Let’s get the gossipy bits out of the way first. Casey Abrams and Haley Reinhart are not dating. Casey and Haley have never dated.
When the 20-year-old from Idyllwild, Calif., looked into Haley’s eyes Thursday night as he sang his farewell song on American Idol, he was “saying goodbye to my very special musical friend. That’s all it was,” Casey told the media on Friday.
Here’s another hot tip for you: Steven Tyler is a better kisser than Jennifer Lopez. Well, kind of.
“JLo just let me kiss her. Steven Tyler actually kissed me back. It’s a different story,” Casey said, referring to his wild post-elimination performance when he doled out hugs and cheek kisses to judges and audience members.
And lastly, the beard is there to stay. “I feel like if I shave it, I just don’t have a chin anymore.”
As far as the competition goes, Casey said top six was about as far as he’d expected to go.
“I felt really good even afterward. Maybe I’ll break down crying some other time, but right now I feel really good about what happened last night and what’s happening today.”
His main concern had been to last long enough to justify the judges’ save, which they used to rescue him from elimination in the top 11.
“This would be really embarrassing if I just got cut the first week (after the save),” Casey said.
Now, Casey’s mission is to bring the kind of songs he sang on Idol, stuff like “Nature Boy,” to the masses.
His first album will likely be a combination of rock and jazz, he said. And his first concert would have “more instruments than you’d expect, some trombones, some dulcimers, some random stuff.”
Besides the upright bass, piano and melodica, Casey also plays cello, drums, accordion, clarinet and sitar. Yes, sitar. And judge Randy Jackson has promised to teach him how to slap the bass, he said.
Casey got his jazz grounding at Idyllwild Arts Academy, which is where he first heard of Canadian jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, whom he name-checked on Thursday night.
“I just feel that I’ve done something pretty cool in this competition, but the thing is so has everyone else from the top 13,” said Casey.
“Look at Paul (McDonald) bringing all this folky stuff and Jacob (Lusk) bringing all the gospel stuff … We’re all doing our part to make American Idol a little more different than the year before.”
Casey allowed that he put a little too much of his signature growl into his performance of “Hi De Ho” on Wednesday night.
“I was having more fun than paying attention to what was going on musically.”
He added, “It is kind of how I sing when I don’t think about it … It’s a grey area. It’s hard to define what’s a good growl and what’s a bad growl, you know?”
And he has no hard feelings against mentor Jimmy Iovine for his anti-growling quip about dogs not voting on Idol.
“Honestly it’s hilarious. It is good advice.”
Casey’s last word: “Just don’t take yourself too seriously. Take music seriously but not yourself.”
(The photo of Casey is by Frank Micelotta for Fox. Idol airs Wednesday at 8 p.m. on CTV and Thursday at 8 on A. I'll be recapping both episodes.)