Idol's Paul Jolley on the Bon Jovi Cover You Never Heard and the Full Story Behind His Beatles Track

If Paul Jolley ran things on American Idol, his Season 12 trajectory might have looked and sounded very different.

The recently ejected ninth-place finisher sat down for an Idology interview where he discussed a possible solution to the show’s sometimes tired theme weeks, the Bon Jovi song he’d prefered to have tackled instead of Lonestar’s “Amazed,” and his feelings on rival Lazaro Arbos covering the same Keith Urban track he’d picked in the Season 12 Vegas Rounds.

RELATED | American Idol: What Should the Top 7 Sing for ‘Classic Rock, No Ballads’ Week?

Plus, there’s talk of Nicki Minaj’s tough critiques, that hinky Top 40 Week “tiebreaker” and his trouble with the word “theatrical.”

RELATED | American Idol Top 8 Performance Night Recap: This Theme’s a Mystery, Every Contestant Must Stand Alone

Press play below for the full shebang, and for all my Idol-related news, videos, commentary and recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Jacob P says:

    Yes! Can’t wait for Idology!

  2. Davey says:

    If Paul Jolley is reading this I want him to know I think he is a very good singer and shouldn’t give up. He got my votes and I am sorry he was part of the agenda to get rid of all male singers as quickly as possible on Idol this year.

  3. Adrian Arciniega says:

    I’m very impressed by Paul’s answers, he’s not as one dimensional as I thought.

  4. Dan says:

    Doing Living on Prayer would have made him so much better and unpredictable. Damn you producers!

  5. Johnny says:

    Actually Paul was my favorite guy in the whole thing even before top 40. I feel like they made us all watch as they tore away at his singing style and confidence with those ridiculous critiques every week. I started telling my friends I just knew he was no longer picking his own songs because he wasn’t the same Jolly guy anymore. I just kept wishing he would have rebelled and still did his own thing for the live show. I know, I know, they would have dug up some dirt or something on him if he didn’t comply.

    • LeahKittyS says:

      What dirt was there to dig up? The whole Internet already knows about his supposed sweetheart Brock. But I agree, the system was very unfair to him.

      • Johnny says:

        I didn’t know about any Brock guy until just now when you mentioned it and I thought I knew everything LOL. But what I should have said was they’d “dig” up something. Power of media is a b**** to say the least. By the time one could prove or disprove something thrown out in media on these contestants the producers would have already had their way of getting rid of him. I just have a request now: Can we get Jolley,Lambert, and Aiken on the finale to perhaps perform “Livin on a Prayer”? Would love THAT!

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      I never heard anything about “Brock”, either. I agree with Johnny. I agree with Johnny’s opinion regarding Paul.

  6. My Alter Ego says:

    That Paul never reached a point where he felt, and thus sang with confidence is truly a shame, because he’s far, far better than Lazaro. Initially, I suspected that he could run away with it all — because I’m still unconvinced that, despite all the AI machinations to ensure that a woman will win this year, it will actually happen.

    • LeahKittyS says:

      There are two men left in the competition. One is black. The other is the VFTW pick. Both have been in the Bottom 3. And the women are blowing the roof off the place week after week. How exactly is a man going to win?

      • Kelle says:

        I… am trying not to be offended by you pointing out that Burnell is black, but I seriously wonder what relevancy that fact has and why you said it as if it’s the reason he won’t win…

        • LeahKittyS says:

          Have you seen the last five winners? Whoever votes on this show is racist. Maybe it wasn’t always this way, or maybe it was sexism, not racism, that led to this trend, but considering how white washed the last couple tours have been, I think they’d still prefer a white woman over a black man.

          • Trouty Mouth says:

            Fact: in all the years that WGWG contestants have won the competition, there have been only 2 POC contestants to make the finale (Jessica Sanchez and David Archuleta).

        • Mafs95 says:

          She’s right. Even though Ruben won season 2, at that time there was still some influence from the 90’s and people were hoping for the next Boys II Men or R. Kelly. Nowadays, it’s completely different because what people want is either pop music or some indie rock stuff.
          That’s why you either see Nicki Minaj, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, etc having so much success, as well as bands like Mumfords & Sons, The Black Keys, The Lumineers… Yeah, 10 years really make a difference to change the music industry completely.

