Recently eliminated American Idol contestant John Park says he learned a lot on the show, but he took away one particularly important lesson that he would not have discovered without Idol – he doesn’t want to be in the spotlight.
“Being on the show made me realize I’m not a TV person, or I don’t think I can ever be a performer because I actually don’t really enjoy people stopping me at the street, stuff like that,” Park says. “I’m thankful for the support and everything, but I’m just trying to be modest about it and just kind of take it in I guess.”
A Northwestern junior who sings for the a capella group Purple Haze, Park had made it as a top 16 finalist. During the two weeks he was in the top 24, Park sang John Mayer’s “Gravity” and Billie Holiday’s “God Bless the Child,” both of which received more negative than positive comments from the judges. Hearing these comments was one of the most difficult parts of being on the show, Park says. However, when the judges said something that required him to change as an artist or a person, he knew he needed to stick to his guns.
Saying goodbye was also difficult for Park.
“You breathe and rehearse and live together,” Park says. “When I got eliminated, oh man, most people were bawling, and it’s genuine. It’s crazy because you see it on TV…I always thought it was all fake, all the friendships that they made, but being on the show is a totally different perspective.”
In addition to friendships, Park also gained something less tangible by being on the show.
“Having [Ricky Minor and the vocal coaches] tell me, ‘You have a great voice, and you have a natural talent, and this is what you need to do to become better,’ that’s when I started to believe in myself, having their credibility,” says the self-described introvert. “That was just so incredible; it made me want to cry.”
Although Park is back at Northwestern, he won’t be taking classes Spring Quarter and will instead be interning and songwriting in the spring. When he begins classes again, he is considering a major in Psychology or applying to the School of Communications. Right now, though, Park is adjusting to his newfound fame.
“It’s kind of strange to walk around and have random people recognize me, and it’s a little daunting,” Park says. “I feel like I can’t mess up anymore. I feel like I can’t go out to parties and get really wasted and do stupid things that I love to do, you know? So that’s kind of an issue, but that’s alright.”
While Park is not sure what his future holds, he looks back on his experience with Idol with no regrets.
“One big thing I learned also is gratitude and being thankful because to have an opportunity like this, it’s a miracle,” Park says. “Having this much exposure on an incredible platform is… I still can’t believe that I had that experience.”