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Scotty McCreery On Hearing Himself On the Radio and Playing the Grand Ole Opry

by The Boot Staff / Wire Services, posted Jun 15th 2011 2:15PM
Scotty McCreeryAfter being crowned the newest 'American Idol' three weeks ago, Scotty McCreery has slept just "a couple of minutes," he joked, the charming singer from Garner, N.C. signed a record deal just days later, immediately started working on his debut album, made his CMA Music Fest and Grand Ole Opry debuts, weathered some whirlwind media rounds and prepped for the Idols Live tour.

Also in that short time, the bashful baritone saw his name go down in the history books, as his debut single, 'I Love You This Big,' made the highest Billboard Hot Country Songs chart debut by a new artist since 1984. That's nine years before he was even born. Yes, all these accomplishments to his name, and Scotty McCreery is still in high school.

AOL TV's friends at The Boot caught up with the 17-year-old in Nashville during CMA Music Fest to talk about the obligations that come with winning 'Idol' and why he thinks country music prevailed on the show. They also quizzed Garner's most famous boy next door about his adoring female fans and the country icons he adores himself, one of whom he met for the first time in a somewhat embarrassing situation.

What kind of pressure comes with having won 'American Idol'?
It's a lot of pressure. Just the title of 'American Idol' is something that people can look up to. I'm not Saint Scott, I'm not Mr. Perfect but I want to be that role model. I want to go down the same road that Carrie Underwood did -- kinda separate myself from 'Idol.' Because when you think of Carrie Underwood now, you don't think "'American Idol' Season Four winner," you just think "Carrie Underwood." I want to cross that bridge. There's a lot of pressure and work that goes into it, but I'm looking forward to it.

You're already well on your way across that bridge. Your first single, 'I Love You This Big,' has already broken a Billboard record!
That's very humbling for me. Just a week after 'Idol,' I heard about it in an interview and I was taken aback. I'm looking forward to what else I can do, if I can work my tail off to get there! If I can break another record, we'll see, but I've gotta just work, work work.

Where were you the first time you heard 'I Love You This Big' on the radio?
We went back to Garner the day after the finale, because I had to take a test for my English class. I got into town, and my dad let me drive -- my first time behind the wheel in four months. I'm a good driver; I just had my one-year anniversary of safe driving. [laughs] So, I started the car and just about a hundred yards later I heard the start of my song and was like, "What in the world?" I was going crazy. For my whole life, I've been on this side of the radio, so to be on the other side was pretty cool!

'Out of Summertime' was an online smash, even though it wasn't supposed to be! Despite the YouTube leak and subsequent removal of the song from all outlets, do you think it will be a single?
We didn't want it to leak, and we were upset at first but it was a cool thing to see the reviews we got back from it. People liked it! I'm kinda glad they got a sneak peek at what's going to be on the album. It sounded good, I'm happy with it.

You just performed on the Grand Ole Opry stage for the very first time. Tell me about your nerves going into that performance.
I was more nervous than any time I took the 'Idol' stage. Country music is what I love, and that's such an icon in the country music world; all the greats have played there. Midway through my song -- I hope there's a video, because you can see me start just cheesin', because I'm thinking, "Am I really doing this?" It was a really cool moment.

Being a traditional country singer, did you initially think you would be an underdog on 'Idol'?
I don't think you'd call me a traditionalist. But you can say I have an old soul, because I grew up listening to Conway Twitty and Hank Williams. I'm not going to sing 'Hello Darlin'' on the CMA stage or anything. [laughs] I have that old flavor in my songs and old sound, but you've gotta keep it contemporary in today's world. I didn't feel like I was the underdog, I just felt like I was being me and I was anxious to see where that took me.

This was the first time in 'Idol' history that both the winner and runner-up (Lauren Alaina) were country singers. What do you think that says about the show's fan base?
It's not that just country [fans] were watching the show; all of America was watching. It shows that country's gone more mainstream and is becoming the hot thing. I'm glad it turned out that way. And it didn't matter who won, because we both came out winners and both had the time of our lives.

The 'Idol' judges -- Randy Jackson, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez -- are all veterans of other genres, and they had nothing but praise for your country style, all season long.
They believed in me and Lauren, from day one. When Lauren auditioned, Steven said, "I think we've found the one." To see people like Steven Tyler, who's a living legend, and Jennifer Lopez, who knows everything about the industry, and Randy Jackson, who's produced and played in the industry, say those nice things to us, it was amazing.

This year, the talent pool from the Top 40 down was incredible. I don't think the judges were too light on us. They were honest for everybody. Randy called it the "remix" season, and I was proud to be a part of it.

You met a lot of celebrities while filming 'Idol,' but who have you been the most starstruck by here in Nashville?
I was in the bathroom [at the CMT Music Awards], and I heard somebody singing. And I was like, "Who is this cat singing?" And it was Keith Urban! He said, "How are you doing, Scotty?" It's weird running into people you've listened to on the radio for so long and have looked up to.

That's right, you do still have to finish high school! How do you think your young age might help you versus how it might hurt you in country music?
I'm not sure if it's going to help me or hurt me. Teen males have never really made it in country music, so it's going to be tough for me. I've talked to people who've laid out a game plan, but there's no formula for me. We can't go by what other guys are doing who are 40 years old in this industry. We have to go by something totally new and hope it works. I'm looking forward to seeing how the country world embraces a teen male country singer.

Speaking of teenagers, how do you handle all those screaming teenage girls who think you're so cute? You are quite popular with young ladies!
It was never like that before the show, I can tell you that! They weren't really running my way. It's just really cool for me that they're saying they love my music, but I don't know about cuteness. I've got big ears!

Check out the rest of Scotty's interview over at The Boot.

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