Scotty McCreery on winning 'American Idol' -- and what's going on with him and Lauren Alaina
"American Idol" winner Scotty McCreery's Southern manners and humility were on display as he took reporters' questions in a conference call Thursday. Peppered throughout were "sirs" and "thank yous," and he sounded both pleased and conscientious, if perhaps a little surprised, to have found himself taking our questions as a newly minted "Idol" -- kind of the way you'd expect the sweet kid who mows your lawn to sound if you handed him a cold glass of lemonade and an extra five bucks on a hot day.
"My work here is done," he said of his successful "Idol" run. "It's time for the real job to start."
Here's some of what he else he had to say:
On how he's handling all the "Idol" attention:
This is pretty wild, I got to say. It's a whole lot more than I bargained for coming into this. I never would have expected it. But I'm handling it well. It's what I asked for, and this is my new life. It's a really crazy ride so far.
On being a favorite all season long, and if at any point he had doubts that he'd make it all the way:
This week, especially, [I thought I might go home]. [Runner-up] Lauren Alaina, she's something: She sings like a bird and she's just an amazing young lady. Every week, I've heard people say the "frontrunner" stuff and "the favorite," but to me, it never even crossed my mind like that. Because everybody this year -- from top 40 down -- was just so talented. ... But as far as doubting myself, I don't think I ever really gave myself a chance, before this show, [to try to make it] as a musician, and now it's just about the confidence. ... I mean, I've always had confidence in me. It was just weird, the nerves for this show. It's something else.
On Lauren Alaina kissing him at the end of the finale and saying he "might be" her boyfriend and whether there's really anything romantic going on between them:
Oh, no. ... Me and her, it's more like the brother-sister thing. She told me before the show she was gonna do that as kind of like a joke. She's a character, but she's lovely. Really, we're really close friends. I met her day one of Hollywood Week, and we were schoolmates through this whole experience. She's great. But yeah, it's more a brother-sister friendship between me and her.
On the album he hopes to make and who he hopes to work with:
I'm really looking forward to getting my music out there. We've already recorded two [original songs] this week. We weren't really sure which we were going to do [for the finale], and "I Love You This Big" turned out to be the one we did, but the other one I'm really excited about, too. I think it's gonna be a great album. I gotta pick good songs. That's what it's all about after the show. It's getting good songs. Because the fans got me to where I am; it's my job to get them the music they want to hear. But hopefully, me and Lauren Alaina will get to do a duet sometime. I'm not sure about the first album, but hopefully sometime soon.
On host Ryan Seacrest calling him "Scotty the Body" all season long:
Ryan ... told me early on that it was kind of like a tradition. I think he's done it with all the Scotts he's had on the show before.... It was more like a joke. I mean, I've been eating too many cookies [while working] on the show, anyway, so I'm not as toned as I was back in my baseball days.
On what was going on when he broke down in tears in the back of the limo during his hometown trip back to Garner, N.C.:
We were driving up to the school and I just looked out the window and I just saw all the familiar faces that I hadn't seen in so long. And someone said, "We missed you. We love you, brother." And it just really got me. I'm about to cry when I think about it. I've just missed them so much. And it was a great moment for me to be back there and just see them again. Because they're my friends. They were my friends before the show. Those are the true ones that I just really love.
On his now-scuttled potential career as a relief pitcher:
I don't think it would have gone past high school [anyway].
On whether he had a game plan to remain in his comfort zone:
Everyone had their own niche. I mean, Casey would sing his jazzy, kinda rocker, growly music. Jacob would sing his gospel music. James sang his rock music. And I sang my country music. ... We'd do different songs, but we all had that kind of genre we'd stay to. Country music is me. It's what I grew up with, it's what I do, so I didn't have any intentions of changing. My thing was, if it got me this far, why change it up? It's what I love to do.
On whether he really sank that three-point basketball shot in the first try:
I tried it from the steps initially, and I was missing terribly. So I said, well, why don't we try that from the balcony? And that was my third attempt from the balcony that I made that shot.
On his "coronation" song, "I Love You This Big":
I love the song. It's a great song to start off with. When they pitched it to me, I fell in love with it, and I really ... last night when I sang it for my finale song, it was kind of a choked-up performance. But I got through and I hugged my family with it.
On what his thoughts were going into Wednesday night's results show:
My thought was that [Lauren Alaina had] wrapped it up when she sang that finale song, ["Like My Mother Does."] That's just one of the most beautiful song I've ever heard. And I was more than nervous coming into it last night. It worked out in my favor, but Lauren, she's sweet. She's been supporting me and I've been supporting her through this whole process. We're really close friends, and you know, we both came out winners last night.
-- Amy Reiter
Photo: Scotty McCreery learns that he is the "American Idol" winner Wednesday at the Nokia Theatre. Credit: Michael Becker / Fox