'American Idol': Tim Urban visits 'Idolatry,' talks condescending critiques and that crazy 'Under My Thumb' cover

Tim-Urban-IdolatryThere’s more to Tim Urban than lustrous locks and a big, goofy grin. The American Idol season 9 finalist stopped by Idolatry yesterday to discuss the highs and lows of his seventh-place run. Among the topics we covered: Why he was happy that he “snuck in” to the semifinals after Chris Golightly’s last-minute DQ; what went wrong with his initial live performance (a cover of OneRepublic’s “Apologize”); and how Elvis Week turned out to be his shining moment on the show. Tim also dished on why he didn’t let tough critiques from Kara and Randy get him down, and what exactly he was trying to do with that reggae rendition of “Under My Thumb.” Press play below for the four-part interview, and to get all my Idol news and commentary, follow me on Twitter @EWMichaelSlezak. (Related: What should the top 6 sing for Shania Twain Week?) UPDATE: The earlier audio problems have been fixed! If you’re still having trouble in PopWatch, or if you’re on an iPhone/iPad, head over to our Idolatry hub for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.


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  • wanderlass

    i’m so happy tim is out of amidol!!! he can go audition for Glee.

    • Maureen

      I thought I was the only one who saw Tim being a future cast member on Glee! He’d do great I think! ;)

      • wooster182

        He actually can sing. He did a fabulous job on Ellen this week.

      • melissa

        I don’t think is was so much a question of whether he can sing. He can. It’s just that he’s very whitebread and rigid in his style of singing. I doubt if he can handle anything with a hard beat. His vocals just aren’t versatile enough to do a range of styles.

      • wooster182

        You don’t have to be rangy to sing on Glee. It’s a chorus. Plus, he has a lot better range outside of Idol. He had great control of his voice on Ellen and I saw stuff that seemed to prove that he can have that falsetto when he can hear himself, as he said in the video.

      • Diane

        I see Tim Urban on a Disney Channel show myself.

    • jared4ever

      Ummmm the kids on Glee can sing though.

      • t.t

        not Cory Monteith the guy can’t sing to save his life!

      • rachel

        Totally agree with t.t, if they can make Cory’s voice sound bearable in the studio, they can make Tim sound amazing. He would be a cute love interest for Quinn when the Puck thing dies out (soon)

      • Shirley

        I totally agree with Diane…I can see Tim Urban on the Disney Channel…but, overall..I have always looked forward to American Idol..but, this has been the most boring and worst talented singers ever. I do root for bowersox…Sorry, or not sorry, Siobhan totally hits my nerves and so does Michael Lynch’s personality…YIKES..honestly, can’t wait till the season is over and Bowersox takes a bow..

    • Miss Talk

      Turban on Glee? Pls forget it. He should go to the CW. But I gotta say Tim has one of the most positive behaviours I’ve ever seen! I’m pretty sure he’s the one who is gonna pull a Jennifer Hudson in this whole pack.

      • jared4ever

        you’re drunk. Go sleep it off.

      • zina

        totally agree. current singers are not really good and mostly have good looks, some charm, and a great pr machine behind them. that’s why all the mothers loved adam lambert– he has a great voice oldies singers used to have that we don’t hear anymore. in this climate of pop-culture i can definitely see tim doing well.

    • Quirky

      Forget Glee! Tim needs to replace Ryan as Idol host. I was so impressed with his charm and intelligence in this interview that I really think he could do it. Seacrest out. Tim in.

      • mike

        It takes a great deal more than sarcasm and being candid to be a good host/mc. I doubt it Tim could pull it off the way Seacrest does.

      • Ixarix

        I was thinking the same thing, though if Simon was smart, he’d get Tim to host X-factor. After hearing this interview, I realized just how smart and easy-going Tim is, he’s the kind of guy you kind of root for.

    • Amy

      Please people of the world, stop trying to put Tim Urban on Glee. It’s condescending and insulting to Glee to say that’s the best that Tim Urban deserves. You’d ruin my favorite show by putting that a$$-clown on there.

