Idol's Devin Velez on Nicki Minaj Feud and That Infamous Trio! Plus: Bieber & Pink Theme Nights?

Devin Velez isn’t afraid to pepper an interview with the occasional bold-faced name. As the American Idol finalist sat down for his freewheeling Idology interview, he rattled off Andrea Bocelli, Katharine McPhee, Adam Lambert, Beyoncé, Pink, Justin Bieber and, yes, Nicki Minaj as artists who were on his mind during his Season 12 run.

VIDEO | Idology: Can Angie Rebound From Disaster? Plus: Lazaro’s Bad ‘Tude, Amber & Kree Advice!

Devin also discusses the highs and lows of his eight-place run: Why he wasn’t able to muster up his “complete passion” during Beatles Week; how he approached the English-to-Spanish transition on “Listen”; and why his stint in military school proved beneficial during a disastrous performance of “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” alongside Lazaro Arbos and Burnell Taylor.

Plus, we dive into why he never played guitar or piano on the Idol stage, and the little dustup he had on Twitter last week with Nicki Minaj (and her legion of angry Barbz). So press play below for the whole interview, then hit the comments with your thoughts!

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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81 Comments
  1. gailer says:

    I liked what Devin said about not caring about winning

    • Johnny says:

      This thing of how these contestants can openly let us know they don’t care about winning really baffles me and is making me rethink my theory on why the show is going down. If I think back to the seasons I actually watched in full, I still hated most of the theme weeks when announced. BUT the seasons I liked best had contetants who at least seemed to work very hard to get the title and you could tell they didn’t want to settle for less than 1st place and used theme weeks to reinvent themselves.

  2. LeahKittyS says:

    Great interview! Loved the fashion thing, and Devin’s confidence. I didn’t realize he was such a fast talker. My favorite part was that he didn’t let the whole “it’s a girl’s season” thing get to him, no matter how much the producers screwed him and his male competitors over. And I agree, a P!nk week is an awesome idea.

    Speaking of the producers screwing over the guys, I’m not sure how relevant this is, but take a look at this picture from last week’s results show. It’s a little reminder to me of how sad this year is turning out for the boys. Seriously, photoshop some nooses around their necks and shackles around their wrists, and it perfectly captures the producers’ agenda.

    • HitTheGroundRunning says:

      True, OTOH, it also gets people to realize what it was like for any females on the show the last half decade or more. Maybe the producers are screwing over the guys this season but a good part of the audience was doing no less to the girls for years (sometimes with the helps of the producers too). Not that two wrongs necessarily turns into a right. If they hadn’t let the voting get so wild or perhaps more so if they hadn’t manipulated so much and driven people away and started changing things they’d not have gotten to this point. Perhaps.

      • MC says:

        I think you have correctly summarized what has happened on this show over the last five years or so. ITA!

      • gazebo says:

        Yes! Just think of the impossibility of Lee Dwyze winning over Crystal Bowersox! That was really a travesty and the single worst season of Idol ever. I’m glad for the girls this season, but I wish it hadn’t been so blatant a manipulation.

    • HitTheGroundRunning says:

      Anyway, he did leave too soon.

  3. Timmah says:

    Great interview. Devin should have gone much further.

    A Pink week would be awesome. Or just pick any artist from this century.

    • Johnny says:

      With any artist of this decade, I think we needvto be specific like they did saying (no ballads). Or else contestants may dig up old artists who just happen to have managed to put out yet another tired release in this decade. That said, “Artists of this decade (artists who had their FIRST album released in this decade). How about that? lol

  4. jalahyacinth says:

    I might actually watch Idol if they did Pink week. Or anything with any edge/personality…

  5. dani n. says:

    Intelligent guy! Beautiful voice.

  6. justin says:

    Gotta give props to somebody who can throw SO MUCH shade in the last minute of the interview! #WIN

    • Shana says:

      Let’s be honest, all instances of throwing shade were full of win! the last comment was the perfect way to end the interview

  7. Noa says:

    He is charming and smart!!! Great kid. Seems like he’s very musically talented. I wish he would have waited a couple of years and used that to perform as much as he can and learn how to connect with an audience. One of my favorite Idology interviews in a while.

