you went on your hometown visit, is that when you realized just how big the show was and how much people supported you?
A. Elliott: Most of the time, it just seems surreal. You don't really realize the magnitude of the show and how many people are rooting for you until you go home. It was only an 18 hour trip but once I got home, I was like "Holy Toledo, this is a big deal!" You don't really get a true sense of that on the show. They keep you so busy and you're running around. All that stuff prepares you for your life after Idol. You learn a lot about the business and how to handle the pressure and media.
Q. Gina, RealityWanted: Do you still talk to people from your season?
A. Elliott: Oh yeah, absolutely! Ace and I are good friends. Sway has been in my band. He was in the Top 24. He's one of my background singers. Taylor and I are really close. I run into Kat McPhee every now and then because we live in neighboring counties. The cool thing about our season is everybody's working and doing something. We're making a living, which is all I ever wanted to do. I wasn't in it to win it.
Q. Gina, RealityWanted: What are you up to now?
A. Elliott: I'm in the studio writing and recording my third album. I'm doing a few shows here and there. I've gotten some cool opportunities. I sang the national anthem at a Lakers game Wednesday night which was awesome. I'm a huge Lakers fan.
Q. Gina, RealityWanted: What is your advice for Lee, Crystal, and the other Idols now that season 9 is ending? You've been in this position before. What can they expect?
A. Elliott: This isn't the end, it's only the beginning. That's such a cliché thing to say. Everyone says that but one thing people have to realize is that there's something I call it Idolitis. People get this bug called Idolitis. They think they're entitled because they were on the country's biggest tv show. The bottom line is that whether you have success or not, post Idol, it's like starting from scratch. The great thing is that we already have that established audience which is more than anyone can ever ask for. It's up to you to utilize that to your advantage. Since my season, the landscape of the business has changed for the worse. It's only gonna get tougher and harder out there. People need to realize that. With that said, you have to have good people around that can come up with cutting edge ways to get you noticed.
Don't miss American Idol Rewind, every Saturday. Check TV Guide to find your local listings.
(Image courtesy of Elliott Yamin's official site)
Follow Gina at twitter.com/ginascarpa