The day after getting the boot, the curly fro'd contestant tells EW.com about ''Every Little Thing'': his struggles with the Police song's rhythm, winning $50 from Phil Stacey, losing the glasses -- and whether he'd dare flat-iron his hair
It was indeed bye-bye Curly as Chris Sligh, the plus-sized leader of the ”Fro Patrol,” got shunned for his rendition of the Police’s ”Every Little Thing She Does is Magic.” But before he heads off to Bermuda for a vacation with his wife, Chris called EW to share his thoughts on why the judges were unjustified in their criticism, why Sanjaya is better than we all think, and why he’s $50 richer today.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I should probably be embarrassed to say this, but I didn’t really notice you being so out of time with the band.
CHRIS SLIGH: I didn’t notice it either! You know what’s funny? One of the guys backstage is a drummer and he was like, ”Dude, the judges don’t know what they’re talking about.”
So why did you pretend you knew you messed up?
I had struggled with that song the whole time. Even in the small bit you saw with Gwen [Stefani], you saw I was struggling with the rhythm. I had chosen ”Give a Little Bit” and gone a day and a half with the song but it was one of those things that was so safe. I didn’t want to do safe. Phil was originally doing ”Every Little Thing She Does is Magic” but then he ended up going with ”Every Breath You Take.” Anyway, I did not realize it’s a master’s class in rhythm. [Bandleader] Ricky Miner gave me this thing called Dr. Beat [a metronome] to take home with me and I worked my tail off on that song. When it came to Tuesday for the performance for some reason it wasn’t clicking with the band so when I performed it, it was like I wasn’t sure. Then there was this one place in the verse I got a little bit off because I had forgotten the next line so I jumped in and caught up with myself. If I was out of rhythm it was really close.
Have you rewatched the performance?
I went back and watched it like 15 times on YouTube and I was like, ”I really don’t think it was off.” But I had packed my bags Wednesday morning because I know enough about the show to know that you don’t get horrible comments like that and get to stay.
Well, maybe you get to bottom three, but were you shocked you were the one going home?
I knew Phil wasn’t going home because he did really well. He and I are really close and we’re roommates now. And Haley has had two or three weeks where she’s been on the rise because of her hot pants. With her rising and because of my last few weeks, I knew I was falling, so I was about 99.5 percent sure I was going home.
I hear you made a bet with Phil…
Yeah, I made a bet during the day with Phil Stacey that I was going home so I got $50. But it was good because I went around to Dean and Miles, the hair stylist and clothing stylist, and said, ”I really appreciate everything you’ve done.” They were like, ”Why are you saying that? You’re not going home.” And I was like, ”Yes, I am.”
I was so surprised how apologetic you were to the judges because throughout the season you’ve really spoken your mind to them. Why so meek this week?
I have kept my mouth shut since the whole comment I made to Simon about ”Just because I don’t sound like Il Divo or the Teletubbies….” I had a blog up before the show that they had me take down, but the comments people leave go right to my email account. I got hate mail from people saying they hoped I would die or get kicked off the show. People took what I said to Simon as disrespectful but it wasn’t. It freaked me out. I went, ”Holy crap.” There are people who are literally crazy over American Idol. So I just really bit my tongue for the past few weeks.
Tell me more about your fondness for crocheting, knitting, and bongo drums. And did you get that fan question from Ryan ahead of time or was that a spur-of-the-moment response?
No, we got the question ahead of time. I came up with something funny but then people took it as being sarcastic. I was like, ”I’m just being silly!” When did America stop having a sense of humor? But you know the thing that’s great is I’m number 10 on this show. It’s given me and my band much more exposure than I ever could have imagined without a major-label deal. Yeah, there are people I would have liked to have made it further than, but if I’m smart and make the right choices I won’t ever have to work a real job. I’ll just be able to do what I love doing.
What were you going to sing during Tony Bennett week?
I was gonna sing, ”Give Me a Kiss to Build a Dream On.” I was really excited. I thought that might be my comeback.
What was your take on the comment that a Bob Jones University spokesman made about being disappointed with the musical direction you went in?
I’m trying to think of how to put this in a way that’s nice… It’s a sect of Christianity that puts their heads in the sand and doesn’t want to engage the world around them. I’ve talked about it on the show, that I was not able to listen to pop music growing up. To them, it’s literally a sin for me to sing pop or rock music. I almost feel sorry for them because life is so much bigger than what they’re seeing but at the same time I can respect their beliefs and say, ”God bless you.”
That’s very turn-the-other-cheek of you. On another deep topic, do you think taking your glasses off a few weeks ago did you in?
Glasses off was a bad choice. But I didn’t want to be against trying new things and trying to improve upon my look. There were several people on the show who were like, ”Yeah! Try it without glasses!” At least if you look at the songs I did, I took a lot of chances. That was the way I wanted to go out. I would have rather done ”Every Little Thing” than ”Give a Little Bit.”
You had one of the all-time great Hollywood week auditions with your rendition, along with Blake and Rudy, of ”How Deep is Your Love?” Was that one of the high points for you too?
That was not as much me as it was me putting myself with Blake and Rudy. Rudy and I met in Memphis where I auditioned. We got to be friends through email and Rudy knew Blake so he told Blake about me and Blake and I hung out every day during Hollywood. Blake and I are very, very tight.
Is it weird having a couple of minors — Sanjaya and Jordin — hanging out with all of you?
You have to learn how to talk around them. Blake and Chris definitely enjoy their cuss words so it’s kind of one of those things where it’s like, ”Earmuffs!” I think Jordin especially is incredibly mature for her age. Sanjaya is a good kid. I think he gets a bum rap. If you listen to his recordings on the American Idol website his voice sounds good. When I was 17 years old I had no idea how to sing on stage either.
But did you know enough not to attempt a ponytail mohawk?
The first time I saw him with the hair we were upstairs in the green room. I was typing on my computer and I looked up and just did a double take. I just stared at him like, ”What in the world did he do to get his hair to do that?” The security guard was cracking up because of the look on my face. I think it takes cojones to do a hairstyle like that.
It takes something, for sure. Did you ever think of flat-ironing your hair?
Dean [the Idol hairstylist] begged me to flat-iron my hair. I was like, ”Dude, I just cannot do it. I would lose all rock credibility if I flat-ironed my hair.”
Plus, then you would disappoint your Fro Patrol fans.
I thought that was a really clever, funny play on words. I don’t think the Soul Patrol people liked it too much. I just loved that there were people not in my family carrying signs that said, ”Bringing chubby back.”
Plenty of people loved your look.
Yeah, and it’s hard for a big boy like me to find clothes, but Mark Ecko gave me $2,000 of free stuff. I got so many cool clothes on this show. In the last three years I spent maybe $400 on clothes. I spent $150 on jeans for the show and I felt so guilty.
Speaking of the chub, you lost a lot of weight on Idol, didn’t you?
I lost like 34 pounds. Chris Richardson was helping me out. If I was running on the treadmill he’d yell at me, ”Run faster!” I’m really hoping to get a trainer now and work out every day. I really want to show up to the finale looking completely different. The heaviest I got was 300. Back when I was in college I weighed 190 pounds. I’d love to get down to 190 again.
Anything else you want us to brace ourselves for? Will you be going blond or anything?
Next week I was actually planning on putting some streaks in my hair. I’m thinking kind of like Justin Guarini, but I don’t want to say that I’m like Justin Guarini. Maybe I’ll do the Gina streaks. You never know.