Thanks to the judge panel and fan voting, AleXa ended with a 200-point lead over her fellow competitors. Riker Lynch (Colorado) came in second, and Jordan Smith (Kentucky) came in third. Grant Knoche (Texas) was fourth, Allen Stone (Washington) was fifth, Tenelle (American Samoa) was sixth, Michael Bolton (Connecticut) was seventh, Ni/Co (Alabama) was eighth, Chloe Fredericks (North Dakota) came in ninth, and Tyler Braden (Tennessee) came in 10th.
Each sang their selected song in each round, with each performance elevated a bit from the last. And in the end, AleXa’s “Wonderland” won big. Here, she chats with TV Insider about her victory, her time on the show, and what she has planned next.
You won by a big margin. How are you feeling after the win?
AleXa: It still hasn’t sunk in yet. The reality still hasn’t hit me. Last night, I had my mother and father beside me along with all of my staff to celebrate the moment together. It was like a dream come true. Wonderland, wonderful, no pun intended, but it was so wonderful, honestly.
Are there any special plans to celebrate your win?
Seeing as yesterday we were kind of busy until the wee hours of the night with Korean phone interviews, I think today after my schedule ends, I might join my parents for a late Mother’s Day dinner, if possible, because I couldn’t be with my mom on Mother’s Day.
You get to present at the Billboard Music Awards this Sunday. Do you have any ideas for the look you’re going to pull for the awards show?
Oh, we do have a look in mind. I think it will be a stunning one thanks to the wonderful wardrobe team that has genius brains. [Laughs]
You’re from Tulsa, Oklahoma and have a successful music career in Korea. What does it mean to you to be able to expand your music career in the U.S.?
It means everything to me. Being Oklahoma born and raised for 21 years, and then going out to South Korea for the last four years to find myself and this amazing career, and then coming back to represent my home state on American Song Contest — it feels full-circle, like a kind of “welcome home” feeling.
You previously said you’re a big Eurovision fan. How did your K-pop career and your love for Eurovision help prepare you for American Song Contest?
If we’re looking at the K-Pop aspect of things, one of the things about live performance shows is you’ve got to find all these different cameras. Fortunately, with my background of doing music performances in Korea, I was able to find those little camera red lights. It’s a little tricky sometimes, but you get the hang of it.
And over on Eurovision — regarding yesterday’s finals, at least — we had a really good understanding of how the points system works. And it was really cool to watch the quarter-finals, semi-finals, and then finals in comparison to look at the current Eurovision people that are competing and to swap stages and take a look at that.
What was the most challenging part of this season?
So many challenges, in a good way, were present in this whole experience, but I think I would just say getting out of my own head. I overthink things a lot, and I tend to be my own worst enemy. Overthinking things, I think, was the biggest challenge.
Can you take us behind-the-scenes of how your various performances of “Wonderland” came together throughout the season? How did you keep each performance fresh?
How we elevated it every time, we were fortunate enough to work with the incredible Haus of Sam. They were the creative directors and helped create the vision for every single “Wonderland” stage that we put out. So every time, starting at the beginning, we thought, “What can bring the ‘wow’ factor? What’s going to be catching people’s attention?” So we have these ropes. And then, we upped the ante with the aerial silks. And finally, with the Queen of Hearts motif going on, we thought why not throw in a throne and have it suspended from the ceiling? They are magicians with their brains.
Can you explain the history of “Wonderland”? How did it come to be?
“Wonderland” was a giant collaborative project between myself and five amazing songwriters: Andreas Carlsson, Albin [Nordqvist], Bekuh Boom, Cazzi Opeia, and Ellen [Berg]. They put their hearts and souls into “Wonderland” and made it this incredible work of art that it is. I only hope that I did it justice, and I’m grateful that they trusted me.
Lyrically, the song itself talks about being led on by someone, and then breaking free of that fantasy. But we all know the story of the classic Alice in Wonderland, how the White Rabbit leads her through her journey in Wonderland. I like to think, metaphorically, the folks who shaped me and raised me to be who I am in Oklahoma are my White Rabbit that are leading me through my wonderland, my journey in life.
Other than your own, did you have a favorite song from the season?
Oh, there are so many! So many, so many. I remember every night after we finished recording the qualifiers, semis, or finals, I would always go home and be streaming things on my playlist. I’d be at the hotel gym in the morning running with different songs on the playlist. It was just too many to count, to be honest. Just way too many to count.
American Song Contest, Season 1, Streaming Now, Peacock and Hulu