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'Idol' exit Q&A: Matt Giraud

After a couple of close calls, the ”Idol” contestant goes home for real this week; on the day after, he called in to talk about trying to pin down what the judges expected, his meeting with ”Janie” Foxx, and hoping for a call from Gavin DeGraw

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American Idol, Matt Giraud
Michael Becker/ FOX

The amazing ride of Matt Giraud has finally come to an end, but not before he made it into the American Idol history book by receiving the judges’ first Save, and earned a standing ovation from them with his goodbye performance of ”My Funny Valentine” Wednesday night. Here, the 23-year-old from Kalamazoo, Mich., talks about celebrity fans (Kristen Bell!), why he wimped out during that food fight, and his one demand for the Idol Top 10 tour.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I’ve heard you got two hours of sleep.

MATT GIRAUD: Two hours’ sleep and one pancake. Here I go!

Welcome to show business!

Yay!!! [Laughs] How about the old dueling piano days where I slept until noon, grabbed some Taco Bell, went to work at 5? [Laughs]

So I thought your performance last night was amazing. It felt freer than Tuesday’s. Was that just because the pressure was off?

I haven’t seen it yet.

What?! You should watch it now. The other four contestants were going crazy over some of those runs you were doing, especially Allison.

Yeah, I kinda let it go on that one. I never know what the judges want. I try to simplify, and then they want it harder. Then I try to do something harder, and then they say I made it too intricate. I was like, You know what? I’m just gonna let it go and do it.

Did you feel like the judges ever gave you the credit you deserved for the rearranging you did? I’m thinking of something like ”Stayin’ Alive.”

Not really. I put a lot of time into rearranging those songs and trying to make them unique, to be called ”unoriginal” and stuff hurt. Like Randy told me, to us musicians, it sounds good. You just groove it out and it feels great. But you have to worry about what the audience feels. He told me that he thought ”Stayin’ Alive” went right over the audience’s head. ”This stuff wouldn’t be on the radio.” I’m like, ”There was a ‘Stayin’ Alive’ remix on the radio a few years ago, but okay.” [Laughs]

Did you give the other contestants any tips for Rat Pack night?

Yeah, I did. I actually suggested ”Come Fly With Me” for Danny, because he didn’t know any jazz. And then I kinda tried to help Kris a little bit with it. They know what they’re doing, these guys. Obviously, I’m the jazz guy and I studied vocal jazz. But I don’t think this show is about how well you can sing the genre, it’s all about how well you can make that genre your own. That was the challenge. I took so much time trying to learn how to sing and play each genre, and I didn’t get a lot of credit for that. But I’m not bitter. Don’t get me wrong. I’m just really glad that I got to make it that far.

NEXT PAGE: ”My boots smelled like eggs for two days.”

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Did Jamie Foxx have time to say anything to you backstage as you were waiting to find out who was going home last night? He seemed to really get you.

MATT GIRAUD: I didn’t get a chance to talk to him. But I saw some interviews he did about me, and I was really touched by the things he said. ”He’ll be fine.” He really talked me up. I felt so blessed and honored that he did that. He’s a big idol of mine. I was so nervous when I first met him that I called him ”Janie.” It was funny.

Did you correct yourself or did you try to pretend that it didn’t just happen?

I just felt so stupid, I didn’t even correct myself. He was like, ”Janie? Jamie? Whatever.” [Laughs]

I know you received a call from the governor of Michigan. Any other memorable calls?

I got a couple of texts from past Idol contestants, Chris Richardson and Ace Young. It’s amazing. Kristen Bell, the actress, brought me a Faygo Pop one night [Laughs] ’cause they drink a lot of that in Michigan. She left a note that said, ”Just in case you miss Michigan” and got me a Red Faygo Pop. Little things like that are really cool. Joel Madden, he’s been kinda coaching me a little bit. These celebrities, they watch and they care, too. Colbie Caillet has been there, and she’s been so sweet.

We need to talk about the food fight.

Okay.

As least from the footage we saw, I feel like you actually started it, then pussied out and didn’t follow through. Is that what went down?

[Laughs] Did I pussy out? I think it was already kinda going. It was just edited that way. I put my hand on Danny’s shoulder, then I didn’t want to get my clothes all dirty. I was about to go out. Then Allison and Danny just went to town. I was so mad — my boots smelled like eggs for two days.

Who actually cleaned that mess up?

I think the poor PAs [production assistants] did. I felt so bad. Maybe it was a cleaning crew, who knows? Maybe they really charged them $6,000 to do it.

Well, if the PAs got $6,000 to do it, that would be nice.

”Get your money, girl! Get your money!”

NEXT PAGE: ”It seemed like [the judges] liked Adam a lot or Danny a lot every time, and I was like, Man, I wish I could get like that. I wish I could just come out there every week and they’d just love me.”

{C}

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Now that we’ve gotten to the bottom of that, we can talk about Ryan making Adam choose between the two groups last night. What was going through your mind? Come to my side! Come to my side!

MATT GIRAUD: I really didn’t care what side he was gonna come on. If I was him, though, I probably would have sat down. I would have pulled an Archuleta and not said anything. But Adam was just being real. He’ll tell you what he thinks. He’s not afraid of hurtin’ you. Our feelings weren’t hurt. Kris and I joked about it with him. ”Why didn’t you pick us, dude?”

You Final Five really did seem genuinely close. How did that happen?

We’re all really different, and we could all do things that the other ones couldn’t do. I genuinely think that none of us thought that we were better than any of the others. Obviously some people were aware of how popular they were. [Laughs] But I don’t think we went around thinking we were better than anyone. We respected each other.

Do you feel like the judges pimped out certain contestants more than others?

It might seem like that, but you know, the judges like who they like. It seemed like they liked Adam a lot or Danny a lot every time, and I was like, Man, I wish I could get like that. I wish I could just come out there every week and they’d just love me. But I’m satisfied with my little rollercoaster, ’cause every time I would have a bad one, I’d try to come back real big.

Are you planning on moving to Los Angeles now?

It all depends on what kind of opportunities I have. I don’t think there’s much left for me in Kalamazoo except family and friends. In terms of musical career, there’s not much left there. If there are some bands that would maybe like me to open for them, I would be out here in a heartbeat. I’m willing to pay my dues in the industry.

Who would you like to hook up with?

I’d love to open for Gavin DeGraw or the Fray, go on the road. That would be a dream come true.

And is that the kind of music you still envision putting on an album?

That kind of music, but with a jazzy twist.

What can we expect to see from you on the Idol tour? Will you and Scott [MacIntyre] be doing dueling pianos?

Well, if Scott wants to do some dueling pianos. I think I might do ”Georgia On My Mind.” I’m just now trying to think about what I want to do. All I know is I want to see a piano come out of the stage with smoke. [Laughs]