R&B/pop singer Candice Glover is the winner of Season 12 of “American Idol.” She accomplished this victory after auditioning for “American Idol” in three separate years. And even though the show’s Season 12 had an almost entirely new judging panel (Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, Keith Urban and Randy Jackson), which resulted in “American Idol’s” most controversial season so far (mostly because of Minaj’s diva antics and feud with Carey), and ratings for the show took a nosedive, don’t expect Glover to say anything negative about this season about “American Idol.” How can she? This was the year that she won.
Glover’s first single, “I Am Beautiful,” was released immediately after the show’s Season 12 finale. It remains to be seen if Glover will have a long, award-winning career or will be an “American Idol” winner who gets dropped from a major label and fades into obscurity a few years after winning on the show. In the meantime, Glover will be the first “American Idol” winner to have her debut album out just two months after her victory. Here is what Glover said in a telephone conference call with journalists on the day after the “American Idol” Season 12 finale.
What was running through your head when you found out you won? What were your first thoughts and reactions?
Well, I immediately thought about the album that I’m going to be recording and the fact that my album was on pre-order as soon as the show was over, and people could buy that. I was super-excited about that and going on tour and just getting myself out there. But mostly, I just thought about the fact that I had been here three times already, this was my third time, so I was definitely excited.
What are you most looking forward to about the tour?
I’m looking forward to singing and not having to worry about being judged or being eliminated the following day, or getting votes or anything — mostly just singing for the fans and getting my music out there and just being with the Top 10, or Top 11, again.
You auditioned twice before and didn’t make it through to the live rounds. That had to be really tough on your confidence. Why did you decide to keep trying for “American Idol,” and what made you think that this time it might be different?
I definitely was hurt and broken-hearted when I got cut, but for some reason, even though I kept saying that I wasn’t coming back, I kept thinking maybe this one time that it’ll work, this one time it’ll work. I would always say no, but then I would find myself looking at auditions again online. Then going and saying, “If it doesn’t work this time, I’ll just find a way to branch my music career another way. But I’m so glad that it worked.
Was there a point during the competition that you thought maybe this time it won’t work either? There was a week when Mariah Carey was the only judge who had you on her Top 3 list. What was your response was to that?
That was Top 7 week, so I was definitely worried at the fact that Mariah was the only one that picked me that week. At the same time, I felt like that was the week that I had one of my weaker performances, so I definitely understood.
But that is how “Don’t Make Me Over” by Burt Bacharach and “Love Song” by The Cure came about. I decided that I needed something that would put me over the edge and show people why I was in the competition to begin with. At the same time, while it hurt, it also gave me a boost to do my best the next week.
When you look at all of the former “American Idol” contestants who are more remembered than others, aside from your amazing music, how are you going to stay in the spotlight in all of our minds moving forward so we don’t forget about you?
That’s why I’m definitely glad that “Idol” took a different approach as far as the album this year, because it’ll be out on July 16 [in 2013], and it’s on pre-order now. While I’m still fresh in people’s minds, they can order the album, because if they like me, if they voted for me, then they can order the album. That’s a good way to keep the “American Idol” winner in the minds of everybody.
Also, getting myself out there and probably trying to do other things as far as acting and modeling after careers of the other people that have won and even people that haven’t had the chance of winning, like Jennifer Hudson, but she also did very well in her career.
If you had the chance, and you were auditioning again next year, would you want to audition in front of these same judges?
Definitely. I told someone that these are my favorite judges, not only because I did a good job on the show but because they all were a great asset to the panel. I can’t think of singing for anybody else.
Was it more challenging to rehearse for the show while working on your album on the side?
It was definitely a challenge. The night that we made the Top 3, before we flew home to our home towns, we were approached with the songs, just in case we made the Top 2. So you had going home on your mind, you had singing your hometown concert on your mind, but you also had the fact that when you flew back, you had to sing three songs. Then you also had to choose your single as if you had made Top 2.
There was so much to think about, but at the same time, if you just pace yourself and take it one day at a time. I think that’s why I was really happy that I got a chance to do three songs — not just got the chance, but I glad that I go the song that I got and how I came about doing that song, because I was definitely connecting with the lyrics and everything.
