Top 5 American Idol contestants go one-on-one with WDRB's Elizabeth Woolsey
WDRB's Elizabeth Woolsey sat in the audience for the live show and spent time with the contestants right before and after they took the stage, in order to give you a backstage pass to see a different side of them, learn who's spent lots of time in Kentucky and southern Indiana and reveal hints at who could reach the finale.
Fans of the show can wait for up to two years to get in to see American Idol, but we're giving you an all access pass behind the scenes.
When Woolsey arrived, the five contestants had one word for WDRB viewers.
"Hey Louisville!" they said. "Welcome to American Idol, WDRB!"
They can all sing, but some had trouble spitting out one specific word when we asked them to one-on-one.
"I always said, 'Loo-ey-ville, but I heard that's wrong? That it's Louisville?" said contestant Nick Fradiani. "And I say, 'Loo-ey-ville.' I don't know, but I'm trying."
"Louisville, is that not right or is that right?" asked contestant Jax.
"Louey-ville," said Tyanna Jones. "I say Louey-ville, is that right?"
"I think I'm the only contestant here saying it right, but it's Louisville," said Clark Beckham. "Not Looey-ville or Lewis-ville. I'm only a few hours from you guys and I pride myself on saying it right."
"This is Louisville, not Looey-ville, not Lewis-ville, this is Louisville!" added Rayvon Owen.
"Oh my gosh, I've been to Louisville, hung out in Louisville," he added. "It's an amazing city. I love Louisville. I used to work at Hollywood at Splashin' Safari in southern Indiana."
Tennessee native Clark is also a frequent visitor to Kentucky.
"Kentucky -- we'll go there to go cliff-jumping at this place right up 65," said Beckham. "I love Kentucky and I miss the South and Kentucky and everybody terribly."
"Oh man, what's not to like about Louisville?" asked Harry Connick Jr., one of the judges on the show. "It's such a soulful, historic place -- not a place I get to that much, so it still has a lot of novelty for me, but I love going."
"We have lot of experiences up there," said fellow judge Keith Urban. "A friend of mine got married just outside of Louisville years ago, and I've played there a lot over the years."
Live show days are long and grueling. The contestants get to the studio at 8 a.m., and the work doesn't stop when the show ends. WDRB's Elizabeth Woolsey asked Tyanna Jones what the hardest part is.
"I think the fact that we're at it all day, every day," she said. "There is no rest. [Viewers] probably think that after the show, we're like, 'Time to rest and sleep.' But no, we have to do press and tomorrow we'll do executive run-throughs for the show next week, so it all starts over again."
"It's pretty stressful, especially how quick it all goes," Fradiani said.
They work weeks ahead of each live show, choosing songs, rehearsing, getting every detail, from their outfits to the staging just right. And it all culminates in their 90-second performance.
"They see us perform, they judge, they vote whatever and that's great," said Owen. "That's why we're here: to put on a good show. But they don't see the hard work we put in, and the time we spend with each other. It's really tough."
Contestants never know if they'll be staying, or in what order their names will be announced. Jax says she prefers going first, having less time to over-think things.
"What's going through your mind right before performance?" asked Woolsey.
"That's a funny question," Jax replied. "Really, myself, yelling at myself to calm down, just like, 'Jax, you know what nerves do to your body. Look around at what you've accomplished so far. Look at your comfort zone. The stage is your element. This is where you belong. This is your home - stop, chill, relax."
And she wears something close to her heart every night that belongs to her dad, a firefighter who survived the 9-11 terror attacks.
"This is my new American Idol good luck charm," she said, displaying a charm inscribed with the number of firefighters who died in the terror attacks. "I'm wearing it for the entire season. This is my 343, the number of firefighters who died on 9-11, and my Dad is always across the room saying, 'The brothers are looking down you right now.' The brothers are always looking down on me. I owe it to them. This is not just about me -- I'm only 10 percent of this. That's how I feel anyway."
Hard times are nothing new for 16-year-old Tyanna, whose family was homeless at one time. She says she hears positive and negative feedback about her story, but ultimately it helps ground her.
"They tell us not to read the comments, but when they're coming at you, it's just so many different voices, and it can get to you and overwhelm you," said Jones. "But I have to say my family is the reason why I'm still sane right now. I'm really happy all of that happened because if it didn't, I wouldn't be as prepared as I am today."
The contestants aren't the only ones who get negative feedback. Judge Harry Connick Jr is regularly booed for his feedback to the contestants.
"When I got constructive criticism, I didn't always like it either, but it's something you have to hear, and ultimately it will help these young performers grow," he said.
"Are you surprised by how things are going?" said judge Jennifer Lopez. "I'm not surprised. I kind of had a feeling we'd be where we are right now, kind of had my ideas about who would be here and they're still here. It just goes to show you that the ones with the real artistry and talent and drive, when you recognize that in the beginning, that's what's going to get them through to the end."
So who will be there in the end?
"I can't say but I have an idea?" Lopez said.
"A boy and a girl," she said.
Judge Keith Urban reveals one singer he thinks will still be standing at the finale.
"Gosh, I think Clark will be there, and it's going to be tough because Tyanna keeps barreling through," he said. "Rayvon keeps coming through from way on the outside, and Nick keeps coming through with killer instincts."
"Wow!" said Beckham. "That's the goal: to be on the stage for the finale. And that's what I hope to do...that's really nice. That gives me confidence that one of the judges, who are all legends in their fields, believes in me that way."
Rayvon hopes to be there too - after weeks of landing in the bottom two.
"Honestly, it's tough being in the bottom," Owen said. "But it's taught me so much and brought such a fight out of me that I can't complain. At the end of the day, I can't complain because I've learned and become better than who I was last week, and next week, I'll be better than who I am this week."
Right now, it's anyone's game to win or lose.
"It's really a good race at this point," Urban said. "Pretty cool!"
It takes a small army to put on each performance and the live show.
Next Wednesday, we'll show you what you've never seen leading up the show and right afterwards.
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