Jessica Shaw
March 07, 2007 AT 05:00 AM EST

The first real shock of American Idol season 6 happened last night, when A.J. Tabaldo got voted off instead of Sanjaya Malakar. Alaina Alexander had a bull’s-eye on her forehead after the judges’ comments this week, Leslie Hunt may have killed her chances with that scatting, and Nick Pedro? Well, maybe two times on American Idol is one too many. The four former contestants called up today to talk about what went wrong and drop hints about what could be going right in the near future.


First of all, you had one of the funniest moments in Idol history when you looked into the camera at the end of last night’s show and said, ”Why did I decide to scat? America don’t care for jazz.” Was that planned?
No. I didn’t know what people do. I’ve never seen the show. I can’t imagine people keep their cool when they’re voted off. It was just so crazy to be in that moment. I walked away and I was like, ”What did I just say?” I had to ask someone.

Wait. You’ve never seen American Idol?
I don’t know if that’s something good about me. It’s not that I think I’m too cool. It’s just that I’m not that big of a TV watcher. If it was on when I was flipping channels I would watch, but I wouldn’t go home just to watch anything.

So why audition for the show?
I knew about it and I’d seen so many success stories happen. I wanted to try something new. You know how the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? I was doing the same thing over and over and I thought maybe this was a long shot but I’d try something new.

Where do you think you went wrong?
It’s really hard to say what exactly happened. I know I’m kind of quirky. I always felt like a self-prophetic outcast because I do it to myself. I’m an outsider looking in. For that reason I never really thought that the producers and judges would get me, [but] they ended up getting me and getting my vibe and style of singing. Maybe it was just that everyone else is so friggin’ awesome.

Not everyone. You can’t think you were the worst singer up there!
I don’t. I hope that doesn’t get me into a sticky situation. I don’t think I was one of the better ones, though, as far as pure talent and vocal abilities.

Whose voices blew you away?
I would love to tell you, honestly, but they told us not to do anything like that. I guess it gets into a fairness issue. There are a few that stand out in my mind.

Some members of the fashion police had issues with your skirt-and-leggings outfit this week. Care to defend yourself?
Really? I just don’t like my legs that much. I probably would have pulled the leggings down a little bit, but the stylist thought they would be better up around my calves or my knees. I like to dress creatively. I wouldn’t feel comfortable performing in a ballgown or leather chaps, not that I’ve ever worn them in my life. I thought it was a damn cute outfit.

Did you ever read criticism about you online?
I swore off the Internet after I saw someone wrote I had a ”protruding jaw.” I was like, what? It’s so easy to get wrapped up in it. But doing American Idol all day and then going home and reading about it was too much.

You and Gina must have gotten close, because she was crying hysterically when you got voted off.
If the tables had been turned, I would have not let go of her while she was singing her song. I would have been gripping her legs. We hit it off at the end of Hollywood week and she was my roommate. I don’t think I would have gotten through all this without her.

Now that you have a day of distance, do you think the scatting did you in?
It felt good at the time. I wish I was one of those people that took risks and was like, ”Whatever.” But I’m such a bad second guesser. At least I felt like I was the comic relief. Maybe I should get into comedy. Who knows?


What’s your mood at the moment? You seemed pretty down last night.
I’m good. At one point I think I was delirious. But it stopped when I just got really good news and I’ m so excited.

Really good news? About your career?
I don’t think I can say, but yes, involving my career.

Well, good luck with your secret. About last night, what happened? Do you wish you’d sung something other than ”Not Ready to Make Nice”?
No, I really connect with that song. The Dixie Chicks are amazing artists. I am similar — I play guitar, I write, and I play my own songs. I also connect with the emotion: I really felt like that on the show — I’m not ready to make nice, I’m not ready to give up on the show in spite of what the judges said. So it kind of stunk to go home. I honestly felt like I gave it my all, but it hurts when they don’t like you two weeks in a row.

Maybe it was that old Dixie Chicks backlash that hurt you?
I have no idea. I didn’t think the song would influence people, but who knows? It’s 30 million people you’re trying to please. Someone told me I made history though, by not singing my song [after I got kicked off]. Most people get choked up but make it through. I was the one person in six seasons who started off rocky right from the start.

I was so nervous for you that you wouldn’t be able to get a note out.
Yeah, I was emotional. I wanted the girls to come down and hug me and cheer me on. I was being honest, I guess. I still haven’t watched it yet. I’m dying to see what it looks like. In the moment you forget you’re being filmed. You don’t think that millions of people are watching you. I’m sure I’ll see it and think, ”Quit crying, you baby.”

What was up with Sundance weeping?
I saw him afterwards. He is just the sweetest thing. He said, ”Man, I can’t wait for you to blow up. Just remember me when you do.” He’s such a god guy.

Anyone else you got especially close to?
All the girls hung out together. And I had a group of guys I was close to — Blake, Chris Richardson, and A.J. They’re my boys.

Shocker about A.J., huh?
Yeah, he’s so talented and he did not hit a sour note ever. But America votes and that’s it, you know?

So what did you do last night after you stopped crying?
My dad had flown down from Chicago and my boyfriend was visiting. We went out for a nice dinner at Dolce.

Isn’t that the place that Mike Boogie from Big Brother owns?
Yeah, my boyfriend is friends with Mike. My boyfriend kept telling everyone I was just kicked off. I was like, ”Thanks, honey.”

Did Mike have any inspiring words about reality show competitions for you?
Yeah, he was like, ”You lose the first time around and then you have to come back and win.”

NEXT PAGE: A.J. on standing next to Sanjaya, and Nick on the ”exact moment my heart broke”

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