          • Mafs95 says:

            Ok, I didn’t finish what I wanted to say LOL. This means Leah is actually right about Burnell not having any shots of being the winner of season 12 because of his skin color (and his music style, mostly). Also, he’s definitely not the best singer from the bunch, but neither were Lee, Taylor, Scotty and Phillip (I like these last two I referred, though).

          • LeahKittyS says:

            I hate it when posts get cut off like that :)

        • Ben says:

          If you are offended by Leah, rather than noting the accuracy of her statement that the fact Burnell is black means he will not win, it probably shows that you are not deeply familiar with the stats behind Idol’s voting.

          • darcy's evil twin says:

            Thank you, Ben. Good grief, now you’re a racist if you point out the obvious! There was NOTHING out of line with what Leah wrote. When I was a kid black people were routinely called the “n” word, they drank out of separate water fountains, and couldn’t use the same entrance to the movie theatre. THAT was racism.
            there have been three black Idol winners (one of whom I could not stand – Fantasia, and not because I’m a racist). I think the recent lack of minority/female “Idol” winners has nothing to do with racism or misogynistic attitudes. It would be interesting to see a population distribution of Idol voters and how many times they voted. I don’t think the voters are racist at all. If we were all such hateful, racist people we wouldn’t be watching Mr. Slezak (a gay man) and Melinda Dolittle (a black woman and IMO one of the BEST contestants ever) week after week on Idology.

      • teatime says:

        Burnell is not going to win because he makes everything sound the same and he does not have any stand out performances.
        Lazaro is not going to win because he can’t remember the lyrics.

  7. Kristi says:

    It almost sounded like he was on the verge of tears in this interview…..
    He made it pretty clear that producers forced him not to perform Living on a Prayer. It’s kind of sickening the amount of behind the scences manipulation that goes on. Imagine how much better this show would be if they’d let the contestants perform what actually works best for them.

    • Ben says:

      Or, you know, the non-cynics among us could say that people like Jimmy give strong advice to do what they think is best for the contestants; and that any contestant who has felt strongly enough in the past to say no, I’m doing my song, has always been able to without any problem?

  8. Mafs95 says:

    I love how Slezak makes the contestants feel so comfortable during the interviews and he makes the questions that we all want to know, not the generic ones.

  9. QueenJ says:

    So that’s two in a row now admitting producers meddled with their song choices. I also would love to hear Paul do LOAP. Great interview as always, thanks MS!

    • LeahKittyS says:

      I love it when the contestants call out the producers for manipulation. I’m surprised the production team hasn’t had one of these guys assassinated or something by now. Although with the “American Idol Horror Story” going on with for the men this year…

  10. Stacie says:

    The only reason I don’t like an original night week is because not everyone is a songwriter, not everyone can write their own music. There are tons and tons of people in the music industry today that either need to collaborate or need someone to write all of their music. Music isn’t like it used to be, I wish it was, I wish there more people like Carole King or Lennon/McCartney or even Lady Gaga or Adele but there aren’t that’s why they are who they are. So I don’t know if it it’d be fair to pit someone who writes their own music with someone who doesn’t. That seems like it would be a completely different aspect of the show, and I can’t see them going that way, as much as I feel like anything new would be great.

  11. Jack says:

    I’m sorry Nigel, I think you’re great at SYTYCD, but it’s time to for someone else to take over Idol. After watching this interview with Paul, I actually think it would be fantastic if he, or maybe even another former Idol contestant (or at least someone young!) was in charge of Idol. Someone who is better at listening to the viewers and the reviewers about what they want to see/hear.

  12. Davey says:

    Paul should wait a year or two and audition for The Voice.

  13. robinlemke says:

    Really made me like Paul. I’m sad that his personality didn’t really come through in the show.