  8. lynnyloo says:

    This interview made me like him even more. So much personality that we didn’t get to see while he was on the show! He seems so polished for such a young guy and I love how he handled himself with the trio backlash. Easily the most likeable guy who has gone home from the top 10 so far.

  9. bza says:

    “In the albums to come…”

    Slow down their tiger. The realities of the market are going to have a field day with that presumption.

    • Joy says:

      As long as he’s not counting on making those albums under the auspices of a major label, or on getting rich making them, it’s not an unreasonable plan. An independent artist with a small but committed fan base (as Idol fan bases usually are) has a pretty good shot at selling enough to cover reasonable recording costs — not lavish major-label production, but you don’t really need all those bells and whistles to showcase a standout vocal and a classic style. If Devin really wants to record, not for the sake of wealth or fame but for the music itself, there’s no reason he shouldn’t be able to make it happen.

      • JASon says:

        I agree! I think the model for all non top 2 finalists should be the Kickstarter route and keep the recording costs cheap. Of course that is only possible if you write your own music as purchasing songs is very expensive

        • Joy says:

          Good point about needing songs. In Devin’s case, though, I think he could easily follow the Michael Buble model (the crooner style seems right up his alley, and he could also bring a lot of soul and Latin flavor to it), and get a lot of mileage from original interpretations of classic material — anything that’s already been around a while is going to be a lot less expensive to license. I would definitely pay good money to hear Devin do something like Buble’s last few albums (just one or two originals, plus a few rearranged pop/rock songs, and a handful of standards…). Of course, if it does turn out he’s a good songwriter, that works too — but I think lack of material shouldn’t be a problem for him either way!

    • Aly says:

      Slow down THERE tiger. And I don’t see anything wrong with him being confident in his future.

  10. jerrired says:

    Great interview. Devin was in my top 3 favorites this season, so I hope he achieves all the success he deserves.

    I’m still not sure how I feel about Nicki Minaj. I’ve never really listened to her music or followed her career at all. But I really like that she’s one of the only judges that actually gives sound advice. Though Keith Urban does too, in his own way. But finding out she had a twitter war with Devin, puts her back in the ‘I’m not sure if I like you” category. I also really hate when artists have a rabid fan base. I know it’s not their fault, but some people encourage their fans bad behavior, so I think they deserve some of the blame for their fans’ behavior. Nicki seems like she encourages her fans to attack people who disagree with her. As entertaining as Nicki is on Idol, I hope she knows that having opinions is good, but being flat out rude to someone is no way for someone to behave. This is all speculation, because I don’t know what was actually said on twitter, or Nicki Minaji as a famous person or real (just want to clear that up, in case, some Nicki fan starts attacking me for this comment).

  11. Teri Petersen says:

    Nicki said she was quitting Idol if Curtis was voted off. She didn’t keep her word. She needs to go!

  12. Jane says:

    I would DIE for P!nk week. MAKE IT HAPPEN, NIGEL.

    • LeahKittyS says:

      I know! And make sure they do it in a season with a legitimate rocker chick. Think Allison Iraheta, who kicked hard ass on “So What,” and Erika Van Pelt, who did the most beautiful job with “Glitter in the Air,” on their respective seasons’ tours.

      • Trouty Mouth says:

        Yeah. As much as the show’s trying to convince us that Angie’s a rocker, I’m not falling for it.

        • HitTheGroundRunning says:

          They actually didn’t push it tonight. They flat out said that it was out of genre for all of them. It was still fun to see them try. (although not as fun as if they had one)

        • HitTheGroundRunning says:

          No Elise or Haley for sure. Or Allison or Chris, etc. (or going to the voice no Vicci or Amanda or Juliet)

  13. Zoey says:

    My respect for Devin just went up a bazillion percent.

  14. Jessica says:

    Devin you are so mature! I love you!

  15. Hmr says:

    Great interview! Devin seems very mature for his age. His voice is fantastic. I wish him all the best.