Sometimes you came across a little bit shy in the competition. Was it difficult to be on the show because you’re a little bit shy?
Yes, it was definitely difficult to be on such a popular show and being shy and reserved and stuff like that. You’ve got all these bubbly people that are so fun and stuff like that and you’re just more laid-back. People tend to gravitate to the ones that are more excited.
I’ll be excited, but you would never know by looking at my face, because I’m such a reserved and laid-back person. But I think it definitely brought out the inner crazy in me and it brought me out of my shell a little bit.
Do you have a favorite judge? If so, why? Or anyone that you respect in particular?
I don’t know if I have a favorite judge, but I do know that I connect more with Randy [Jackson] because he’s been there the whole time that I was there in the three years. He’s seen me grow, and I definitely look forward to his opinion as well as Mariah Carey’s, because she’s been doing this forever and she knows what it’s like.
And Nicki also knows what it’s like today. So I look up to all three of them and getting a chance to meet Keith Urban. I think they all bring something good to the table.
You talked a little bit about taking things to the next level with your career. Do you see yourself being bigger than Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj?
I would definitely model my career after them. I don’t know. It’s a pretty hard act to follow, because Mariah and Nicki are both great in their different genres. So I don’t know, I would just have to hope for the best and hope that I can do as well as they are.
What do you want to get yourself as a gift for yourself?
Well, I got a car. I would probably just pay all my bills … I still haven’t even gotten a chance to really think. But now that I think about it, I have some bills that need to be paid.
When you gave your grandma the Ford Fiesta, what did she whisper in your ear?
She just said “I love you.” I think she was pretty speechless. She didn’t really know what to think. She was really having a hard time; she was really overwhelmed. Especially when I won, I think she almost passed out.
So I don’t know what happened over there … I would have to ask my mom. I was kind of worried about her, but she was just overwhelmed with the whole thing, just saying she loves me and she supports me through whatever.
What did your parents say to you before the show and afterwards?
Before the show, they’d just say, “Whatever happens, you’ve done a good job. This is your third time, Top 2 is definitely an accomplishment. Don’t be sad if you don’t win.”
I’ve always said I’m content either way it goes.Then, after the show, just saying how proud of me. We all just kind of sat there and realized that I actually came on the show a third time and won. It was just an amazing feeling. We just all soaked it in.
By the end of your last performance to be voted on, based on the judges critiques, they seemed to think you kind of had the edge on Kree Harrison. What impact did that have on you?
I don’t know. Because the judges, when they give you good critique, they’re not the ones that are voting. So they give you their input and everything, but at the end of the day, it all depends on your fans and everything. Kree is amazing, so at the same time, when we were waiting for the result to be called, we were calling each other’s names and saying “You won.” And she was like, “No you won.” We definitely had no idea what was going to happen because America is so unpredictable sometimes.
Up until the last couple weeks, Angie Miller was presented as the clear frontrunner throughout most of the competition. Did you ever think you had a chance to win? And did the fact she was considered the frontrunner and had so much hype surrounding her, did that that almost take the pressure off a little bit, and maybe even work to your benefit?
I know that Angie has a humongous fan base, and her fans are very dedicated to her. I even would go as far as saying that I knew that Angie would possibly be the winner, all because of her fan base and how big her fan base was. I don’t know if I would say it was like a benefit that she went home, but I definitely know that, no matter what, I knew she would be successful.
I knew it was a shock to America and everything when she got cut because she’s phenomenal. I know that no matter what, she’ll be fine, like I said. I don’t know if she was a threat. Everybody in the Top 5, all the girls were so different and we had our different fan bases for different reasons. So I wouldn’t say she was a threat to anyone.
What I would like to know is, what would you say is the single best thing that you’ve learned about yourself as an artist throughout this process?
I’ve learned that I’m very, very different and some of the ideas that I have are really odd to some people. Like doing a Drake song. Drake is a hip-hop or rap artist and I surprised a lot of people by doing that. I think that I learned that I need to just take those ideas on full-force and go with them.
Don’t hide behind trying to do what I think America loves. I think in the previous seasons, I kind of fell short because of that, because I was so worried. But this year, I finally realized that I’m different and I need to embrace it.
Do you feel comfortable that you’ll be able to express that on your first album?