  14. sg54 says:

    It is quite obvious when he was talking about why he couldn’t do Living on a Prayer that he was trying to not say that the producers forced him to the other song. Its a shame because I would love to see how he would handle that song. He seems genuinely serious about his career, and thats always a good thing to see. he definitely should have stayed over Lazaro that week.

    • Jenny says:

      It just makes me believe more and more they were so set on having a girl win the manipulated it by having weaker boy since the time public voting started. Every year I think they can’t manipulate things more, yet they surprise again and again.

  15. Ben says:

    Paul is theatrical even in this interview. It’s just his natural persona. Unfortunately I do think it worked against him. For whatever reason, I find Paul comes across as false and whiney – even though I know (objectively) that anyone else giving exactly the same answers to Michael’s questions would not. It’s really not Paul’s fault, but I do think ultimately this is what had him lose.

    • Mark says:

      I agree. I think he comes off as way too gay. AI doesn’t do well with gay males.

      • LeahKittyS says:

        To be honest? I think all five of them are gay. If not all of them, then definitely Paul, Lazaro, and Devin (have you heard how he talks? He walked right out of “Ugly Betty.”) And I think that’s kind of sad, considering how the producers are screwing the guys over this season in order to get a girl winner. That trio last week was set up to fail. Picking weaker men for the voters was one thing, but then to point out how much weaker they are than the women every single time they get up there is hurtful and mean. If they really are in the closet, what a nasty subliminal message the show is sending, that “girly” men are something to be made fun of. Seriously, these guys are being pounded in the butt so hard they reek of lubricant oil.

        • Mark says:

          I did think Devin was gay as well and Lazaro probably is but then again he’s Latino and they can sometimes be a little dramatic as a culture so that’s not 100%. I love Lazaro though so much lol. He makes me cry and is so damn cute. I know he’s not a good singer but I do not care. I want him to win. American Idol really needs to join the 21st century and allow contestants to be openly gay like the Voice does.

          • LeahKittyS says:

            I’m a little confused. You say Lazaro’s drama might amount to him being Latino. Devin is also Latino, shouldn’t he have the same reason? But no big deal; I just love the way these men and women act together. It’s like five girly girls and their gay best friends.
            And I’m glad to see someone else likes Lazaro, I’m tired of all the negativity surrounding him on the Internet. I haven’t voted for him since Top 20 Week, but I literally prayed for him to get in to the finals (the other two I asked for were Devin and Burnell, and then Paul was a bonus, so I was a happy camper). I won’t turn against him at all unless he knocks out a higher ranked female (which is highly unlikely.)

          • Princess Adora says:

            Why in the world would you want someone who is “not a good singer” to win over contestants who are phenomenal singers?? Just because he has a sad story and is attractive? That makes absolutely no sense to me! I understand why Lazaro wants to sing for a living: it’s easier for him to communicate and to feel “normal”, and I’m sorry that that is his reality. But he’s not actually that great of a musician: he’s off key most of the time and shows no creativity with the songs he chooses and how he arranges them. Maybe he can be the next Kesha, but let’s please do NOT make him the next American Idol!

      • Amy says:

        Gotta agree with both Ben and Mark…and wondered why until I read those last two remarks why no one else felt that way. I got “whiney” immediately, “high maintenance” “drama queen” and somehow “doesn’t get it”…some of his answers, just felt he doesn’t get it. Not about the judges valid critique of him being theatrical and what that meant. Your singing can be too theatrical, as his was for the pop/country stuff he was singing without “ever having done Broadway.” And his “I didn’t really care what they said”…well…..that’s kinda not the point on Idol…you should care…even with all we can criticize in the judges from time to time…the contestants at least shouldn’t admit to “not caring.” But I think the contestants who take the critiques better and have a better attitude than he does, do better.
        I was not a fan, but it’s not why I’m saying these negatives…he just plain seems this way to me and is a total turn off. Was not a fan of his singing either. Last week I YouTubed him after his exit to see if in other realms he came off differently….I was not impressed. He’s a downer too when he performs…no eye contact, no connection with the audience. Wow…ok…now I’m raggin’ on him so I’ll stop.