  16. LeahKittyS says:

    Everyone’s commenting on Devin’s maturity, and I agree, he is quite mature for his age. I think there’s a connection between that and the emotional disconnect people say got him voted off. Consider these two details from his life:
    1. He grew up without a father, meaning he probably became the “man of the house” at a very young age
    2. He went to military school and got discipline
    Do you suppose those two things taught him to fight back emotion and not let it show?

    • Timmah says:

      I think you’re onto something there. He has a very stoic demeanor which may be indicative of someone who had to take on a lot of responsibility at a young age.

      • My Alter Ego says:

        LeahKittyS, I do think that you may be on to something.
        **
        Timmah, perhaps he did have a great deal of responsibility at an early age (prior to military school), but I think it’s fairly safe to add that military school would have contributed to a stoic demeanor.
        **
        All that said, he is very mature, articulate and intelligent. He was voted off far too early. I wish him well.

    • Johnny says:

      That sounds about right. However, they can all make excuses for being lackluster. Specially this season where it seems to be more about a backstory or sob story if u will.

  17. Cray says:

    This is the first elimination interview this season where I came out loving the contestant even more after watching it. Hopefully Devin will, at least, be in a place where he’s paying the bills with his music.

  18. Kim R says:

    Very enjoyable. He’s got a great voice. Should not have been voted off, of course. :)

  19. Jacob P. says:

    He lost to Lazaro? >.>

  20. This makes me like him even more. Seriously wish he wasn’t unjustly voted off.

  21. MB says:

    I really liked this interview and it made me like Devin even more. I cannot get over how well he speaks and his maturity level for a guy his age. I am hoping we have not heard the last of this kid. His confidence in who he is and in his talent may be a guiding force to his success. The best interview so far this year and maybe the best in a very long time.

  22. Natalie says:

    I liked Devin when he said he was not going for 1st, he didn’t resent it being “a girls season to win”. It was amusing to hear his take on the twitter deal and I had a bit of excitement he knew the Adam lambert cover of Tracks of my tears. I think he was very calm when it came to Lazaro’s performance, and I admired that.

  23. Tahoe Mike says:

    I wish Michael had asked what’s up with trying to look so much like Tin-tin? Three months from now that is all I will remember about him.

    • LeahKittyS says:

      I don’t think he was trying; I think it’s just natural. But as I’ve said before, I love how these guys all fit archetypes from sitcoms and cartoons past. We had Fat Albert, Urkel, Tintin, and a dark-haired equivalent of Fred from “Scooby-Doo.” (I’m still not sure who Lazaro would be…anyone know of any sitcom/characters who were known for bow ties and suspenders?)

      • LeahKittyS says:

        Oops…that’s supposed to be “sitcom/cartoon characters.”

      • Johnny says:

        Fonzie!? When Nicki said that I was like HECK YEAH! But that’s only with the look he had for the night (which I thought was cool actually). But the suspenders bow tie look? hmm Maybe Pee Wee Herman?

  24. Johnny says:

    I’m so tired of all these celebs and such throwing “shade”. Just say what’s on your minds already and just name them already since we all know who you are talking about, right? ugh..Anyhoo. Funny observations after each elimination:
    1. Somebody always FINALLY decides to say the person was in their top 3 or person to beat.
    2. All of a sudden the majority of the comments turn in favor of the person.
    3. So many people claim to like the person more and wish they had stayed after seeing exit interviews LOL.

  25. Johnny says:

    Oh and another funny thing I love seeing on here particularly. I love seeing how Slezak comes down on a lot of the contestants on the blog, makes horrid song suggestions for pretty much ALL of them, and then when they get booted he interviews them as if he’s their best friend LMFAO. LOVE IT!! :P

    • Mafs95 says:

      That’s called professionalism. And Slezak doesn’t make horrid song suggestions, he actually tries to think about songs that are not “cliché” or that have not been done 25 times in just 12 seasons of this show.
      .
      But as I was saying firstly, Slezak shows how professional he is in his interviews. Even if he doesn’t like a contestant (which wasn’t the case with Devin, he just thought he didn’t connect that much with the lyrics he was singing), he respects them so much and tries to make them comfortable.
      .
      I remember he couldn’t stand Danny Gokey and the fact he was just shoving down our throats his sob story (I hated that, too) but when it came down to his interview, he didn’t show any signs of disliking Danny and he even tried to understand his point of view and how did things really happen.
      .
      I don’t know how you really feel, but it did feel like you were being ironic by saing you “love” when Slezak acts as if he is their best friend. And I personally interpreted that irony as somehow calling him fake or cynical. Please correct me if I’m wrong and sorry for the long reply. Have a nice evening ;)

