'American Idol' Behind the Scenes: 6 Things Fans Didn't See From Wednesday's Episode
An unbroken circle, bonus Boy George and why purple almost reigned during ’80s week.
A double elimination, a medley of '80s songs by the star of an '80s TV series and the return of Boy George and Salt-N-Pepa to prime time TV were the things we did see on American Idol Wednesday night. Now, thanks to Billboard's fourth row seat, let's review the things you didn't see while you were watching at home.
WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN: The studio audience got to see something that usually only takes place backstage -- but the top 11 ran out of time Wednesday, so their "prayer circle" took place in full view of everyone in the studio. Seated in the on-camera lounge before the red lights on their chairs were turned on, the contestants quickly formed what looked like a huddle. Asked later to explain what happens in the circle, Jax described the private moment as part preparation and part prayer. "We breathe in all the positive energy and exhale all the negative energy," added Rayvon Owen. "It's important to honor God or whoever you believe in. He's given us these gifts and we have to thank Him before we go in front of America. I think it's important to get into the right head space before you do that."
SINGING TO-KNIGHT: Knight Rider star David Hasselhoff -- who has had a successful recording career in Germany -- was the surprise guest star who handed Ryan Seacrest the results envelope at the top of the show. Then the Hoff performed a quick medley of '80s favorites like Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" and Katrina & the Waves' "Walking on Sunshine." But what you didn't see is that the actor then took a seat in the audience with his girlfriend and his daughter and stayed for the entire two hours, only departing the studio once on a commercial break, presumably to make a pit stop.
RED GREEN: By now, season 14 viewers are accustomed to the specially-rigged chairs the contestants sit on in the lounge when they're not performing on stage. All of the seats are outfitted with red lights and when it's time to reveal the next contestant who is safe, the lights change to green, accompanied by a sound effect. Sitting in the audience, it's easy to see which chairs are lit in red and which in green. But how is the view when you're sitting in one of those chairs? The question came up Wednesday night when the lights on Quentin Alexander's chair turned green and it was clear by the look on his face that he didn't realize he was greenlit into the top nine. "I couldn't see my chair," Alexander told Billboard. "His jacket was covering it up," explained Joey Cook. "I didn't know until Joey hit me," Alexander elaborated. "I heard the noise and I was looking around to see who it was and Joey is punching me." "It's a battle between looking at everyone else's chairs or your own," said Cook.
PURPLE REIGNS: Tyanna Jones' hair was a bright shade of aquamarine Wednesday night, which is surprising since the night before, she died her hair purple. "Apparently it didn't work out," she told Billboard. "It fused together and made this color that's in my head right now." Jones teased that she is going to strip the blue-green out of her hair and try a new color, which she is keeping secret for now.
HAT TRICK: When Billboard suggested to Daniel Seavey that the hat he wore Wednesday night was reminiscent of one of Boy George's looks back in the day, the 15-year-old contestant explained why he was sporting the chapeau. "I was getting ready this morning and my hair was messed up, so I took Rayvon's hat. The stylists really liked it so they went out and got one in my size. Rayvon said no, I should wear his hat, but it didn't fit."
MEMBER OF THE CULTURE CLUB: Most weeks, the guest mentor does their work in advance and isn't present in the studio during the live broadcast. Boy George was a notable exception, hanging out backstage for a couple of hours and then staying after the show to talk to folks, starting with Billboard. Asked what it was like working with a group of singers where none of them were alive when "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" became Culture Club's first hit, George replied, "I'd say, 'You need to listen to Sly Stone' and they'd say, 'Who's that?' That's shocking to me because when I was their age and younger, I was listening to Bessie Smith and Dinah Washington and artists from the '30s and '40s. Now we have this great tool called the Internet. Go home and Google! What was interesting for me was how some of them listened and improved their performance because of what Scott and I said to them. It was a real pleasure to stand in the room with them and listen to them sing." When asked what he thought of Joey Cook, who obviously had a special affinity for him, George responded, "I told Joey she's like the girls I used to hang out with in school. She embodies the new romantic spirit of the '80s. She's very individual. I really liked her."