Locals: “X Factor” runner-up Josh Krajcik doesn’t lose himself

By Columbus Alive
From the October 31, 2013 edition
  • Photo by Meghan Ralston

Josh Krajcik was discussing his love of sad love songs during a recent interview when he stumbled upon a sentiment that could easily be applied to his own life.

“In a lot of ways heartache defines us,” said the Columbus resident, who headlines a concert at the Bluestone on Saturday, Nov. 2. “It’s not your victories, but your defeats that make you the person you are.”

Krajcik is perhaps best known for his biggest defeat — he finished as runner-up on the inaugural season of Fox’s televised singing competition “The X Factor” in 2011 — though few would label the turn of events a loss. This includes the singer himself, who remains almost impossibly grounded despite his ongoing brush with fame.

“I never expected being on the show, even if I won, would be my ticket to glory,” he said. “People are naturally dubious of folks that come from reality television shows. I’ve been guilty of that, too. I never watched those shows before, and I still don’t. It’s a fluke I was on one. So I don’t look at it as, ‘Oh, [‘American Idol’ winner] Phil Phillips sold all these kajillions and I haven’t, so what’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with America?’ I’m working. People are coming to my shows. They’re buying my disc. These are all good things.”

It’s fair to say the gregarious Krajcik is not typical of most reality show contestants. He’s big and burly, and his untamed mop of hair and unshaven countenance combine to make him look like a Viking that decided to chill on the marauding in order to follow Phish on the West Coast leg of its tour. At 30 when he first auditioned for the program, he was also markedly older than many of his fellow contestants, and the added maturity revealed itself both onstage (he knew who he was as an artist going in and was able to hold to that throughout the competition) and off.

“Maybe it’s just my personality, but I was never really nervous and [the other contestants] were just this bundle of chaos and nerves and I’d have to get out of the room and go smoke with the camera guys just to be around somebody normal,” he said. “So, yeah, I lucked out. For the most part I was in control.”

This firm grasp is evident on his major label debut, Blindly, Lonely, Lovely, which surfaced earlier this year and finds the singer applying his time-worn rasp (at this point he’s been compared with Joe Cocker more than Cocker himself) to a range of busted ballads that belie the stability in his own life.

“There’s something about that sad bastard music that resonates with me in a more meaningful way,” said Krajcik, who has been in a stable relationship for nearly a decade now. “I’m not sure why, but it’s probably a good question for my therapist if I had one.”