“American Idol” 's Matt Giraud on Winning Over Lady Gaga, Dancing With Paula Abdul - Rolling Stone
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“American Idol” ‘s Matt Giraud on Winning Over Lady Gaga, Dancing With Paula Abdul

Ousted American Idol hopeful Matt Giraud stopped by the Rolling Stone offices yesterday to chat about the big Save, finding a fan in Lady Gaga and convincing people he’s not in fact Justin Timberlake. Before we learn who the next eliminated singer will be later tonight, here’s Giraud, in his own words:

What would you have sung for Rock Week?
“Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne [laughs]. It would have been funny if I had done that, but I think that I would have done a bluesy version of Lynryd Skynrd’s “Simple Man.”

How did getting saved change your performance in the weeks following?
I was going to do the Bird and the Bee version of “How Deep is Your Love,” which is really slow and really pretty. After, I got saved I was like, “I need to step it up and rock it out.” So I did a little wink wink humor and did “Stayin’ Alive.”

Do you have plans to go back to the piano bar?
Maybe I’ll just slip in there one night, like “Mind if I play one?” I’m excited to go back and see the people that gave me my first real musical job.

How invested in the show before you were on it?
I watched last year and I voted for David Cook 10 times. I thought I was really helping him with those 10 votes. [Laughs].

There were a lot of different things thrown into the mix this year: the Top 36, the Top 13, the Save and the four judges.
With the Top 36, I think it made better TV to see us all duke it out 12 at a time for three spots, but I didn’t like it at all. I loved the new save rule, though. I think they should bring it back every year — it gives a kid another chance and it makes the show more interesting. Having four judges did help me, unless you did badly and had to be told so four times in a row.

What do you think you’re going to sing on tour?
I’m really excited to get up there and own it and to talk to the people that put me through. I’ve tossed around a lot of ideas. I’m definitely thinking about doing “Georgia on My Mind” because a lot of my fans like that from Hollywood Week. I’m thinking about “So Small,” “Part-Time Lover,” and “Stayin’ Alive.”

What was working with Paula like?
You practice your song for the show for two hours, but we rehearsed for 10 with her. She was tough. She was like [Impersonating Paula’s voice], “Hey guys, I’m really nice behind the judges table but at dance rehearsal I’m a different person. So, FROM THE TOP!’ ” She kicked my butt.

With people comparing you to Justin Timberlake, do you feel pressure to step up your dancing?
I knew that as soon as I put a hat on and started dancing, everyone would be like “Justin!” It’s white guy with soul, I understand, but don’t really want to do that kind of music at all. If you were to come to my concert in a couple of years, I want to have me on a piano with a band around me. On Idol, I learned what I’m best at. I would love to make a soulful-rock type album — the Fray, Gavin DeGraw, maybe some Alicia Keys; that’s what I want to go for. I want to sit down and write with some people.

Who would you want to work with?
Kara DioGuardi would be cool. I’d love to write with Colbie Caillat or Gavin DeGraw or Ben Folds. Lady Gaga told me she was sad I didn’t make it through and that she couldn’t wait to hear my first album.

What’s on your iPod?
I have everything on there. One Republic, Coldplay, Alicia Keys, a lot of gospel music. I have a lot of Disney music on my iPod; I think I have the Pinocchio soundtrack on there. I actually used to do a Disney bit at the piano bar. In a room full of drunken people, I’d just bust out the Lion King.

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