Yes, I’m definitely confident. Some of the stuff that I’ve been doing and listening to, I definitely know that it’ll be different.
Your duet with Jennifer Hudson was amazing. How did you feel before that? Did you think you would keep up with her? Were you nervous?
All of the above. I was nervous, I didn’t know if I was going to keep up. I thought I was going to suck, actually. I called my vocal coach, Michael Orland, and I said, “Can we please practice one more time? Because I don’t think that I’m good enough to be up there and do this.”
But he said, “I don’t think we have time to practice, just go over it in your head and everything will be fine. I was so nervous and so scared, but I’m really glad I got a chance to do that with her.”
Do you think you’ll do a future collaboration with her or anybody else?
I would definitely love to do a collaboration with her if she’s willing to do it. She’s so phenomenal and I look up to her and people like Jazmine Sullivan, who’s my favorite singer of all time, and Kim Burrell, and even Drake and Nicki Minaj. I would love to do some different things with them and have different aspects of my album.
You mentioned the upside of getting to release the album early in that you’re going to be fresh on people’s minds and they’re going to know you, they’re going to be craving your music, and it’s going to be probably more beneficial to sales, as far as that’s concerned. But is there a down side to quickly recording everything? How are you attacking that quick turnaround time?
I’m definitely focusing on not being put in a box. That’s the one thing that I don’t want to happen. I want to be able to be broad and not to go as far as to say create a new genre, but do my own thing and not worry about, “Oh, she’s just the R&B diva.” The single that I have out right now is R&B with a touch of pop, and I know pop is something nobody expected me to ever do. So I just want to keep that unexpected aspect going.
What is your next big goal?
I think having an album is a pretty good goal to accomplish. Definitely to model after the career of Jennifer Hudson, and be in movies and do different things like that. Actually, go further than music, and I would definitely love to do something like that.
Can you remember what went through your head at the time when Nicki Minaj was just crying when you sang Emeli Sandé’s “Next to Me”?
Well, she had seen my hometown visit before that. I saw her crying while the tape was being played and everything. I think she knows what it’s like to have your career take off after coming from just living a normal life and trying to pay your bills and stay on top of things. So I think that connected with her.
We had that moment because I know how it feels to work a 10-hour job and want your music to work but then having all these different things stopping you. Then she also talked about my confidence, and that’s also something that I used to struggle with. I’m glad that I had that time to connect with her.
What performance were you most proud of this season?
I was definitely proud of the way that “Lovesong” turned out. I was so excited to do that song and I finally got a chance to. I’m really glad about how it turned out.
It seems like, in recent years and especially now, the judges are a lot more positive and really trying to give constructive criticism. When you did receive any negative feedback from the judges or read nasty stuff online. If you did, how did you push past some of the negativity?
I’m glad you said the thing about reading online because that is poison. It’s so bad to get on there and read that type of stuff. But at the same time, and it hurt my feelings seeing all that stuff, all it did was push me to do better the next week.
When I did “Satisfaction” in Top 7, when all the judges didn’t put me in their Top 3, but Mariah did, and just seeing, on top of that, seeing what online thought about me and saying stuff about me, I pushed forward and did “Lovesong,” and I did the other songs. It pushed me. When I got back critiques from the judges, I just used it as fuel to be better the next week.
Did you ever have a number in mind? Like, “Top 3 is my goal.”
Yes. I remember speaking to my parents and saying if I could just make it to the Top 20 and get to voting, I know that I would have a fan base that would vote me into the Top 10. If I could just do Top 10, Top 5, Top 3. Then when I got to Top 2, I said, “Oh my gosh, next Wednesday I could probably win this entire show.” Then it happened. I still can’t even believe that it did.
You said that this was your third time trying out for “American Idol.” Can you tell us how far you go the first two times you tried out?
The first time I made it to the Top 70, and I got cut when they split you into the different rooms. The second time, Season 11, I was in a group with Jessica Sanchez and DeAndre Brackensick, and we sang “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” by Buddy Holly. I was Top 60 and I got cut at that point.
What was your favorite part about this whole process, other than winning, of course?
