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James Durbin watches "American Idol" from a new perspective
By Lauren Moraski

January 19, 2012 3:26 PM

(CBS) Life is a little different for James Durbin this January. Last year's fourth place "American Idol" finalist is no longer belting out rock tunes on the "Idol" stage, but watching the TV competition from the comfort of his own Santa Cruz, Calif. home, with his new wife Heidi and their son Hunter.

Durbin told that while tuning into the season premiere on Wednesday night he saw some familiar faces on the show: "Idol" hopefuls who auditioned in previous years, but didn't make it.

"I know they keep people on the back burner ... it's a strategy, a great strategy," Durbin told

Durbin knows the feeling. He first auditioned in 2008 before giving it another shot two years later when he made it on the show.

So what did he think about this year's first auditions episode? "It was good," he said. "There were some good singers on there."

But the 23-year-old singer-songwriter probably won't have time to catch every "American Idol" episode this season. The rocker recently released his debut album, "Memories of a Beautiful Disaster," featuring the lead single "Love Me Bad," along with "Stand Up," a song currently being showcased as an NFL stadium anthem.

"I don't think I can be as invested this season as I put my family through last season," said Durbin, who recently shot a music video for "Stand Up" and is already lining up 2012 tour dates.

Durbin, though, had some recommendations for this year's contestants.

"Get as much sleep as you possibly can," he said. "And just relax. Don't overthink it. Just stay true to who you are and be yourself. That's the best thing you can possibly do."

Good advice that stretches beyond the "American Idol" stage.

Watch Durbin's "Love Me Bad" video: