'American Idol': Dexter Roberts on the Judges' Advice, Being Friends with C.J. and Nashville
'American Idol': Dexter Roberts on the Judges' Advice, Being Friends with C.J. and Nashville
Jeff Dodge
Jeff Dodge
Staff Writer, BuddyTV
He was only in the Bottom 3 once before, but during Top 7 week on American Idol, Dexter Roberts managed to not only land in the Bottom 2 but also be eliminated from the competition.

Dexter talked with reporters, including BuddyTV, about his time on the show, advice from the judges and guest mentors, how he ended up auditioning and his plans for the future. Also, which of his competitors did he know before Idol? Read on to find out.


Being Confused by the Judges' Feedback

One of the things that the contestants have talked about in interviews is that the judge sometimes give conflicting advice. One example is that they might say one singer needs to take risks but tell another to stick to what they know. And Dexter felt confused at times over this.

"Sometimes I'm sitting [backstage] and I'm like, okay, I'm trying to figure [it] out," he said. "And I'd go back and I asked everybody backstage, what in the world are they talking about sometimes? But that's what each one of us contestants [would think]. ... Harry, he'd say something way out of the way and we were just like, what in the world are you talking about? He was talking in sign language."

And just because the judges told him that he needs to make the songs his own, sometimes that didn't always work out -- and not for lack of trying. "I wanted to try and make each song more my own, but sometimes the band, they didn't think that it would sound great," Dexter admitted. "And I was like, well, I'm trying, I'm trying. And [they were] just like, let's just play the record, and I'm like, okay. So I tried as much as I could, but hopefully when I get on tour I can have a little bit more say-so in it."

This is a really interesting comment by Dexter. It sounds like the band has a bigger say in the final arrangement of the songs than we think. But then you look back at former Idols like David Cook, Chris Daughtry and Adam Lambert, who all put their stamp on the songs they performed, and it makes you wonder if it has to do with how much the singers push hard to get their way or if some balk under pressure and go along with what the show wants to do.

Advice from Taylor Hicks and David Cook

But that's not to say the contestants received confusing advice all the time. They also had valuable help from some guests who just so happened to be former Idols themselves. Not only did Dexter have the chance to talk with Taylor Hicks ("He told me to just go in there and just have fun, just be yourself and kill it"), but he also was mentored by David Cook.

"[David was] one of the best mentors that we had on the show," he admitted, "because he really stepped out and helped. It was like getting a cheat sheet really because he had been in the situation and he knew what I was going through. And he was like, you're just going to have to get out there and speak to America. And I was like okay, sir. I'm ready to do it." Many Idol fans also noticed how involved and helpful David was as well, even going so far as to say he's a better mentor than Randy Jackson.

The Start and End of the Idol Journey

We've seen Dexter's journey on Idol during the last several months, but how did it all begin? What led him to audition for season 13? He said "It was a dream of mine" to be "famous one day," and he told his grandmother exactly that. He went on to say that whenever he's performed for friends or in bars or at weddings/parties, people have told him that he should audition for Idol. "I didn't think I was ever good enough," he said. "But one day, I was like, I'm just going to try out because I just wanted to see if it worked, which sure enough it did."

Unfortunately for him, he's not the next American Idol, though he did make it as far as seventh place. When asked where he thinks he went wrong this past week, he's not sure. "It's hard to say. I wish I knew why I ended up leaving, but I just don't know. It would sum up a lot of questions that I was asking about it." He doesn't have any hard feelings, though, and "had a great time on the show."

But if Dexter was still in the competition and competing in the Top 6, he already had his two songs picked out for this week's country/rock theme. On the rock side, he was planning on performing Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing." And for the country tune, he was torn between a Brantley Gilbert song and a Luke Bryan song. 

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Who Did Dexter Know Pre-Idol?

Every year, the contestants come from all different parts of the country, though we to tend to see a lot of singers from the South. And in the case of season 13, there were three from Alabama: Dexter, C.J. and Jessica.

Dexter already knew C.J. long before they were on Idol together. And coincidentally, they both auditioned in the same year. "What happened was we made it in Tuscaloosa at the bus tour ... and he was actually late to the auditions. And he had his old Johnson guitar and we stopped and talked for a while. And I told him, I had a feeling that you were going to be here."

During all this, the strings ended up breaking on C.J.'s guitar. So Dexter ended up helping out his friend. He told C.J., "Once I get through [the audition], you can borrow [my guitar], because I was in front of him in the line. So I made it through and I went over there and gave him the guitar. And I told [the American Idol staff], there's going to be a guy coming here in a minute and he's going to be carrying my guitar. And sure enough, he made it."

And that's not the only time that they've helped each other out with things. During the course of the season, they would give suggestions on how to improve their set. "If we hit a flat note, we'll be like, hey bud, try to do it this way or try to make your song do this."

The "Competitor's Pick" Theme

When American Idol announced that the theme for the Top 7 was "Competitor's Pick," some were wondering if there was going to be any sabotage going on or if they would all play nice. As we saw, it was definitely the latter. "It was really easy because we all know which kind of artist we want to be and we're so close with each other. And we didn't want to jeopardize each other and make them sing something way out of the box, so we helped each other out."

And here's another instance where the two friends were helpful to one another. "I sing ["Muckalee Creek Water"] all the time in the shower," Dexter said. "And I think C.J. was just really getting tired of me singing it all the time, and he just wanted me to sing it on national television to get it out of my system."

Looking to the Future: Nashville, Country Music and Writing Songs

As a country singer, it seems obvious that someone like Dexter would want to move to Nashville to pursue his career. And he revealed that that is his exact plan. For his album, he wants to take inspiration from Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Craig Morgan, Slash and Eric Church.

He's also a songwriter. "I do write my own stuff, and I write slow songs and I write [upbeat songs]. ... So I'm just going to have to figure out what best fits me. But I love singing every bit of [what I sang on Idol]." 
 

American Idol airs Wednesdays at 8pm and Thursdays at 9pm on FOX.

(Image courtesy of FOX)

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