My favorite part, I would think, would have to be meeting Smokey Robinson and having Aretha Franklin know who you are. And Drake surprising me on the show. And Paula Abdul —all those different people that are stars that you look up to and having them acknowledge your talent.
Your album is going to be released a lot earlier than most “Idol” winners’ albums have been released after they won. How are you going to get it all done? Are you going to do it all before the tour starts? How much have it have you done already? Do you have songs picked out?
I have songs that I’ve been listening to and focusing on. But the one song that’s on iTunes right now is the only one that I’ve actually gone and recorded. It comes out on July 16, and the tour starts on June 29. I’m just excited to see how it goes, as well as being on tour. I’m definitely going to have to work hard, to be in a studio late hours, and doing the album.
Are you going to be able to do any songwriting for the album, then?
I definitely would hope so. If there’s no time, then there’s no time, but I definitely would love to get that done.
Looking back, again when you were in that group with Jessica Sanchez. Have you maintained a friendship with her? Has she given you any advice?
Definitely. She was at the party last night. I talked to her all the time on the season last year, encouraging her and voting for her and being there when she needed someone to talk to. So I definitely maintained that friendship. She always would tell me be yourself and just go through the whole thing and pace yourself, because it’s going to get harder down the road.
Remember when they gave you some inkling of how the voting went? They told you that South Carolina voted 90 percent for you or something like that. Did they give you any inkling on how the voting went in the finals?
No, no. The only thing I got was the card that Ryan read off of. It didn’t say anything but announcing my name. But ever since that first week, that Top 10 week, I didn’t know.
What about the week that no one was eliminated? Did you ever find out exactly what the vote was?
No, we never find out what the vote is. Even when they announce it, they say it in no particular order, so we never know what the exact vote is. I think it’s a good thing that we don’t, because it might mess with our confidence a little bit.
What’s the thing that surprised you the most, through your whole experience?
I knew that it was going to be a lot of work, but I did not know that it was going to be this much work. Joshua Ledet and Jessica, all of them would tell me last year, “This is going to be a lot of hard work, and you’re going to do the Ford commercials and everything on Sundays.” I thought it was going to be easy breezy, whatever, but we worked super hard.
When you would practice your autograph, did you daydream about that fame would look like?
I would dream about it ever since I was younger than that. When I would be in the living room when no one was home and just blasting the music from the computer and having the remote in my hand, I just imagined there being a sea of people below me, reaching for my hand. Me being on a tour or in a place of 7,000 people, like I was this past week. I definitely would fantasize about what would actually happen or what it would feel like to have people ask for your autograph, which is why I would practice it at work and stuff like that. And it’s finally happening.
What would you tell that person now?
I would tell her to be yourself and not worry about what America thinks about you, or what anybody thinks about you. Just go out there and be confident in who you are.
Was there ever a particular point when you first began to feel you might actually have a chance of winning the whole thing? If so, when was it during the season?
I think when I first auditioned, Nicki said, “If you don’t make it to the last round of this entire competition, then something is definitely wrong.” That stuck with me throughout the whole competition. And I stuck with that, and I said, “OK, I just have to make it to the last round.”
I just want to make Nicki proud and my family. Mariah had asked me for a mix tape at my audition, she was asking for an album. Ever since then, I said OK, this is going to turn out to be something good. So I just stuck with my plans of what I’ve been doing the whole time and it just worked out.
You got to close out the last competition performance of the season with that powerhouse version of “I, Who Have Nothing,” and Kree also got awesome reviews for her final performance. Did you almost feel like you had a slight advantage because you got to finish out the show and were obviously fresh on home viewers’ minds right before voting began?
I don’t know if it was an advantage, because there were only two of us. Usually, like in Top 10, if you get the order, you worry about being forgotten if you go early in the show. But there was only me and Kree and it was only one hour, so I was just confident in all three of my performances. But at the same time, so was Kree, and she did a real good job. We went into [the voting-results show] not really knowing what was going to happen.
What did you do in the past year that made the biggest difference in being better and better prepared for this year?
I just listened to every single genre of music out there and got my musical knowledge up. I just focused on being myself more and being different and not worrying about being accepted. In the previous two years, I cared about that a little bit more than I should have, and I think that’s why it didn’t really work out. This time, I was confident and it worked out.
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