The topic of last week's challenge on Platinum Hit was risk, and the judges showed eliminated contestant Jackie Tohn just how dangerous it can be to take one: after choosing country as her genre, she found herself kicked to the curb. Below the American Idol alum compares her two reality experiences, discusses Nick's antagonism and explains the thought process behind her much-maligned "Super Duper Rapper" hook.
On the show, you were surprised that you were eliminated. Looking back, are you still?
Jackie Tohn: Absolutely. Of the six weeks I was there, I placed more times than anybody. I thought they'd look at the fact that I kept winning the hook challenges. But at the same time, how many times can you be at the bottom? Had I really strategized, maybe I would have tried to be more mediocre in the hook challenges. That way, I wouldn't have placed and it wouldn't have been my butt on the line. If you look at it mathematically, if you place third [in the hook challenge], you're going into the team challenge in third place, and you got last pick of team. You end up working with people you'd never choose.
Although that didn't happen last episode, since you won the hook challenge.
Tohn: That's true. I meant the other times I was in the bottom. What happened the last time is Kara didn't like my hook in the first place, the public chose me. Kara, who I don't feel is a fan, continued to not be. That's fine. I think I had Keith and Jewel on my side. Kara's perfectly cool and awesome, I just happen to think she's not a fan.
Is it tough to be consistently evaluated by someone that you feel that kind of energy coming from?
Tohn: No. Keith was especially hard on Jes, but he happened to really like me. Kara loved Johnny. He opened his mouth and she was like, "When are we getting married? I'm carrying your babies." People had their faves. That's just how it goes. Really, as more time has passed, it's all good. This was such a great opportunity. I've always felt super cheesy saying, "My fans ..." and when other people do it's like, "Your fans?" But now I'm like, "Oh, my God, I totally have some fans." It's really cool. The love that I felt when [my elimination aired] was overwhelming. Strangers were lessening the blow for me.
Besides the ephemeral feeling of love, have you seen any actual progress in your career as a result of the show?
Tohn: Sure. I tour colleges, and that's something I did before the show. I was on American Idol a few years ago. It's interesting, this music game. I played colleges the year after I was on Idol, and it's been a year since that. The notoriety gets you to the next-level stuff.
What did you prefer: American Idol or Platinum Hit?
Tohn: That's a really hard question. American Idol, though I got eliminated sooner, was way less stress. Although I say that now and my friends and family are like, "Are you kidding? You were a lunatic." On New Year's Eve of 2008, we had to mail in our song selections. I had to leave a party to Google what songs I'd sing. Platinum Hit was cooler because I got to show what I do: write music. That said, Idol was every man for himself and I wish Platinum Hit would have been.
On your last episode, Scotty advised you to make several questionable decisions: choosing country as your song genre, putting Sonyae on your team and singing your song with a pronounced twang. Do you think he was sabotaging you?
Tohn: I don't think so because [that advice] could have just as easily meant his going home. What's weird is that they knew that he did all that and still I was the one who went home.
So you think he should have gone?
Tohn: Of course, I think that. Absolutely. It was also his idea for him to say, "I'm about to let you know where my heart's at." I knew I was offending [Scotty and Sonyae] when I said that was "urban," but that's exactly the word the judges used.
Your rap ("I wanna be a super duper rapper / But as it now stands I'm still a cracker") won the hook challenge only to be trashed by the judges. Was that confusing?
Tohn: I said to the panel, "Why'd you place me?" Jewel got really offended, saying, "You're questioning our placing you and not your ability to write a song?" They were talking about how my song lacked social commentary, but what about that hook did they think would bring that song into the political forum? It's like "Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)" [by the Offspring]. I figured if I wrote this dumb "Super Duper Rapper" song, I wouldn't place and it would just be funny. And then they placed me! I knew no one wanted to be on my team because it was an uphill battle. I knew we were going to be in third.
Any thoughts on Nick, your adversary?
Tohn: He's not an adversary of mine. I have no thoughts on him whatsoever. My one comment about him is that it's very sad. I really love people and I go out of my way to be good to people. When you meet someone who goes out of their way to cause other people pain, it's really troubling.
You were accused of talking too much, and there was plenty of evidence on the show to support that. Was it illuminating to watch that back?
Tohn: I talk too much. What can I tell you? I'll be the first to say that's true, but there's a lot of reality TV and tricks of editing involved.
In general, what did you think of your portrayal?
Tohn: It was fine. They put a lot of my snarky side comments from my confessionals in, which I appreciate. I thought the last episode was really kind, with Keith [Naftaly] saying he'll look out for me and Jewel saying how much she enjoyed me and that she'll buy my records. Of the five people that got eliminated before me, the judges didn't say anything to them but, "Bye." With me, they went out of their way to tell me I'd be missed.