  • sbwm

    Nice interview. He seems pretty self aware.

    • Ktct

      @sbwm: Agreed, and add: articulate, cute and personable.

      • Mallerie

        I haven’t found Tim to be interesting at all this season until this interview. Wow. A completely different guy than I expected. He sure makes Andrew Garcia look like an “irrelevant” goofball.

        Great interview, Michael. Left me wanting to hear more.

      • DivaSoulSista

        After this interview, I actually LIKE him now. Great interview!

    • jw

      Impressive explanation of the choices he made and analysis of his situation. Too bad that wasn’t on view during his run on the show.

      • jon

        This happens all the time. They never get to explain themselves until they get on Idolatry. But then again, shouldn’t you let your performance speak for itself?

    • miras

      Hope I’ll never see or hear Tim Urban, one of the season 9 spoilers, shouldn’t have been top 24 to begin with. The judges failed so many talented kids.

      • SajiNoKami

        I hope Tim gets to put out an album. Without him on the show, I really would not have continued to watch or vote for that matter. Tim made the show interesting.

    • Dina

      Thanks for this interview, Michael. I always knew Tim was really smarter than the AI producers wanted us to think. I have watched Tim’s other exit interviews, and he always seems sincere, articulate and charming. But on the show, the producers wanted to portray him as a “himbo” who cared more about his hair than his singing. I think Tim could have a career as a TV host because he’s witty and very likeable (like how he handled the questions on David Letterman’s show). Or Tim can go the Disney route, since he’s marketable to teenage girls. :)

  • Jim

    Am I the only one not getting any sound?

    • Michael Slezak

      UPDATE: If you’re experiencing problems with audio on parts 2-4, please check back this afternoon. Technical issues affecting some browsers should be cleared up by that time. Sorry for the inconvenience!

      • Jim

        thanks for the info. Love the vids.

      • Monica242

        Thank you, Michael. Just an FYI, though, I’m not getting audio on part 1, either. I’ve tried on Firefox and IE, on both my home PC and my work laptop (neither are Macs). Just giving you some intel, if it can help. Thank you for looking into this problem, I love your Idolatry interviews!

      • Jason Averett

        Audio should be fixed in all parts now. If you’re still having problems, head to the Idolatry hub at the links we provide above.

  • SDTim

    I love that Sleazak does these interviews. This season more than ever these intereviews show a whole different side of the contestants. I wonder where all of this personality has been hiding during the actual AI shows?! Katie, Andrew and now Tim have shown so much more in these interviews than they EVER did on AI. Great job, Sleazak! You actually made me interested in people I’d totally written off.

    • steph

      no kidding, the show makes them all out to be giant snooze-fests, and is the reason I stopped watching. (That, and the hot Asian guy was voted off, LOL)

    • Suzanne

      these interviews ARE great. I love learning what the contestants were thinking with these song choices. (Kris Allen’s interview at the end of last season was an especially great interview.)

      • Idit

        Kris Allen’s one was indeed for the Idolatry hall of fame. But Tim’s is also really good, showing a self-awareness and witts that we haven’t seen on the show.

  • John

    After watching this I really like the guy. It’s too bad he was kicked off, he is one of the few contestants who recognizes his mistakes (Andrew) and thinks he could have made improvements. He has a good personality.

    • Shelly

      Yeah, he seems like a great guy, and seems to know what he’s doing more than some contestants.

    • Lisa

      Tim made some mistakes while he was on the show, but at least he’s self-aware. He tried to do more acoustic songs, which are in his wheelhouse. I have heard him sing acoustically on Ellen, Access Hollywood and the Wendy Williams Show, and he sounds great– much better than his performances on Idol. I think he was nervous when he was competing, but he sounds better now that the pressure is off. As long as he stays away from R&B songs, he’ll do fine! :P

  • Grady

    I’m very impressed. Well spoken, a great sense of humor, and clearly smart. Go Tim!

