‘American Idol’ bits: Trent, La’Porsha speak plans, 13.3 million watched series finale

HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 7: Judge Ryan Seacrest (L) announces American Idol Season 15 winner Trent Harmon (R) with runner-up La'Porsha Renae, onstage at FOX's American Idol Season 15 Finale on April 7, 2016 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Ryan Seacrest; La'Porsha Renae; Trent Harmon

HOLLYWOOD, CA – APRIL 7: Judge Ryan Seacrest (L) announces American Idol Season 15 winner Trent Harmon (R) with runner-up La’Porsha Renae, onstage at FOX’s American Idol Season 15 Finale on April 7, 2016 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Ryan Seacrest; La’Porsha Renae; Trent Harmon

By RODNEY HO/ rho@ajc.com, originally filed Sunday, April 10, 2016

Good news for final “American Idol” winner Trent Harmon and runner-up La’Porsha Renae: both will get Big Machine record contracts. Trent will focus on country. La’Porsha will be old-school soul on the Motown label. Dalton Rapattoni will likely end up going the indie route.

Some press members (including MJ Santilli of MJ’s Big Blog) talked to all three in the final “Idol” phone conference. I’ve been doing these phone conferences for at least a dozen years. I can’t recall when Fox publicity began them. Maybe season two? But the awful hold music has been the same and is now seared into my brain. I can’t quite describe it except it’s crap even Kenny G would have rejected.

The most controversial thing La’Porsha said was that she didn’t agree with the gay “lifestyle” but opposed the Mississippi bill discriminating against them. She was clearly very tired and babbled a bit:

“This is how I feel about the LGBT community: They are people just like us. They’re not animals as someone stated before. They’re people with feelings. Although all of us may not agree with that particular lifestyle for religious reasons, whatever the reason is, you still treat each other with respect. Everybody is a human being. We should be able to coexist with one another.”

“I am one of the people who don’t really agree with that lifestyle. I wasn’t brought up that way. It wasn’t how I was raised. But I do have a lot of friends and a lot of people that I love dearly who are gay and homosexual and they’re such sweet, nice people. We should just respect each other’s differences and opinions and move on.”

She later got some flak for her thoughts but that’s to be expected.

La’Porsha was also very kind to Trent: “I had a feeling he would be [the winner.] I prepared myself for it and when he was crowned, i was really proud. Trent deserved it. He worked it. He’s a genuine person and a real true artist.”

I honestly thought the Q&A with Trent was far more illuminating. He is a smart guy, reminds me of Adam Lambert in the sense he was very thoughtful and strategic about the show and what it can do for him. Don’t take his Mississippi accent as a sign of cornball innocence. The dude seems to know what the deal is. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was able to carve out a career, even with “Idol” in its reduced state of significance.

“I feel like being able to sing multiple genres is going to help me going forward to make a country album that will be palatable to a lot of different people,” he said.

Trent came onto the show serious about the crown. “I didn’t consider myself an underdog. When I auditioned in July, I prepared to win at every facet of this competition.”

But he didn’t take this as a standpoint of taking anybody down. He and La’Porsha honestly critiqued each other and kept pushing each other to be better.

Trent said he obsessed about preparation every minute he was in Hollywood. “I wake up, go to bed, wake up in the middle of the night, I’m rehearsing… I didn’t know what I was doing but that’s what it took. I was too dumb to know I was in go mode all the time. But it paid off.”

He said singing was only 10 percent of the competition to him. “I didn’t know [going in] I could do interviews. Nobody has taught us how to talk in a public setting.. I’ve never done this in my life. That has really surprised me. It surprised my parents. They said, ‘You’ve talked to more people than you talked to in your life!’ ”

Later, he noted that “I didn’t want to coast off a pretty voice. I think if I had done that, I might have still been able to make it far. But I pushed myself and worked hard and worked really really really hard. I could be better than a pretty voice. I practiced interviews. I practiced wardrobe. I practiced how to hold the microphone. I didn’t just take for granted having the ability to sing. I practiced every different angle so I could be good and be better and be the best.”

Earlier, the conversation started amusingly. Some so-called reporter asked the dopey first question: what artist would Trent want to work with. “Dead or alive?” he asked.

She then started moving on  to her next question because she may have actually thought he was referencing the band Dead or Alive. (That’s the impression I got!) He stopped her and said, “Wait. My answer is Elton John!”

I was second up. I asked him how he felt 20 hours after the fact. “I really feel like it hasn’t sunk in yet. I hopped out of bed, jumped in the shower and started doing warm ups and started practicing my song. But today, I don’t have to do that anymore. I don’t know how long it will take before I come down… I still feel like any moment I can get cut.”

I then asked who he got to spend time with among the “Idols” during rehearsals and last night. “You name it! I had a bucket list of people I got to hang out with. I talked to Jordin Sparks again. I got to talk to David Archuleta. I had a long conversation with David Cook and James Durbin. You name it, man. I got to talk to them. It was great!’

He said boot camp was incredibly difficult given his isolation with mono. “I happen to believe in God. I would pray. I was quarantined from the rest of the cast. I would say, ‘It’s just between me and you God.’ I kept that on my brain at all times. I didn’t have my parents here with me. It was just me. If you could make it through this competition without believing in something, I’d be impressed. I’d be scared  You’d have to be super human. I couldn’t have done it without Him.”

***

AMERICAN IDOL: Jessica Sanchez performs during the AMERICAN IDOL Finale airing Thursday, April 7 (8:00-10:06 PM ET Live/PT tape-delayed) on FOX. © 2016 FOX Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ray Mickshaw/FOX

AMERICAN IDOL: Jessica Sanchez performs during the AMERICAN IDOL Finale airing Thursday, April 7 (8:00-10:06 PM ET Live/PT tape-delayed) on FOX. © 2016 FOX Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ray Mickshaw/FOX

The final overnight viewership of “American Idol,” despite being the series finale, came in at half of what it was just a few years ago: 13.3 million viewers. That is only the best since 2013, from the horrendous season 12 when 14.3 million watched. That tells me people – even those who were dedicated viewers the first 10-11 seasons – had long moved on.

Even after DVR usage, it probably will end up around 15 to 16 million viewers. Not bad but a far cry from the show’s peak.

Last year’s finale drew a mere 8 million overnight viewers.

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