'American Idol' Finalist Colton Dixon Releases New Song, Looks Back on Summer Tour and Ahead to Season 12 (Q&A)
The season 11 favorite, whose latest single "You Are" hit iTunes on Oct. 30, weighs in on the reported Nicki Minaj-Mariah Carey feud, telling THR, "I think what’s going on is pretty legit."
American Idol's Colton Dixon didn't pick the greatest week to release his new single, “You Are,” on iTunes. But even in the midst of Hurricane Sandy, one of the worst storms to hit the Northeast in years, the season 11 finalist took the time to speak to The Hollywood Reporter’s Idol Worship. Our chat happened minutes before the 80 mph winds killed almost all power in New Jersey (yours truly's home state) and the superstorm began its destructive path.
“I’ve already been praying,” said Dixon at 6 p.m. Monday night. “It's insane -- I saw the picture of the storm coming over the Statue of Liberty, and while it looked absolutely beautiful, I thought, 'Holy cow, they must be scared out of their minds!'”
Dixon's new song was originally slated for release next month, but perhaps the choice to put it out this week will allow listeners a certain comfort in its beautiful lyrics. Sample verses: “You are the light that’s in the dark … And when my circumstance leaves me with empty hands / You are the provider of my needs / When all my dirtiness has left me helpless / You are the rain that washes me.”
“I am glad it got bumped up,” said Dixon. “I’ve been listening to it nonstop since I got the mix back, so I’m stoked for everybody to hear it.”
Dixon has certainly been a busy guy since his elimination. On this past summer's American Idol tour, he was the only finalist besides winner Phillip Phillips allowed to perform an original song, “Never Gone,” during his scheduled set time. Additionally, Dixon is one of only three season 11 alums to land a record deal. The 21-year-old Murfreesboro, Tennessee native announced his signing to the EMI Christian Music Group's Sparrow Records last month.
“I had one meeting with them and I was sold on them as people," he said of the label whose roster includes other well-known artists in the Christian music world, including Toby Mac, and Chris Tomlin, and Idol season five alum Mandisa. "We have the same mission in mind."
In an interview with THR, Dixon explains that mission, shares his favorite memories from the summer and thoughts on the upcoming season of Idol -- including whether his sister, Schyler Dixon, got through to Hollywood? Read on to find out...
The Hollywood Reporter: Congratulations on your record deal with Sparrow! How did that come about?
Colton Dixon: I didn’t know what I should or shouldn’t do coming off of the show. I told 19 Management that my interest has always been Christian Music, and then we started playing the field a little bit. They set up a meeting with EMI which is, CMG Sparrow Records, where I got signed.
Idol Worship: Fellow Idol alum Mandisa is also on the label, have you met her yet?
Dixon: I met her before season 11 of Idol. She was in Nashville with Melinda Doolittle and I saw both of them and just said hello. She had no idea who I was, which is all good, but I’m excited to talk to her and see how the journey has been for her. I know she’s doing well now, and she has a couple of singles on the radio. It’s been a lot of fun. I have really enjoyed getting to know the EMI team. I’ve been out on a radio tour for a half month and getting to know the radio people from the label. They have all been really great.
Idol Worship: What can you tell us about your full-length album?
Dixon: It will be out either in late January or the first week in February. There are a few rock songs on there, but there is also that softer side, like “You Are” or “Never Gone,” that hits hard but it’s a slower tempo and has some tender moments. I think it’s going to be a good variety of music for whoever wants to listen. It’s not targeted towards one audience. I know I have my favorites, but I am definitely a rocker at heart. It’s a fun album. I can’t wait to finish recording it in a couple of weeks. I am laying down vocals on it and finishing up a couple of tracks then we’ll be set to go.
Idol Worship: It seems like you have been set to go since May!
Dixon: That’s what it’s felt like. I’ve been writing non-stop since I was eliminated. I remember when I first had enough material for an album, and I thought there was no way I could get rid of any of those songs, and then you keep on writing and you find something better. It’s a neverending process. We finally capped off the writing for this album, so we know the songs that are going on it.
Idol Worship: You had some great collaborators on this record...
Dixon: I wrote with a ton of people. Busbee (Kelly Clarkson, Daughtry, Pink, Adam Lambert, Jason Aldean) helped me with “You Are.” I also wrote with Jason Wade of Lifehouse. There were a couple of Lifehouse members in the studio when we were cranking out the demo, and some great songs came from that. I wrote with David Hodges from Evanescence, and a ton of different writers from Nashville, both in the Christian music scene and others. It will definitely be a different sounding record for Christian music, I know that. But that gets me excited at the same time.
Idol Worship: After your elimination, you mentioned wanting to perform in some churches during the tour. Is that still the plan?
Dixon: There are several songs that could be considered worship songs on this record, so yes, I’ll be hitting some churches on the tour we have coming up. It will be fun.
Idol Worship: You had great real estate on the Idol tour, not only performing "Never Gone," but selling Colton Dixon T-shirts. How did that feel?
Dixon: That blew my mind. I didn’t start off with shirts, actually. That happened a quarter of the way into the tour. I was walking around and I saw one and thought, "What in the world is going on?" It was so much fun. I just enjoy what I do. All the Idols were excited to come out and perform, and it was great to see the crowd be just as excited as I was to play a couple of songs that I love and even an original. I had a blast on the tour and I can’t wait to play more shows.
Dixon: The guys and I had some fun times on the tour bus. One night we stayed up and watched scary movies on our way to the next venue. That was a blast. I had never seen the original Exorcist, so we watched that, and man, it scared me to death. It was crazy, because it was made so long ago. We were acting like girls. However, I think my favorite memory was the very last show [when] for Phillip Phillips’ "Home," everyone came out and sang the background vocals with me and Deandre Brackensick. There was something about that moment that we didn’t even experience in the finale. We got together as a group supporting Phillip and just being excited for him and his original song. It was a cool moment.
Idol Worship: You all looked like you got along so well.
Dixon: We’re a big family. We still talk to each other. I just got a text from Jessica Sanchez about 30 minutes ago.
Idol Worship: Looking ahead to season 12, how do you feel about the new judges?
Dixon: I’m a little nervous, I’m not going to lie to you, but I’m excited because the chemistry is going to be interesting, especially between Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj. I honestly think what’s going on is pretty legit, which is cool because it makes it real TV, but at the same time it makes me really nervous. I also want to know what these judges have to say to the contestants. Because I know Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler played a huge part in our confidence and what we were comfortable doing on stage. If you heard Steven telling you to try something, it would make you want to do it. I just hope the contestants this year get that from the judges. I know they will from Randy. I love Keith Urban, and I am excited to see what he brings, too,
Idol Worship: It looks like we may have another Dixon this season! Can you comment?
Dixon: (Laughs) I cannot talk about that, but I’m just going to smile and nod on that one.