Chris Richardson, one of the two “American Idol” contestants voted off Wednesday night, says he doesn’t mind hearing the comparisons to Justin Timberlake.
But, he adds, those who’ve drawn the connection should listen to his album when it comes out and then decide if it still holds.
“To be even mentioned in the same sentence as someone so successful, it’s great,” Richardson told the Associated Press on Thursday in a phone interview. “They might be surprised whenever I come out with my album, that it’s completely different than his. So that’s when other people might one day be, like ‘Hey, you sort of sound like Chris Richardson.’ “
With the departure of the 23-year-old from Chesapeake, along with Phil Stacey, 29, of Jacksonville, Fla., there are four contestants remaining on the Fox talent contest — LaKisha Jones, Blake Lewis, Jordin Sparks and Melinda Doolittle.
Richardson, whose swan song was Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead Or Alive,” said he and Stacey had a feeling it was coming.
They were, he said, “at peace with it and we just accepted it. Usually when you go out there on decision night you usually go out there preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.”
Now Richardson is focusing on the future — the “Idol” tour and his album, which he said will be a mix of both rock and soul.
“It’ll be a mixture of a Maroon 5 sound with a little bit of Jason Mraz,” said Richardson, who also plays the guitar, drums and piano. “I love rock and roll but I have this soulful type voice and I just like to infuse both of them.”
From football to working at HootersRichardson had auditioned twice for the show, but it wasn’t until he belted out Donny Hathaway’s “A Song for You” for his third audition in New York that judges Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul took notice, comparing his voice and look to Timberlake.
“It has been a long journey and I’ve enjoyed every second of it,” he said. “I think that things happen for a reason. Maybe if I had made it through the times that I tried out the year before, I might not have made it this far. I sort of just give God the will and then I go from there. I’m pretty much in his hands.”
Richardson made a decision after his freshman year to focus on a career in music and not return to the football program at Christopher Newport University.
“I always wanted to be a professional football player but I also always wanted to be a rock star,” he said. “For me, I seemed like I shined more whenever I was in the nightlife scene singing in a club or bar as opposed to standing and waiting to get thrown in the game.”
After leaving the school, he studied music at community college while working at Hooters.
Richardson spent his shifts dancing and singing to James Brown in front of the white and orange tiled walls and silver stovetops, making his way from a cook to a supervisor in about four years, said general manager Jennifer Gillis.
“He used to love listening to his James Brown while he was at work,” said Gillis, who only knew of his real singing ability through recordings he had made. “He would sing goofily. He wouldn’t sing like he normally would, and he would joke around with the regulars and with the staff.”
Born in Belgium, Richardson moved around as a child with his sister Michelle, mother Phyllis, and father Danny, who was in the Air Force. As a child and teen, Richardson said he was overweight before he became more health conscious and shed about 40 pounds. At Great Bridge High School, Richardson played football and track before graduating in 2002.