DeAndre Brackensick, Steven Tyler's wild-haired wild-card pick, left the American Idol stage last night after an '80s night performance that impressed the judges but left adviser Jimmy Iovine asking questions.
"I've accomplished so much. Why be sad for things I've done?" the 17-year-old San Jose, Calif., singer told reporters in a conference interview. Brackensick, known for his falsetto, opened Wednesday's show with a performance of DeBarge's I Like It.
Randy praised, "I would make records like this," but Brackensick found himself in the bottom three, along with Elise Testone and Hollie Cavanagh, and then eliminated. Jennifer voted to save him, but was outnumbered by Randy and Steven.
"There's only so many second chances," Brackensick says. "I came from being America's nobody to at least a portion of America knowing my name."
Brackensick, who says he would be interested in making a record, acting or modeling, spoke about Jimmy Iovine's criticism, meeting his idol Eric Benet, going to prom and even his hair in a conference interview. The following transcript has been edited for clarity:
How hard is it to start off the show performing first?
It is hard because you know you don't want to get forgotten. But everything happens for a reason, so I was happy no matter what.
Did you talk to the judges after you were eliminated?
The judges came and talked to me, and I talked to everyone when I was packing up. It was all love. Everyone's amazing.
Did you think Jimmy was being hard on you when he criticized you?
No, not at all. Everyone has their own opinion. It's going to come from Jimmy, it's going to come from my fans, my friends and family. Much love to him for doing that, I respect him. I tried to prove him wrong, so he helped me in the long run.
Who did you mouth words to before you started singing your swan song?
I was talking to my sister because she was crying. I've accomplished so much, why be sad for things I've done? Why dwell on something that didn't happen than enjoy what has?
What did you have to do that older contestants didn't have to?
School. We had different call times or got pulled out earlier. It was kind of nice. It made things easier, being a minor on the show.
Who do you think will be the most fun on tour?
Everyone has their fun moments. It's just going to be a fun experience all around because we have such a close bond with each other. I really want people to come watch the show, come see how individual everyone is that you can't compare them. Everyone is uniquely talented
Were you shocked by your elimination?
The vote was bittersweet because I thought I did a very good job the night before, but it happened. I can't really explain the feelings, it was just more of a numbness because I was happy for myself but I didn't want to go.
What was it like meeting Eric Benet?
It was the highlight of my Idol experience. He's a big influence to me as an artist.
Is it going to be weird going to prom after this Idol experience?
It's going to be somewhat weird because I'm so used to being busy, busy, busy, living the Idol life. Hopefully, going home is a nice little break and I'll be busy for the rest of my life. I feel comfortable just to go to prom and enjoy it, go enjoy the things of being a kid, but also getting to experience Idol. It's the best of both lives.
What advice did you receive that you're going to carry with you?
Be yourself. Once you please yourself, you're good. The judges voted me in because they love me , so why would I change myself?
How do you maintain your curls?
It's natural. A little leave-in conditioner.
You know your music history! How important do you think that is in this competition?
It does help because you get thrown with a bunch of different genres. You need to know different styles, different genres, because song choice is the whole game of Idol at first. Knowing what to sing and how to sing it is very important.
What would you want your record to sound like?
R&B, soul, the falsetto, the old stuff, because I think music is really lacking that right now. I want to bring back instruments because everything's computers.
What was your reaction to Jimmy Iovine's negative feedback?
It was fine. People have their own opinions. It comes along with the gift and with the ride. It's all in love and I take everything to heart, it makes me want to drive further. I love the judges. They've always been supporting me from the beginning. When I was eliminated, it ended on a high note. No regrets.
Jennifer wanted to use the save on you. Were you surprised Randy and Steven did not want to use it? Did you ask?
I didn't ask, because people have their reasons. I think because I was a wild-card, I thought this was my second chance from last year, then my second chance being a wild-card, there are only so many second chances. I think they believe in me that I don't need the whole show to be who I want to be.
Do you think you act confident? Gwen Stefani mentioned you needed confidence.
It's the fact that you're being judged. There's a lot of times I was waiting for what they were going to say. What I realize is if it met up to my standards, it should all be good. I shouldn't have to worry about anything.
Why did you choose the swan song you did if it does not showcase your vocal talents?
I had a feeling I wasn't going to get saved, because I was a save already from the wild-card. Even though that song didn't show off anything, I just wanted to sing something fun and be happy about what I did accomplish on the show.
What is one thing you were surprised to learn about yourself?
That I'm able to be at that level with everyone else because it took me a long time to realize that I'm in this competition with everyone else. My idol came over and told me I did a good job with one of his songs! I can do what I want to do. I have that confidence now.
What are you looking forward for on tour?
Being with everyone, and going to my hometown and performing for everybody.
Jennifer called you a shining star, and then you got voted off the next week. What do you make of that?
My voice and my style is not popular these days. I'm trying to bring something back and it's not quite there in this generation. Also, everyone is just so good! Someone has to go home every single week. I just want to be grateful for this experience.
What's your next move?
Tour and hopefully getting a record deal out of this. I will grab on to anything—acting, modeling, whatever it is.