        • Davey says:

          I’m glad you stopped because your comments are really offensive. Paul is a drama queen and high maintenance? I see no evidence of that. Are you saying that because he’s gay? Wow. Meanwhile Lazaro gets to cry every episode and the judges tell him how brave he is.

          Paul should have talked about his friend dying, he would still be on the show. But if it’s true that AI viewers and producers can’t deal with gay contestants then the show is really in the dark ages.

          And I agree Nigel Lithgoe has ruined this show.

          • Ben says:

            Amy’s comments are offensive because you take comments that made no mention of his sexual orientation and decided to interpret them this way?

            See my comment below. I agree with Amy’s assessment, and I don’t think it’s fair for anyone to say its because he’s gay; or conversely that I only feel that way because he is gay. Clearly Amy and I feel there is evidence to give us that impression. It doesn’t mean he is high maintenance or a drama queen – we would have to actually know him to know… it just means he comes across that way.

            Stephen Fry has a great quote. “It’s now very common to hear people say ‘I am offended by that’ as if that gives them certain rights. It’s actually nothing more than a whine. It has no meaning, it has no purpose, it has no reason to be respected as a phrase’. I couldn’t agree more. Any person whose choice in life is to be offended by something which is an opinion that someone is entirely entitled to have, which isn’t even directed at them, in my experience all those people get out of life is a whole lot of bitterness, and bitterness doesn’t change the world for the better.

      • Ben says:

        I don’t think it is merely coming off as gay. Devin was also patently gay and yet I liked him a lot, and he came across as genuine and humble. Even ‘theatrical’, which I guess is a more common gay characteristic, isn’t a problem in itself – there are people who could come on idol and be theatrical and endearing at the same time. With Paul, though, it just didn’t work – he never connected in a likable way.

    • tewence says:

      i agree. i found him to be quite annoying actually…he almost acts like a 13 year old girl. in this interview alone, he seemed really pouty and annoyed.

  16. Rami says:

    It’s curious why they didn’t let him sing Living on a Prayer, seeing as Bon Jovi were on the results show the next night you would think they would do a whole ‘Jon what did you think of Paul’s performance’ bit and it couldn’t have been a clearance issue? Just weird. Besides Devin, Paul is the only male this year that I really liked and I thought that he had a chance to Haley Reinhart himself if given the chance and time on the show. Instead we get Lazaro sticking around week in , week out.

  17. Jessica says:

    I agree with you Amy. I think about Scotty and Adam and what i remember is the confidence but also respect. The professionalism and standing your ground on what you want to do. That is what makes a winner and successful singer. Not to leave Phillip out but he had more goofy and aloof moments. He had the talent to back him up though. I feel this year’s contestants are lacking confidence and a bit of a back bone all around. Candice and Kree have it but I still think lack sometimes. All this said Paul’s last performance was his best!

  18. MB says:

    Paul did sound one of the best on the studio recordings. I don’t know what it was but it was different than watching him on stage. He is more theatrical than he realizes and that takes away from the performance.

  19. darcy's evil twin says:

    Another great interview, Mr. Slezak. Thanks for bringing out the true personality of these contestants.
    Wow, what a nice guy. I think Paul’s a good singer and I wish him well. Seems like a decent human being.
    And for those of you that keep referring to “Lazaro” as “Lazarus”, I hope you watched the final broadcast of “The Bible” last night on The History Channel so you could see the REAL Lazarus, LOL.

  20. dj says:

    He seems very frustrated with how the whole thing went, and I can’t blame him. From the strange “tie-breaker” to Nicki to Lazaro, this has been one strange season. That must have been really hard to lose a good friend and not be able to be home mourning with your other friends and going to the funeral.

  21. ohreli says:

    Paul doesnt understand why he got the the “theatrical” comments, but listen to the way he describes his songs–Eleanor Rigby, for instance. SO theatrical!! He should consider musical theatre production. Seriously, he obviously has a sense for it.

  22. jfurrow says:

    If a dude was to win shouldve been paul. others were gifted singers but Paul was the best vocally. put them in a boy