      • Johnny says:

        I do seriously see him as professional. To each his own though with the song selections but I stand by my belief that they are horrid in my opinion. I haven’t seen one yet I have agreed with but I think I’m much much younger than most posters in here so I tend to just not know most of the songs he suggests and I think these young singers are less likely so sing the lesser popular songs. What person in his line of work isn’t cynical or hiding some of their true emotion & opinion when they interview someone?

        • JASon says:

          I agree. Slezak has the worst taste in music! And he does come off as a kiss ass! I don’t know how he can face these people he rips apart week after week. Got to give him props on courage!Some call it professional others call it Two faced with a dash of cowardice thrown in!

          • WL says:

            If you think Slezak is so awful, why are you hanging out here, reading his commentary? So you can feel so superior?

          • MamaLis says:

            Seriously, I beg your pardon? I’ve never known Slezak to “rip apart” anyone in his column! His JOB is to provide honest, insightful, thought-provoking, timely, relevant commentary – with a large dose of comic relief! If you pay attention, in almost all instances he reacts to performances, not people, (i.e. “Her notes were as flat as wine past its sell-date.” NOT “Clearly bi*ch lost her mind tonight because because her song stank up the room as much as she does!” – which is why it’s not a problem for him to welcome these same people into the studio and NOT be “two-faced” in the process! And on the rare occasion he might not care for someone – he still would provide them the same opportunity as everyone else, to speak and share their story.
            And btw – that’s professionalism AND integrity.

        • WL says:

          Wait. You said you don’t know most of the songs Slezak suggests. So how do you know they are “horrid”?

  26. Love Devin – he seems to be getting more praise now than when he was on the show. I look forward to buying his music.

    • LeahKittyS says:

      You can. Go to iTunes, type in his name and all the songs he did on the show are there to buy. If you preferred his semifinal stuff, you can get them off YouTube through a converter website.

  27. Nat says:

    It was so good to hear him being honest about the trio performance – I rewatched that and realized he totally carried that, I think he sang more than two-thirds of it. Not fair that he got the same blame as the others.
    Interesting to hear the comments about song clearance on Beatles week – my money on additional songs cleared would be Amber (She’s Leaving Home) and Janelle’s (I Will) choices I’m sure were ‘recommended’ by higher-ups and they were the only ones not done on the show before. Although I seem to remember a Beatles medley done by Idol winners in one of the finales/Idol Gives Back episodes when Carrie sang She’s Leaving Home.

  28. Adam Fachry says:

    My favorite interview so far. He looks so charming when he doesn’t sing. The little sarcastic shade he threw at the end of it, got me al “werrrk, girlfriend!”

  29. Yo says:

    Justin Bieber week? Ew. Pink? Yeah!

  30. Mafs95 says:

    I really liked this interview. I feel like sometimes Idol doesn’t let us know the real personality of some contestants. Devin seemed boring to some people and way too serious, but we can actually see in this interview that he’s actually funny and quite well spoken and down to Earth. I wish him the best, he was my favourite guy this season!

  31. Yo says:

    What a precocious kid. I won’t worry about him; he will do fine. He has success written on his future, whatever it is. A Latin Perry Como? It could happen. I thought Devin connected with his songs far better in Spanish than in English – or the songs resonated better. His mojo ended when he stopped the alternative language.

  32. Amadeu says:

    LOVED this interview! Devin was my favorite guy (with burnell), I hated Curtis. I didn’t know about the Devin/Nicky, but Minaj just makes me crasy. Since that “i’m leaving the show, if curtis leave!” Just shut up. Devin deserves way better. I hope he only grows from here.

  33. Aria says:

    While Curtis and Paul didn’t come off any better in their exit interviews, Devin definitely did. He seems more down-to-earth than the other two, and he was my favorite male in the Top 10.

