American Idol Winner Trent Harmon on Surviving Mono, Pulling Faces, Going Country and Scaling 'Chandelier'

Trent Harmon has one regret about being the final winner of American Idol: He won’t get the opportunity to return to the show next season as a cool, conquering hero looked up to by a new crop of contestants.

On the flip side, though, the Mississippi farm boy says he’s able to look back with contentedness at one of his less successful performances — a cover of Sam Smith’s “Like I Can” that failed to impress his family members. “I knew as soon as I sang the last note, I didn’t do as well as I could have,” he tells TVLine over the course of a wide-ranging, three-part video interview about his time on the Fox reality competition. That disappointment, however, “fired me up,” Trent adds, setting the stage for his late-season surge.

Trent also takes a deep dive into the reasoning behind some of his lesser-known song choices (“Unaware” and “What Are You Listening To”), the valuable lesson he learned during rehearsal for a duet with Season 6 champ Jordin Sparks, the approach he took to working with Idol‘s wardrobe department and the work he did in the wake of his unsuccessful audition for The Voice last year.

Also on the docket: Trent’s Hollywood Week bout with mono; mentor (and new boss) Scott Borchetta’s comments about his penchant for making faces while singing; his emotional reinvention of Sia’s “Chandelier”; and the country direction of his upcoming debut album.

Press PLAY above for Part 1 — and below for Parts 2 and 3 — then hit the comments with your thoughts on Trent’s win and his post-Idol future.

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. Faye says:

    I really hope there will be an interview with Dalton.

    I have come to like Trent much more than I even expected.

  2. Kate says:

    Ever since reading La’Porsha’s comments about the LGBT “lifestyle,” I’m even more glad Trent won. He seems like a heck of a lovely guy in addition to being crazy talented.

    • Jay says:

      Just what in the…if I ask you to convert your religion right now, can you do that? We can live together and be friends despite having different faith, lifestyle and political view, can’t we?

      • Kate says:

        I’m not sure if you’re trying to defend being homophobic, but no, I can’t and won’t be friends with someone who believes being LGBT is wrong or a choice. And that’s coming from a straight cis person. I’m SO tired of people hiding behind religion to defend their bigoted and ignorant opinions.

        • Nick says:

          La’Porsha comes from a small town in Mississippi, cut her some slack. Nothing she said was hateful toward LGBT, she’s probably just uneducated on the subject.

        • Jay says:

          I am a huge fan of Joey Graceffa, Twaimz, RuPaul, Lady Gaga, etc. I don’t see how I’m hating or fearing the homosexuals. You said ‘being LGBT’, if you watch the interview again you’ll know that she disagrees with ‘the practice of LGBT lifestyle’ but she treats LGBT people with respect. Ignorant huh? She wasn’t even involved or agreeing with the anti-LGBT stuffs, she was just answering a question. Trent was being very reserved when asked the same question because he didn’t want to hurt anyone but that doesn’t mean he differs from La’Porsha.
          Forcing someone to accept LGBT relationship and lifestyle is just like forcing someone to change his/her religion which is a wrong thing to do.

          • NotVirgin Mary says:

            The real objection to your views should be how you can find Joey Graceffa entertaining (let alone tolerable). I would rather listen to Country for the rest of my life than watch a single video of his.

        • Deb says:

          And I’m getting tired of people who think the way you do. I really don’t care if someone is a different color than I am. I really don’t care if you stand with the LBGT’s or not. That would be you. You have no idea what I am. Do you? I might just shock the he!! Out of you. But here’s what am getting sick about. If we the LBGT’s always feel if someone says, they weren’t brought up in our way of life. Well ok! It’s doesn’t mean they don’t know or like us. We as LBGT’s are born this way. So what. I don’t hate anyone who’s not. I really have a hard time when just because someone says, any thing other than, oh yes! I feel LBGT should get, or have it their way. etc. now Bruce Springfield and Brian Adams cancelled concert because of a bill. Guess what. You think it’s to punish them? My heart hurts, yes really hurt, why cause that act only hurt us

        • Guest says:

          Hiding behind religion? Can’t someone legitimately not agree with it because it’s against their religion?

        • Candy Smith says:

          Oh my Gosh!! You need to get over that! She apologized and said that she even has lots of friends that are gay and they are the sweetest people sh knpows!! She was caught off guard by the question!!

