American Idol 2008

'American Idol' Exit Q&A: Brooke White

The singing nanny talks about the judges' conflicting critiques, getting her confidence up, and relishing a pep talk from Carly Simon

Brooke White | BROOKE WHITE ''I could analyze it to death. I could take it apart. It would make no difference. I am where I am at. And…
Image credit: Michael Becker
BROOKE WHITE ''I could analyze it to death. I could take it apart. It would make no difference. I am where I am at. And hey, I made it to the top 5''

Earnest or annoying? Vulnerable or whiny? A true talent or a one-trick pony? You either loved or hated Brooke White, the G-rated nanny who became a contender with her powerful rendition of ''Let It Be'' but lost her mojo this week with ''I'm a Believer.'' Brooke called EW to answer some questions — and she didn't cry even once.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Brooke, I didn't think you'd be the one to go this week.
BROOKE WHITE: Yeah, obviously, I was pretty upset about it. I wanted to be strong. I really did. But I melted. I cracked. I became the sobbing, vulnerable Brooke for the 50 billionth time. People were probably like, ''Oh, please. Just stop.'' I just barely got through ''I Am...I Said.''

When I sat in on rehearsals last week, you were going to just have an acoustic guitar on ''I Am...I Said.'' And you were playing with the ''I'm a Believer'' arrangement. What happened?
I felt like I'd done so many serious songs, which is kind of me, but beyond my serious side I am lighthearted and fun and I like having a good time and being joyful. I kind of had some challenges picking a Neil Diamond song that worked for me. But I couldn't exactly say that to the audience. As far as starting on the guitar, I just had a strong feeling playing it on the piano. I loved both. They were complimentary about ''I Am...I Said.'' I don't know. I could analyze it to death. I could take it apart. It would make no difference. I am where I am at. And hey, I made it to the top 5.

The judges seemed to always want you to channel your inner Carly Simon, and then when you did, they'd tell you to step out of your comfort zone. How did you make sense of what they said to you?
It's a constant contradiction. I appreciate that the judges have to do their jobs. They've given me great feedback, but some of it makes no sense at all. There is no formula to how this works. You try to stay in your zone and then you're predictable. You get out of your zone and then it's like, ''Well, you should stay in your zone.'' At one point, I was getting pretty steady good feedback from them. But then it got rough. But all the while I don't think I changed my strategy.

So what went wrong?
The arrangement isn't always in your hands. I wanted to make ''I'm a Believer'' into something fresh and cool and new. At the end of the day, though, in an hour of rehearsal you have to do two songs, and there's only so much you can do. So I just went forward and hoped.

When you were backstage with David Cook and Syesha, did you think you were in trouble?
I knew that morning that I was going home. It was just a gut feeling. It's funny, though — regardless of what Simon said about Tuesday night being a ''nightmare,'' in the room it was not. It was really well received by the audience. For the first time in a couple of weeks I felt like I was completely present. I was in it. I had a confidence which I had been lacking. After the show Simon commented, ''Maybe that didn't work for you.''

He meant that people like you without confidence?
Yeah. It's like, Thanks, dude. He says what he thinks. Maybe he's right. Who knows? I leave knowing that I really enjoyed it. I walked off that stage with not a tear.

NEXT: ''It's live television. We're humans. And humans make errors. Some people like to hold onto things for a long time.''

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