  34. Luke says:

    For someone who seemed so mature, the Justin Bieber theme suggestion from Devin was weird. I was waiting for him to say, “Just kidding”. Slezak’s nodding was funny at that moment – then he was able to say, “Pink!! Yes!” It’s so depressing that Justin Bieber is getting that kind of respect from Devin’s age group.

    • Shana says:

      surprisingly JB and Devin are the same age. I don’t know if that had anything to do with his suggestion?

  35. dj says:

    I like Devin, and I hope he’s right about having a career. It seems like so many people just fade away after making the finals.

  36. Sarah says:

    I’m very impressed with this interview! You will go big Devin!

  37. Real Talent says:

    This show is still on? I thought it was cancelled years ago. Does it still have the fat guy who says Dog all the time.
    I imagine this kid will be the star of a karaoke bar in the near future. If you cannot win on the washed up version of American Idol, what future do you have?

    • Nina Nais says:

      “Not being able to win” American Idol is not indicative of anything other than that you were not the first choice of the types of fans (usually teenage girls) willing to log in hours of voting time. Many many talented people never even make it to top 10 / 12, much less to win. And on many occasions the winner has been less talented than many of the contestants that we got to see (and surely some of those we didn’t). It’s not like the show is some kind of objective talent contest. Surely you know that. That said, I wouldn’t buy Devin’s music.

  38. Alan Dvorkis says:

    Devin spoke with candor and intelligence. He also is totally himself. He may have finished 8th on idol, but in life, he is for sure a winner.

  39. sahsouha1 says:

    I really like that boy, he is so mature for his age & his voice is beautiful & I think he will do great!

  40. Ange says:

    Devin basically confirmed what I’ve been thinking for weeks now, this group was happy just to make the Top 10 Idol Tour. I realize he was only speaking for himself, but this is the vibe I’ve gotten from the contestants this year so it was affirming to hear it said out loud by an actual contestant. $100,000+ is a lot of money for these kids at their age, it’s like winning a lottery so I’m not really surprised to hear that this was the goal. It could also support why we’ve seen some of the greater creativity come from some of the older contestants. They’d experienced the real world and realized that Idol Tour type of money wouldn’t take you as far as you think if you really want to concentrate on music and not have to worry about getting a job to support yourself, therefore, they really wanted the BIG prize!

  41. lenna says:

    i love him. he is bright and smart, i wish he had better guidance fashion and song choices wise cuz he is talented and actually has some spunk.

  42. tewence says:

    i wonder if he’s a scorpio…he reminds me a lot of myself.

  43. Shana says:

    he had me at “I see tress of green” amazing voice and so much maturity, maybe too much for what people typically expect with the teen contestants. Nevertheless, I appreciate his candor, wit, sense of humor and the fact that he doesn’t sugarcoat anything. He was the only hope for the guys.
    Minaj needs to get off the show. I recall Paul saying she didn’t even say goodbye to him. A vile self-important B is what she is. her sheep better stop harassing Devin too. What a pathetic excuse for a 30 year old…

    • Aly says:

      She is so immature indeed. Pathetic is the exact word I would use. Remember the Grammys performance? That says it all. She thinks WAY too highly of herself for the talent she actually has.

  44. Jessica says:

    Just seeing this and I loved it! One of the best interviews in a while! Devin was definitely awesome here and it sucks the lists weren’t long enough to give him better song choices.

  45. darcy's evil twin says:

    wow, finally got around to watching this interview. Devin has boatloads of personality! Thanks, Mr. Slezak for treating us to these interviews so we can get to know these kids.

  46. jordan says:

    Seriously Nicki Minaj i actually ONIKA MARAJ and i WISH SHE WOULD STOP PLAYING WITH HER HAIR SHE ALWAYS TOUCHES HER WIGS!!!!!!! PLUS HER NOSE JOB IS BAD AND HER HORSE SMILE NOT PRETTY ONIKA NICKI IS FAKE AND UGLY !!!!
    MISS ONIKA MARAJ HAS NO IDIOL TALENT JUST A LOUD BLACK PLASTIC GIRL MARAH IS ALL WOMAN

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