If you aren't feeling the new American Idol voting system, you've got a friend in Season 7 finalist Brooke White. She tells TVGuide.com she's certain she wouldn't have strummed her way all the way to the top 5 last year if this year's rules were in play, and also gives us the lowdown on her new album and health campaign — plus her thoughts on Season 8.
TVGuide.com: Have you been watching this season at all?
Brooke White: You know what, I actually have not! I've been so busy. I've been going around everywhere — New Orleans, Florida, now I'm back in L.A. — but I just haven't had the time. I did watch the first [night of the semifinals]. I'm gonna try to watch whenever I can.
TVGuide.com: What did you think? Did you have a favorite?
White: I don't have a favorite yet because I haven't been really been following, but I did like the guy that sang "Hero" [Danny Gokey]. We'll see ... I am going to vote once I start watching more. I didn't vote [that] night! [Laughs] But I think everyone needs to vote. It's important to vote!
TVGuide.com: How does it feel to watch other people go through what you did?
White: Oh, wow, you know, watching this year, I'm just so grateful I made it on last year! I wouldn't have made it on this season! [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Why, because of the new format?
White: Well, I guess they're going back to the first few seasons with the Wildcard Round. I didn't watch the first few seasons; I started watching later with, like, Season 5, and that was the other format. I dunno — it may be a little harder now because they had groups in Hollywood Week. We didn't have groups in Hollywood Week. I just got to do my thing and I don't know how I would've done this year or in a group ... Groups are hard because you have to work together and if you don't get along, they can sense that and then you're done. It's so much more dramatic now. So I'm just thankful to have made it through last year — and I was sick too and that was hard. I'm doing this campaign now called "I Don't Want to Miss" to educate people about the flu and how to prevent it.
TVGuide.com: What are you doing for it?
White: "I Don't Want to Miss" is about raising awareness of the importance of flu vaccinations for teens. You know, we don't want to miss these big moments in our lives because we're sick.
TVGuide.com: Like competing on American Idol —
White: Right! Exactly! [Laughs] So basically we have a contest at IDontWantToMiss.com where teens can submit videos talking about what they don't want to miss because they're sick and I'll go to the winner's school and perform a concert. People think December is flu season, but flu season is actually in February. We just want to encourage people to get flu shots. Please get them! I got mine. I think I'm scared of needles so I was afraid, but you need to get them. Also, don't cough into your hands anymore — the new thing is to cough into your elbow!
TVGuide.com: How hard was it to compete while sick?
White: It was very hard. I was exhausted and nervous but, you know, I was able to get through it. Like I said, I'm just very grateful I made it through to the top 12 last year. I mean, someone like me — a singer-songwriter — it's quite unusual. I think it was just perfect timing for me and I'm very happy about that. It was the last year with the [old format] and they allowed instruments [for the first time], so I was able to show who I was. And also, not a lot of [female] contestants played an instrument last year, so I think it helped me stand out.
TVGuide.com: Being a singer/songwriter, were you ever intimidated going up against the big-voiced belters that normally populate Idol?
White: Oh, definitely! It's very intimidating, but I know who I am and I know I can't compete with their voices. I don't have a range like that! [Laughs] I am a singer-songwriter and I'm so happy I was able to be myself and make it as far as I did.
TVGuide.com: One of your memorable moments was when you stopped and re-started a song, and then you did that spoof on Best Week Ever — Brooke White Stops and Starts the Classics. Is there a follow-up to that?
White: Oh my God! I hope not! [Laughs] That was just, you know, I figured you gotta have fun with it and be able to laugh at yourself. When I did all the interviews, they [pitched] it to me and I knew I had to do it. I'm gonna be the girl that stopped and started a song! [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Do you have any advice for this year's contestants?
White: Don't Google yourself! [Laughs] Never Google yourself. You just read things that you don't want to read and you don't need that. I did it once this time last year and just immediately stopped after that. People say such mean things and act like they know you. So just don't Google! You want to, but don't do it!
TVGuide.com: Tell me about your album. Are you recording now?
White: I'm done writing. I spent two-and-a-half months writing and co-writing. We have a whole bunch of songs and now we're heading to the studio and I can't wait. I'm really excited. I love being creative. It's called High Hopes and Heart Break and it comes out [on my birthday] June 2.
TVGuide.com: Who are you working with on the record?
White: Oh, a bunch of people. Well, I actually recorded a duet with Michael Johns. He was so nice and asked me to do this duet with him, "Life Is Okay," for the Shaun White movie [the documentary Don't Look Down]. So we did it and it was so great to work with him again.
TVGuide.com: Just collaborate with everyone from last season.
White: I know, right? It'll be me and Jason Castro next! [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: What kind of album is it going to be? Is it going to be similar to Songs from the Attic?
White: It's still going to be me — the singer-songwriter. You're still gonna see me with a guitar or sit at the piano. That's not changing. It's gonna be an organic record, I think. I like to say it's the "sound of California." [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Have you babysat again since Idol?
White: [Laughs] Oh, the twins! I don't babysit anymore, but I actually just saw them not too long ago. I went back and it was just like old times. It was so much fun! I miss them!