Taylor Hicks imparts grey-haired wisdom to “American Idol” hopefuls: “Cell phones are not your friend”

Steve Zak Photography/FilmMagicTaylor Hicks, the soulful salt-and-pepper-haired crooner who won season five of American Idol, has some advice for this season’s contestants: put down the cell phones.

“Cell phones are not your friend,” he tells ABC Radio. “When I went through Hollywood Week, I watched numerous contestants lose their voice because they talked all night and they talked all day on their cell phones and then when it was time to perform, they couldn’t or they didn’t have that richness and their voice was not rested.”

Hicks adds, “You have to be careful about mom calling too many times.”

If this season’s hopefuls can’t resist using their cell phones, Taylor thinks that time would be better spent building their social media presence on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. In addition to a unique voice and a memorable backstory, Hicks believes a strong social media following will be the key to winning American Idol.

Taylor, a harmonica player, also says playing your own music can’t hurt your chances, but warns hopefuls not to hide behind their instruments.  As for his thoughts on judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan, he says he loves how interactive and playful they are with the contestants.

“They’re down home,” he says. “They can interact, they’re not this sort of stoic star that you can’t really be tangible with or you can’t feel and touch and go up and hug.”

American Idol airs Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.