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'American Idol' guest mentor Boy George picks the frontrunners of the Top 9

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Michael Becker/Fox

Boy George, who appropriately mentored the remaining Idol contestants for ’80s night, looks back on the episode and names his frontrunners.

I’ve never mentored American Idol before—it’s one one of those things I’ve done from my sofa, where you kind of sit there and go, “I would never have given them that song!” It’s much easier to do from your sofa, as is any criticism. When I was asked to mentor, I wondered how much influence I would be able to have, really. I thought it might be very cosmetic, that I might be there just to talk and sound good, but not really do any good. But it was quite amazing what we were able to do, myself and Scott Borchetta. There were certain people last night who really took on board some of the simplest things that we said.

I had heard rough recordings of what people were going to sing, so I had already made notes prior to meeting them. But before the show, we spent a day together, and all the concerns I had about pitching were already addressed. People were really on their game. And coming into a room without a microphone and singing with just a piano is ballsy. It’s something I never had to do. I’ve been very lucky—I’ve never had to audition for anything. It takes real balls to do that.

The two winning performances last night were Jax and Clark. They’re two real musicians in terms of playing. When I talked to Jax about her song, “You Give Love a Bad Name,” she got very eloquent; she knows her stuff. She’s a very knowledgeable person in terms of music, and so is Clark. But that can sometimes get in the way—you can start to get intellectual rather than emotional, and that can be dangerous. I told Clark I would lower the key on “Every Breath You Take.” But he ignored me! Some singers, when you put them under stress, and you challenge them, they excel. I went up to him after and said, I was wrong, because you nailed it. It could have gone either way, and he absolutely nailed it.

Quentin has been described as a fashionista, and it’s been all about the way he looks. And on the night of the show, he pulled off such a beautiful performance because I was able to say to him, “You have a beautiful voice, and you’re more than what you look like. Try to put the same flare you put into your wardrobe into what you’re doing in the performance.” And Qaasim, for me, as I’ve watched him throughout the season, was overdoing it with the moves. But he’s a lovely guy and he does have a really beautiful voice—but people were distracted by the antics. So we were able to say to him, you know what, you can sing! So sing!

There were others that didn’t listen at all. When you’re in the room with a piano—a very bare scenario—and then you go on stage with the band and you’re competing with drums and bass and keyboards and backing vocals and all of that drama, it can throw you off your game. And I think that Joey forgot what we told her. My advice to her was to give “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” more notes, to not sing it in a linear way. But I think she just got nervous. And Rayvon, he’s a technician, a singing teacher, and a perfectionist. He won’t take risks. He’s got a beautiful voice, so while he may not win this show, he can have a great career. All of them can. The point I made to them is, this isn’t it. Only one person can win this show, and it won’t necessarily be because they’re the best musician or the best singer. Sometimes it’s the cosmic stuff. Sometimes people are just in their moment. The gods are looking down and they just say, “It’s gonna be you!”

Boy George and Culture Club will be touring North America this spring. “We’re going to be playing a lot of the hits and doing new things as well,” he says. “And lots of nice costumes. I’m not sure about the other guys, but I’ll be dressing up.” For dates, visit cultureclub.co.uk.