Entertainment

Scotty McCreery shares 'American Idol' secrets, downplays Jack Black snub

Did Scotty McCreery really mean to snub comedian Jack Black on the night of the "American Idol" finale? What did Scotty really think about those group song-and-dance numbers the finalists had to do? And was Hollywood Week really as dramatic as it looked on TV?

Here are some more tidbits from our recent interview with Scotty. For our story on how he is balancing his new fame and being a teen, go here.

The Jack Black "snub." After being named the "Idol" winner on May 25, Scotty had to sing his single "I Love You This Big" while also going to the front row to hug family and friends. Scotty hugged his father, Mike; his mother, Judy; his sister, Ashley; and three special guests who were key mentors for him -- guitar teacher Gary Epperson, musician Bud Moffett and WQDR radio's Marty Young. As the cameras captured Scotty hugging each person down the line, a seventh person, comedian Jack Black, reached out his arms for a hug -- and Scotty seemed to ignore him and head back to the stage. Black exaggeratedly played up the snub. But Scotty said it wasn't intentional. In all the excitement, he didn't even see Black, who had performed earlier in the show. "If I had, I would have given him a hug," Scotty said. "It's Jack Black!"

The dance numbers. "Idol" is prone to making all of its contestants do group song-and-dance numbers such as "Born This Way" from time to time. Scotty sometimes looked like he was out of his country comfort zone. Yep, he acknowledges, he sometimes was. "It was fun," he said of the dance numbers. "But it was probably the least fun."

Hollywood Week. Viewers of the show remember that during the dreaded Hollywood Week auditions, Scotty had trouble finding a group that wanted a deep-voiced country singer. He ended up with a group that then ousted another contestant Jacee Badeaux, 15. What viewers didn’t get to see was that Scotty was not in the room when the ouster happened. He wasn’t happy about it. And Scotty's mother Judy, who had grown close to Jacee’s mom, was livid. “The group made Jacee leave, and I wanted to kill somebody,” she remembered. In the end, Scotty defended Jacee and won new fans who appreciated that Scotty seemed to be a standup guy. Also during Hollywood Week, Scotty badly mangled the words to Lee Ann Womack's "I Hope You Dance." He said he barely had time to learn the song, which was one of the few he had even heard of on a list of 25 choices such as Bruno Mars' "Grenade." Scotty noted that he mainly listens to country music, and "I Hope You Dance" was about the only country choice.

The "Idol" judges. Scotty said Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler are all down to earth. He recalled Lopez being backstage with her mother one night, getting her mom's help with a shoe strap. Tyler, in particular, is "like a grandparent" to the contestants. Scotty said he knew that his audition, in which Tyler memorably cursed, was destined to be shown often. "I thought, I'm in an 'American Idol' moment here," Scotty remembered.

"Idol" mentor Jimmy Iovine. Though music producer Iovine sometimes appeared intimidating during his sessions with the "Idol" contestants, Scotty said he was "really a good guy." That's not to say the two always agreed. Scotty remembered that during the week the contestants had to sing a song from the year they were born, he chose "Can I Trust You With My Heart" by Travis Tritt. Iovine wanted him to consider other songs. Scotty said he listened to nearly 100 other options with Iovine, before ultimately going with his first choice. Scotty said he felt the final decision was always up to the finalists. "We are the ones putting our tail on the line," he said.

Celebrity mentors. Of all the singers who coached the contestants this season, Scotty said he particularly liked will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas, who proved very helpful. And as for Lady Gaga? Scotty said viewers didn't get to see half the outrageous things she said to him. When Scotty left that mentor session, he mentioned to a producer that he needed to kiss the cross around his neck and seek forgiveness. The producer immediately asked him to do just that on camera.

The "Idol" mansion. For the first few weeks, "Idol" had this season's finalists -- and parent chaperones like Judy -- stay in a Hollywood mansion. "For the first 24 hours, it was a lot of fun," Judy said. But there was little privacy, and after a heavy rainstorm led to an insect problem, the contestants were moved to their own apartments.

The songs. During his homecoming visit to Garner on May 14, Scotty was twice taped saying that judges had just sent him a text message that he would be singing Kenny Rogers' "She Believes In Me." But Scotty already knew he'd be performing the song. In fact, he had recorded a version of it for iTunes the day before. Scotty's favorite performance of the season? Montgomery Gentry's "Gone," in which he energetically raced around the stage. It was the first time all season he broke a sweat, Scotty said.

The response from other country artists. Scotty said they have been nice and helpful. Tim McGraw, who performed with Scotty on the "Idol" finale, told Scotty he was there to help Scotty and make him look good. Josh Turner, who surprised Scotty during his Garner homecoming, also has given much support, Scotty said. And country superstar Taylor Swift sent both Scotty and runner-up Lauren Alaina flowers.

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