    • wino

      agree. very impressed by his self awareness and overall analysis of the show.

  • Andre

    Great interview Michael. There are a lot of behind-the-scenes things I wonder about that you covered. I’m still wondering if the contestants wear the ear monitors while performing or if they’re dependent on whatever they can hear on stage/house monitors. I know they’re not professional performers, but proper monitors are critical.

    • dave

      Monitors. Yeah. Almost makes me wonder if some contestants might get sabotaged by TPTB

    • Suzanne

      In season 7, david archuleta wore an ear monitor and the producers didn’t like the way they looked, so monitors aren’t allowed. David did ballads almost exclusively thereafter because he couldn’t hear otherwise.

      • Andre

        Awesome, so the look trumps the sounds.

        I sing pitch perfect when I can hear myself, but have had a few times where I couldn’t hear myself and good lord I sounded like a hump back whale mating with a rhinosaurus while under the influence of novocaine. Okay, maybe not that bad, but not on key and it hurt to hear myself on playback.

      • Lynne

        Season 8 contestants wore the ear monitors. Adam’s looked like spok ears during Top 3 “One” and Kris usually wore only one ear monitor and the other hung down the other side.

  • Monica242

    You’re not the only one, Jim. I’m not getting any sound, either.

  • Andrea

    A lot of respect for Tim after that interview. Smart guy.

    • Katja

      Definitely! You’d never know from the show that he was this articulate and thoughtful – they just portrayed him as the good-natured fool. This interview was great, and while I was already starting to root for him because of how he handled the judges being so awful to him, and because I did see improvement in his performances…this interview just amplified my respect for him a ton. And I actually really liked his explanation for what happened with “Under My Thumb” – I can see what he means by singing it with a smirk, and I appreciate that he realizes he totally didn’t perform it right. Best of luck to him!

      • @Katia

        It doesn’t matter how many times he explains hs bad performances, they are still bad performances. So honestly, does it really matter? It was a bad performance.

    • jon

      We don’t care how smart they are. We only care if they can give a good performance.

    • Lisa

      This was one of the best Idolatry interviews. Tim didn’t shy away from answering any tough questions. And thank you, Mr. Slezak, for not asking the cliche questions about his hair (lovely as it is). LOL
      I liked how Tim had the opportunity to explain his choices, even if the performances didn’t end up being very good. If Tim had tried to defend his choices after the judges’ critiques, the audience probably would have thought he was talking back to the judges anyway. I have to say that Tim seems to be one of the most media savvy of this year’s contestants.

  • Kevin C.

    Probably my favorite Idolatry interview so far. Refreshing to have someone so willing and so well able to hash over his screw-ups on the idol stage.

    I liked his description of “Under My Thumb” as “sung with a smirk”. To me it conjures a guy at the bar bragging to his friends about how he controls his wife/girlfriend instead of the other way around, and a reggae version could have brought across that sort of half-drunken swagger, but it just didn’t quite work right.

  • stevenjaba

    still not a fan – I was offended when he sang Hallelujah. However, after watching this, I’m impressed with him as a person.

  • Ashlyn

    Okay, why am I now loving Tim Urban?

    • kris

      you are not alone! He’s so much more likable than Andrew Garcia!

    • Stacy

      Me too! He just came off as a really smart, likable guy. Plus, I had a huge smile on my face for the whole interview. And it had very little to do with his perfect hair.

  • Marilyn

    Michael must be working on it, I can’t even find a play button.

  • Elizabeth

    AWESOME! I love how down-to-earth this kid is and how he’s standing up for himself, like Didi’s earlier interview.
    I have to say, I miss him already. This season has been such a “hot, honeyed mess*” that Tim was someone, other than Crystal, that I looked forward to, and not in the trainwreck kind of way.

    *-copyright Michael Slezak 2010

  • Suzanne

    He’s way more outgoing than I thought he’d be. Four volumes of interview! And not boring! You know, he’s way more talented than these kids being pushed by Disney and Nick.

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