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June 29, 2010 | 05:48 pm PT
Norman Gentle’s “Brit Slap”
Season 8’s funny man, Nick Mitchell, entertained viewers as his sweatband-wearing alter-ego, Norman Gentle. Norman released his debut music video, “Brit Slap!,” in which he hits the streets of New York City with America’s Favorite Brit, Simon Cowell and meets up with another popular Brit, Nigel Barker. AmericanIdol.com caught up with Nick Mitchell to learn more about the inspiration behind “Brit Slap!", how American Idol changed his life, and what’s next for Norman.
When songwriters/producers Dennis DelGaudio and Ayhan Sahin asked Nick if he’d like to record a song, the 27-year-old jumped at the opportunity. “I’ve worked my entire life at trying to become the next Clay Aiken or to get on Broadway,” Nick recalled, but that’s not the kind of recording Dennis and Ayhan had in mind…they wanted Norman! Norman went into the studio to record around the time when it was announced that Simon Cowell would be leaving American Idol. The folks at Young Pals Records International realized this would be a great time to produce a tribute to the famous Brit called “Brit Slap!”. After recording the track in November, Nick got the news to bring Norman to New York City’s Times Square for a music video shoot. On April Fools’ Day, Norman arrived at the shoot in his uniform and noticed 14 cameras, a trailer, police escorts, and Julliard dancers, making him believe this was a prank. Fans gathered as Norman danced with a cardboard cutout of Simon, hung out with Nigel Barker, and mocked some of pop’s biggest music videos. Check out the full music video.
Norman Gentle was one of the first contestants invited to perform on consecutive American Idol finales. He ripped off his pants (revealing his signature shorts) and sang “And I’m Telling You” on the Season 8 finale while accepting a “Golden Idol” trophy, and then he performed with Dane Cook on the Season 9 tribute “Simon Said.” Nick was taken aback by the whole experience admitting, “I was in the green room with all of the American Idol winners, and I was so star-struck. I didn’t have the cojones to talk to Kelly Clarkson, but I hugged Fantasia. It was Lee’s night, but it was also Simon’s night, and I felt so honored to be invited back.” Nick took the stage as Norman and dragged along the cardboard Simon as seen in the “Brit Slap” video. He saw Simon briefly that night and the Brit mentioned that he saw the music video and thought it was funny.
Although Nick didn’t get past the semi-finals round of the competition, American Idol has changed his life. “I’m so lucky to have this exposure,” Nick said. “The fact that the show aired pretty much everything I did during auditions was amazing. Three years ago I was trying to be the next Clay Aiken, but I was always cast as the funny guy, so I just ran with it. Doing the character of Norman, I never imagined I’d get through to the live shows. I swear, once in a while I can hold a note, but I’m permanently Norman…even Paula Abdul and Simon see me and say, ‘Hey Norman!’ The show has people that really care. American Idol wasn’t an endgame for me. I saw it as an opportunity to get five minutes in front of 30 million viewers. I was in Group 2 of Season 8, which had contestants such as Allison Iraheta, Adam Lambert, Kris Allen, Matt Giraud – pretty much the entire Season 8 tour – and I just went out there to sing with the best band in the world for two minutes.”
Earlier this year, Norman tried out for a 2-week gig as an American Idol correspondent for “The Wendy Williams Show,” and it turned into a 14-week gig. “I’m forever grateful to American Idol because it’s so hard to get two minutes with an agent, and now agents will have a meeting with me just because I’ve had some exposure through American Idol. I worship people like the American Idols and Wendy Williams.”
What’s next for Nick and Norman? “I’m working on an album that is like a marriage between Weird Al and Michael Buble.” That’s an unexpected marriage that we can’t wait to see!
The more serious side of Nick ended our interview with these words, “I just want to say thanks to American Idol from the bottom of my heart for changing my life forever.” And to all those Season 10 hopefuls, Nick advises, “Accept who you are and everything else will fall into place.”