      • Emily says:

        What does converting religion have to do with literally anything? People of all or no religions can prejudiced or not, no conversion required.

    • Tina says:

      What. …I don’t hate the lbgteieio, actually some if my favorite people practice that lifestyle but, I don’t condone it and if they felt straight I would like it better for them, but I love them anyway. ..they’re not mad at me for being straight and i’ my not mad at them for being lbgteieio and I think LaPorsha feels the same. Don’t take a joke too far!

  3. Kate says:

    Please tell me you’re going to post this on your YouTube channel – not there as yet. I can never get these to load completely due to rural internet speed.

  4. When Trent came out and said he had mono and still sang without anyone with him, he did a terrific job. His voice is like no other. I picked him as the winner that night! His quirky moves make him so unique. I was worried at the end that they would steal it from him, but America voted right!

  5. Shaun says:

    The microphone isn’t working very well,had to crank my speakers high just to hear you both.

  6. Tom Kores says:

    Have enjoyed seeing Trent every week will miss him. But looking forward to going to a concert of his.Trent can not wait for your CD. Wishing you the best
    Tom Kores

  7. Emily says:

    Trent is just such a lovely, smart, humble, person. I didn’t really fall in love with him until around the time he moved into the top 8, but it was amazing to watch him get better and better, and to see his personality reveal itself more and more. His voice is incredible, but that essence of himself that comes through is what makes him so special. I don’t listen to country, in fact, I’m firmly anti-country (especially more modern pop-country) but I’m eager to buy whatever Trent puts out there.

  8. Well done both of you on the interview. This totally satisfied me “need” for information. I think I’m still going through withdrawal.

    I was one of the big fans of the less familiar songs. I bought two of Parson James’s. I’m obsessed with “Waiting Game.” I hope Trent’s album has some songs that allow him to really have those emotional arcs like in that song and “Chandelier.”

  9. Thank you for the interview and for detailedly (is that a word?) going through each song with Trent. However, I had my volume on full blast, even tried headphones, and I still couldn’t hear everything. Please fix if possible!

  10. Esther says:

    What a sweet doll. Loved this interview.

  11. Kelly Blue says:

    I didnt think Trent was going to win because he seemed awkward. But he improved every week and blew the competition out of the water after Chandelier.

  12. Trent you could make album of your last 6 songs on American Idol it would be great.

  13. Emily says:

    He comes off as surprisingly charming and adorable here!

  14. Lisa G says:

    Count me among those who are hoping a louder sound mix gets uploaded. I have my speakers as loud as they get and I can’t hear most of what Trent is saying. :(

  15. poisnivy says:

    Great interview with Trent! I just love him, I’m one of those fans that he pulled in along the way. I started out all about Mackenzie because I loved him on the Voice, but somewhere Between top 10-8 week, he just won me over and I’ve loved him more and more every week. It really was great to see him get better, he’s so unique I found myself dying to see what he was going to do next! I don’t know how I’m going to wait for that album, but I know it’s going to be great. I love country music and I love a soulful voice, so country soul makes me SO excited!

  16. caminogen says:

    Loved this interview. What a smart and lucid guy. So happy he won

  17. rita says:

    will trent’s “chandlier” be available to purchase on itunes?

    • jacquie says:

      trent, please have your version of chandelier on a cd, some of us dont have access to itunes, etc, regarding your being directed towards country music to start, please dont limit yourself to it —-you can sing balads, all those songs that are so pretty melody, and you can give them your trent magic, like you did chandelier, you have such genuine feeling with EVERYTHING you sing, you are going to be a great performer, cant wait for your music to be available in the stores, i want chandelier asap

  18. karenb says:

    Slezak thank you for doing these interviews! Always love them! So in-depth! Perfect for us obsessed Idoloonies!

  19. Sid Neeto says:

    Best interview ever.

  20. Jess says:

    I really enjoyed this interview. Trent comes off so professional, humble, and I also can honestly believe what he says. I love the work ethic. I posted a comment here a few weeks ago (at the time wanted La’Porsha or Trent to win) and said I really wish Trent all the best success but no matter what he does, he will be successful. He is a joy. I am so happy he won and as he goes forth I will definitely be looking out for his music. I’ll also say as a mom I want to sit with his parents and take notes to help me out even more lol.

