'The X Factor': Josh, Chris, and Melanie on their superstar duets, and their friends back home
After giving their all for their final two songs — and just kinda getting through a Michael Jackson tribute — The X Factor finalists Josh Krajcik, Chris Rene, and Melanie Amaro were understandably rather zonked after the show. But they still took time to talk with EW about their respective duets with Alanis Morissette, Avril Lavigne, and R. Kelly; those raucous live via satellite visits to their hometowns; and their impressions of their fellow contestants. Check out what they had to say below, and see if you can tell which finalist was probably a bit less tired than the other ones:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was the rehearsal process like with Alanis?
JOSH KRAJCIK: Well, the first thing we did was hug when she came into the room. And we talked for a little bit. We sang it through a couple times. We went over what parts and how we would do it, and we sang for about an hour together. We just got a synergy going with each other. It was fun. She’s charming. She’s real. She’s sweet.
You’ve been good at covering different genres, but if I’m being honest, that particular Alanis song of hers doesn’t jump out at me as a Josh Kracjik song. How did you make it feel authentically from you?
Well, actually, from a musical standpoint, the way it was written, it’s similar to some songs I’ve written. The minor chords, the dark, the brooding kind of feel to it, is something I can really relate to as a writer. Obviously Alanis Morissette’s not me, you know what I mean, but that’s what’s fun about it. What I think we do have in common is we’re both organic artists, in our own way very different. But I couldn’t think of a better way for this to turn out than to have her with me on that stage.
When Simon spoke with the press he made it sound like you were leading the charge as the first person to choose to sing their audition song. What led you to choose “At Last”?
I wanted to go full circle. I wanted to show, “Here’s where I was. Here’s where I am.” And I wanted to do it my way, stripped down. Forget the glitz, the glamor, the television. Just me and a guitar, great lights, great stage, and that’s it. And that was a decision that came easy for me. It turned out that [Melanie and Chris] did their first songs as well. I had no control over that. Doesn’t bother me at all. It is what it is.
Now, that mid-way Michael Jackson song — it didn’t strike me that you had a lot of rehearsal time for that.
[Laughs hard] Yeah. You caught that, didn’t you? [It was] very thrilling to be involved in a Michael Jackson tribute with Cirque du Soliel. [Pause] Uh, I can’t dance with a gun to my head. So even simple steps were extremely difficult for me. There’s no way for me to not look wonky and weird doing that stuff. So [laughing] I just tried to have fun with it. I don’t know if I’m going to watch it back, but we’ll see. I’m sure I’ll hear from my buddies about that.
Speaking of your buddies, did you know people like your grandmother and that awesome guy with the baby would be in your home town?
I had a feeling. I heard there was something going on in my hometown, but I didn’t know what the extent of it was. I didn’t know that my buddy Wade and his beautiful daughter — who I consider my niece — would be on the TV there. It was a heck of a moment. I said to one of the EPs, “Thank you for that, man.” Very very cool. And the support that my hometown gives me is amazing. Couldn’t be happier.
How did you feel your competition did?
I think that America’s gotten it right so far. I think that we deserve to be here. Melanie and Chris are incredible. To win or lose to them is an honor.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was it like rehearsing with Avril Lavigne?
CHRIS RENE: It was a lot. We had to work hard. Rigorous work.
What was your reaction when you heard you were working with her?
I was so thankful. I basically started dancing around, like, “Wooo!” Then I was, like, scared to meet her, and star-struck and all that. And we’re past that. This is a beautiful person here. A great artist. A super pop star, rock star, and this is my chance to connect with her up on that stage.
When I heard that song, it didn’t strike me as automatically in your wheelhouse. How did you make it authentic to who you are?
Well, I added my little rap in there. I’ll do that with any song that I’ve done on the show. I put myself into it.
How do you feel Josh and Melanie did on the show?
I think they did a good job. I think they did great. I think all three of three us left it out there.
How much time did you have to rehearse that Michael Jackson song? It didn’t seem like you had a lot.
There you go. [Smiles]
What was your reaction when you saw the people from your hometown?
It was so emotional for me. It was so beautiful to see people from my hometown supporting me.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Talk to me about your rehearsal with R. Kelly. How did that go?
MELANIE AMARO: It did come together quickly, but we worked so hard, and we practiced, practiced, practiced. And we have come a long way. To be able to say “I sang with R. Kelly” is something that’s really cool. Not everybody gets to say that. I had a lot of time with him to rehearse and do what we needed to. I was happy.
I noticed that some of that glitter got in your mouth.
[Laughs] Oh god. I mean, it’s so pretty! It’s so nice, but it gets all over you, and it’s like, ugh. It’s crazy.
How do you think your other contestants did tonight?
They did amazing. I was really proud of Chris and Josh. They have worked so hard too, you know?
How are you feeling about tomorrow?
Whatever happens, whatever results come out, I’m proud of what I’ve done and where I’ve come from and what I’ve accomplished.
Who were those two guys in the first hometown check in? They were very enthusiastic.
The first was my pastor, and one was my youth choir director. And they’re so proud. [Chuckles] Oh gosh.
Did you know they were going to be there?
No, I didn’t. But I was happy to see that they’re supporting me. It was so nice. I was so shocked. It was amazing.