'Idol' exit Q&A: Brooke White
The singing nanny talks about the judges' conflicting critiques, getting her confidence up, and relishing a pep talk from Carly Simon
Earnest or annoying? Vulnerable or whiny? A true talent or a one-trick pony? You either loved or hated Brooke White, the G-rated nanny who became a contender with her powerful rendition of ”Let It Be” but lost her mojo this week with ”I’m a Believer.” Brooke called EW to answer some questions — and she didn’t cry even once.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Brooke, I didn’t think you’d be the one to go this week.
BROOKE WHITE: Yeah, obviously, I was pretty upset about it. I wanted to be strong. I really did. But I melted. I cracked. I became the sobbing, vulnerable Brooke for the 50 billionth time. People were probably like, ”Oh, please. Just stop.” I just barely got through ”I Am…I Said.”
When I sat in on rehearsals last week, you were going to just have an acoustic guitar on ”I Am…I Said.” And you were playing with the ”I’m a Believer” arrangement. What happened?
I felt like I’d done so many serious songs, which is kind of me, but beyond my serious side I am lighthearted and fun and I like having a good time and being joyful. I kind of had some challenges picking a Neil Diamond song that worked for me. But I couldn’t exactly say that to the audience. As far as starting on the guitar, I just had a strong feeling playing it on the piano. I loved both. They were complimentary about ”I Am…I Said.” I don’t know. I could analyze it to death. I could take it apart. It would make no difference. I am where I am at. And hey, I made it to the top 5.
The judges seemed to always want you to channel your inner Carly Simon, and then when you did, they’d tell you to step out of your comfort zone. How did you make sense of what they said to you?
It’s a constant contradiction. I appreciate that the judges have to do their jobs. They’ve given me great feedback, but some of it makes no sense at all. There is no formula to how this works. You try to stay in your zone and then you’re predictable. You get out of your zone and then it’s like, ”Well, you should stay in your zone.” At one point, I was getting pretty steady good feedback from them. But then it got rough. But all the while I don’t think I changed my strategy.
So what went wrong?
The arrangement isn’t always in your hands. I wanted to make ”I’m a Believer” into something fresh and cool and new. At the end of the day, though, in an hour of rehearsal you have to do two songs, and there’s only so much you can do. So I just went forward and hoped.
When you were backstage with David Cook and Syesha, did you think you were in trouble?
I knew that morning that I was going home. It was just a gut feeling. It’s funny, though — regardless of what Simon said about Tuesday night being a ”nightmare,” in the room it was not. It was really well received by the audience. For the first time in a couple of weeks I felt like I was completely present. I was in it. I had a confidence which I had been lacking. After the show Simon commented, ”Maybe that didn’t work for you.”
He meant that people like you without confidence?
Yeah. It’s like, Thanks, dude. He says what he thinks. Maybe he’s right. Who knows? I leave knowing that I really enjoyed it. I walked off that stage with not a tear.
NEXT: ”It’s live television. We’re humans. And humans make errors. Some people like to hold onto things for a long time.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How weird was it for all of you when Paula made her now-infamous blunder, commenting on Jason Castro’s second song before he sang it?
BROOKE WHITE: I don’t know exactly what happened with Paula. It was a confusing night. People make mistakes, like last week when I stopped and started again. It’s live television. We’re humans. And humans make errors. Some people like to hold onto things for a long time.
When we met last week, you told me that you tortured yourself about starting over. How did you move past that?
You know, it didn’t hit me what I did until after it was over. Like, how did that just happen? The situation can do some pretty funny things to you. You’re a fish out of water. Sometimes I feel really at home on stage, and sometimes I don’t. It’s all over my face when I’m comfortable.
I think that’s what people like about you.
Or hate about me.
Do you think people hated you?
Well, hate is a strong word, but maybe I wasn’t everyone’s favorite.
The judges told me that they think it will be a David Cook vs. David Archuleta finale. Did you all know that’s how they felt?
I don’t know how to answer that question. It’s very clear they’re strong contestants. They’ve done pretty well and they’ve been pretty consistent, so it’s a fairly easy observation to make. At the same time, the show is very unpredictable. Look at Chris Daughtry. Look at Michael Johns. It’s in the country’s hands. Sometimes people don’t vote when they think someone is safe. So anything could happen.
Do you have anything good to say about being voted off?
I talked to Carly Simon this morning. I was doing an interview and they got her on the line. She was so kind and generous with her thoughts and comments. I felt like I could relate to her, even her voice. This little raspy thing I have has taken me years to accept. Some days I wish I could belt out notes. But she just gave me wonderful and generous thoughts. It was incredible and gave me a real boost to make it through this day.
Will you be focusing on recording now that you’re off the show?
Yeah. I did an independent album before the show. I didn’t have a record deal. But I’m here. I’m in Van Nuys. I’m here to do this. I’m here to work.
So you won’t be going back to the nanny gig anytime soon? Because I bet you could get a raise.
The family always joked they’d give me a raise if I went back. They’re the most gorgeous kids, and I love them to pieces. But, well, I’ll just say I don’t mind babysitting every once in a while.
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