Shania Twain loved John Park’s bottom end. Unfortunately, not enough American Idol dialers did. Last night, we watched the 21-year-old contestant get booted from the Idol stage — and unleash his best performances to date. The morning after his elimination, Park talks about performing better Wednesday night, his absence during Hollywood week, and, of course, Shania.
You’ve had a night to think about your ouster — how do you feel this morning? I’m feeling good, actually. You know, a little disappointed, but relieved. I’m just kind of ready to go back home and see what’s in store, probably go back to school and finish my degree.
What’s your degree in? I’m in the liberal arts school right now, but I actually don’t have a major yet. I was studying economics, but I’m most likely going to drop that and do something else.
What do you think happened last night? You were one of the favorites going into the semifinals. I don’t know. I think I was really distracted by the fact that it was a live show. And the cameras being there, and worrying too much about what the judges were going to say. It’s funny, because last night, I sang “Gravity” for the last time when elimination came around. And that’s when I really released everything. I let go of everything. All the nerves and the tension. I said, “I’m just going to sing. And this is the last time I’m going to sing on American Idol on national television.” So I pretty much just gave it my all. And afterwards, the judges came up to me and they were like, “That was way better than Tuesday night’s performance.”
It was a lot better. So was it all nerves? A lot of it were nerves. Not necessarily nerves, but just distractions. And thinking way too much about what people are going to think. My voice coach told me something that kind of hit me. He said, “Don’t sing to people. Sing to God. And if you’re singing to God, then you can truly just pour out what’s in your heart, and not have to worry about what other people are going to think.” I think that’s one thing that I lost sight of — coming from the heart instead of thinking about all of these things, these distractions in my head.
Do you think it had anything to do with your song choice? You did choose two slow songs in the two weeks of semifinals. I was hoping to do an upbeat song if I made it through to next week. But “God Bless This Child” I really wanted to do. I didn’t really care what the judges were going to say about the song choice. I just really wanted to promote that song for myself and my parents. And “Gravity” — maybe I could have chosen a more upbeat song, but I didn’t. It’s just one of my favorite songs to sing. So I went with it.
Do you know what you were going to sing next week? No. Not really. I hadn’t made up my mind.
Simon was particularly harsh on you Tuesday. He doesn’t have any filters. He just kind of speaks his mind. And if he felt that way, that’s fine. I could kind of see — most of the times I see where Simon’s coming from. Maybe he could do it in a more tasteful way. But that’s just how he is.
We saw you during the auditions. And then you disappeared during Hollywood week. Were you bummed about your lack of screen time? Yeah. A little bit. I was a little disappointed. A lot of my friends were like, “Where the hell are you? Are you even competing in this competition?” They focused a lot on the drama-filled moments. I was actually in some drama during the later parts. But they didn’t show that.
What kind of drama? Well, I just had a hard time towards the end of the process. I had pretty terrible auditions. But they could only showcase a few people, because of the limited time. But there were a few people, like Paige, who weren’t shown at all before top 24.
Ryan and the judges name-dropped your a cappella group, Purple Haze, quite a bit during the telecasts. My friends would joke around and be like, “Promote Purple Haze when you’re on national television!” So I tried to drop the name as much as I could.
But Ryan and the judges dropped it more than you did! I know! So it’s great!
You reached out to Shania Twain during one of your interview packages. Have you heard from her? No, I wish. But I don’t expect to. I was joking around. On TV, I said, “You think I’m joking. I’m not.” But I was joking. I mean, Shania’s beautiful. And I love her. But I’m not delusional, so….
But it still must have been surreal during the auditions. She was so into you! I couldn’t believe it. I really couldn’t. I was just clueless. I was like, “What is going on in here?!” I couldn’t process it all.
What’s next for you? I think American Idol, this whole experience made me realize that music is my passion. Even if it’s not necessarily performing. I really want to get into songwriting, or production, or even management — it’s something I’m really, really interested in. I’m going to go home and see what doors open for me. I’ve been getting a lot of press from Chicago and even in the Korean community as well. So I’ll go back and see what’s going on. Most likely go back to school and finish my degree and decompress. And evaluate where I want to be at this point. A lot of things are up in the air right now. But I’m definitely going to pursue music after school.