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''Idol'' Q&As: The latest cuts

Jason, Alaina, Robbie, and Alexandrea talk about song choice, getting (or not getting) screen time, and more

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American Idol

On Thursday night, Ryan Seacrest told four more American Idol semifinalists it was ”the end of the road”: two of the show’s youngest contestants (Alexandréa Lushington and Alaina Whitaker, both 17) — and, at the other end of the spectrum, two of its oldest (28-year-old Jason Yeager and 26-year-old Robbie Carrico). Since it’s just two weeks into the semifinals and no one knew them too well, EW.com gave them a chance to say their final piece.

JASON YEAGER, 28, GRAND PRAIRIE, TEXAS

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What do you think went wrong?
JASON YEAGER:
Well, you know, I was kind of in a lose-lose situation. The first week, Simon bashed me — you know, all of them really kind of criticized me for being too old-fashioned. They criticized me for not doing a ”singer’s song.” So, I was at a loss for words. I didn’t really know what to say or do with myself at that point.

When you’re picking the song, do you think about making sure to pick a ”singer’s song”?
First of all, you’ve got themes, so you’re restrained to a decade. Then you’re listening to all these different songs. The producers have lists of songs that are cleared for television, so you can pick off that list — but what are the odds that any of those songs are really going to be you? There’s not a whole heck of a lot of time given to do really good research and to listen and try to find a killer song for yourself. And sometimes you’re back to the drawing board if the song isn’t approved. There’s so much more that goes into it that people don’t see. Some artists are completely off-limits that I really enjoy and would really showcase me. You have a couple of hands tied behind your back.

Now, you were born in 1979, right? On the tail end of the ’70s, and even then, you were just a baby. Had it been, say, ’90s week, would you have had a better chance?
Oh, absolutely. One of my biggest influences was Boyz II Men. I had some Boyz II Men lined up because they were thinking about doing ’90s week. Next week was going to be ’80s, so I thought, ”Well, great, Journey would totally showcase my vocals” — but we ran into problems with getting rights. The killer song for me never really seemed to pan out. I don’t want to place blame on song selection. I wish I could have found that one song… I had so much against me.

Like what?
Nobody knew who I was before I showed up in the top 24. Colton [Berry] was in the same boat; Garrett [Haley] was in the same boat. It’s kind of sad sometimes.

Do you think that’s unfair?
I think you’re definitely at a disadvantage, and I don’t care what people say: You are at a disadvantage when you know that you were there, but according to America, it’s like, ”Why didn’t they show you during your first round?” I don’t know. ”How come they didn’t show you during Hollywood?” I don’t know. ”How come they haven’t done any backstories on you?” I have no idea. So now I’m faced with being in the top 24 — and blessed to be there — but now I’ve got to do something that’s going to get people behind me.

That does seem pretty unfair.
It just made me laugh when Simon was like, ”I think your problem is that you don’t stand out.” I just laughed to myself on the inside, because I did everything everyone else did — all the interviews and whatnot — but I have absolutely no say over what gets used on the show. It was just disappointing. I have so much more I could have shown people if I had the chance. Right now, I’m just trying to swallow all that up.

What Boyz II Men song would you have done on the show?
”End of the Road.” [Laughs] As bittersweet as that sounds now! That was one of my favorite songs to sing growing up. Really, any Boyz II Men song — ”It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday.” That was one of my biggest influences. I had all their albums. I modeled myself after Wanya Morris’ voice. That was my everything growing up.

What does tomorrow bring for you?
I’m really tossing up the idea of acting. But music will always be my first love. Maybe if I could get with a producer who could hone into what I’m all about… I think I really need someone in the business to work with me and develop me more.

NEXT PAGE: Alaina Whitaker