After Trent Harmon won season 16 of American Idol in 2016, he didn’t rush to put out an album…and there’s a reason for that. “A lot of folks [from Idol and other shows] — even a lot of the artists who are really prominent, some big acts — they put out a first album and, let’s just call it like it is…it wasn’t very good,” Trent told HollywoodLife EXCLUSIVELY at CMA Fest. “They might put it out within three months or six months of winning the show, just wanting to get something out there, and it might do well. I got to talk to each one of them at some point and they’re like, ‘Why didn’t you put an album out?!’ and I said, ‘Because I want it to be good and I want to write it.’ If it’s good enough, it doesn’t matter how long it takes.”
The album, You Got ‘Em All, finally dropped on May 18, 2018, and Trent is proud of the product he put out…even though it took longer than people may have expected. “It’s very representative of me and things that I lived and did, rather than…let’s pull a bunch of someone else’s songs, record them and put them on a record,” he explained. “I don’t want to sing someone else’s songs for the rest of my life. It’s cool to have people singing songs at shows and I’m remembering where I was when I wrote the song and what the weather was like. I know I wouldn’t have had that moment if I hadn’t written the song.”
Trent had a part in writing most of the album, and said he took fan opinion into consideration when deciding which to put on the record. That included his 2016 single, “There’s A Girl,” which was originally released just months after the Idol win. “[The fans] kind of made the playlist,” he admitted. “The first album, I think you owe it to the fans and a lot of the people that followed me from Idol to Nashville. They deserved to have a say in the record.”
Why was ‘You Got ‘Em All’ a good first single to introduce fans to the record? It was weird — it was the last song I wrote that made it on the album, and it ended up being the first single. I think it’s because I was writing my best stuff toward the end. You get better progressively. I started out and I was terrible! I’ve never been a strong writer. But if you do something every day for two or three years, you get better.
Why do country artists seem to have the most success and post-show exposure after being on shows like ‘Idol’? I think, you know, we have things like CMA Fest, and fans know that…if I invest in this guy, there’s a chance I can go see them and I can go talk to them about voting for them. Even Carrie [Underwood] said…I still have people who come up to me at CMA Fest 10 years later and say, ‘I voted for you on Idol and this is the first time I’ve seen you since I voted for you.’ They think country artists are a little more tangible. I feel like they like to invest in people they feel are nice folks. We have a great format for people who care about you if you’re a nice person or not. By and large, we have nice people in the country format. It’s one of the reasons I’m still here. People care.
What is your advice for ‘Idol’ contestants after the show? Have a plan for the week after you win the show. You’ll do press for one week, just show up. But a week after the show or two weeks, you’re going to have a meeting with someone at a label, and they’re going to ask for a song or song ideas. I wrote “There’s A Girl” ten days after Idol. We had one day to write a song. I was not prepared. That’s the best thing I could tell them — save your voice, because you’ll be busy for the next year. So do your best to get some rest. You’re going to have crazy situations that pop up here and there, but you need to be present in EVERY interview. Every one is going to float around on social media for the rest of your life. Have a plan. Have a song idea.
It’s not singing — I told them that [when I visited Idol]. Everyone knows you can sing. You don’t make it to the top three of a singing competition if you can’t sing. You gotta do more than that. You need to work your socials because your livelihood depends on it.
Some days you don’t want to get on social media, but don’t just go ghost on your fans. Don’t just not check in for a month. Get on there and say..hey guys, we’ve had a heck of a day and I don’t wanna be on here right now. I’m tired, but I just wanted to check in with you guys and tell you why I’m not on my socials tonight. Be transparent. They’ll never get mad at you for being honest, even if it’s what they don’t want to hear.