    Michael, I am really hoping you are going to do or did a recap with Melinda.

  21. marie says:

    Gosh, I love this guy. What a genuinely good-hearted, levelheaded, humble-yet-confident, all-around decent person, and yes, also a fantastic musician and singer. Thanks so much for the interview, Michael; it just cemented my admiration and appreciation for Trent and his artistry all the more.
    Elsewhere, I have vehemently denounced Scott Borchetta’s decision to produce a country album with Trent. I don’t love country music and I still don’t think it’s Trent’s strong point – that would indeed be soul / R&B, and also, cabaret / theatrical music, as evidenced by “Chandelier” – but you know what? I’m going to buy the album and I’d bet good money I’ll enjoy it. I’m looking forward to it!
    I’m sure I’ll have more to write after I watch the interview again, at home – I’m at work – where hopefully I can hear better. Thanks again for this, Michael, and the very best to Trent, who I’m sure has to have a very successful career ahead of him.

  22. marie says:

    Now that I think of it, another Borchetta protegee, Taylor Swift, made the transition to another genre of music after getting a quick start in country. I suppose Trent could do the same. It is true that it seems a good deal easier to establish a career in country than in other genres; I (grudgingly) admit Borchetta (and Trent) could be on to something here. I don’t imagine Trent could completely turn his back on other genres; they seem too much an inborn part of him, and his tastes in music seem broad.
    I for one will listen to whatever he releases.

  23. Thank you, Michael and Trent for a great interview. I’m excited to continue following and supporting Trent and his music career, he is such a nice guy, and that is really important to me.
    I’m also hoping Big Machine does right by him. I’ve been a Reba fan for years and years, so it excites me thinking about what may come for Trent. She too, had to, and still has to, fight hard to maintain the level of respect she does in the genre.
    I knew from his audition, that his was the voice for me, so I instantly started looking for his socials, found his IG and found out, he is also a really nice guy. Long gone are the days of me supporting anyone, without being sure, I like the person behind the voice.
    It takes a lot of hard work from both the artist and their fans, to succeed in country music today. I’m willing to help put in the work for Trent.

  24. vicki says:

    love you Trent knew you would take it. Fell in love with you and that voice right from day one. Hope all goes well for you and make lots of CD’S .

  25. Vicki Fraser says:

    love you Trent knew you would take it. Fell in love with you and that voice right from day one. Hope all goes well for you and make lots of CD’S .

  26. Bobby C. says:

    Great interview with Trent! I missed the last few seasons of Idol– my favorite contestants were runner-up Jessica Sanchez and 3rd place finisher, Elliott Yamin– but tuned in this season since I knew this was the final season and Kelly Clarkson was a guest judge. Voted for Trent in the end and looking forward to his CD. Bought his single on iTunes and was hoping he’d release his version of Chandelier on iTunes as well. Prince is my all-time favorite artist and he can do falsetto so well, that’s what I loved about Trent’s voice. Stay humble Trent! Best wishes to you and looking forward to your album!

  27. MamaLis says:

    Great interview, except I can’t HEAR!!! Love you both anyway!! Yea Trent. I voted for you!

  28. marie says:

    Trent’s singing just makes me happy. He had me from “Every day, the deficit grows… “. Quite literally.

  29. Hard to comment when the audio needed a boost to hear anything. Wish y’all would fix that and let us know when so I can try again to listen to all three parts. Really wanted to hear what Trent had to say, disappointed in the audio failure.

  30. Doug H. says:

    What a charming, articulate guy! Very impressed.

  31. Nadine says:

    Thank you America for picking a true Idol! He is special in every way!

  32. drea says:

    Whatever happened to the final Reality Check??!

  33. JoMarch says:

    I’m disappointed his album is going to be country since I’m not a country fan, although I have a double album of Garth Brooks. Trent can sing all genres of music, and I was hoping for something more pop. I guess I’ll just wait and see what it will be.

  34. Meme says:

    I love that the 1st American Idol was a waitress and the last one was a waiter … and how great they both are!

  35. jacquie says:

    i hope trent makes a cd with his version of chandelier, he sings it amazingly, i could listen to it all day long, he has a beautiful voice, and i believe he can sing anything, and it will have trent uniqueness in each and every song he sings, his voice has such range, very talented young man, i think his cows are going to miss him, i know i would :)