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'Idol' exit Q&A: Michael Johns

The Aussie singer, eliminated last night in a shocker, admits he thought Ryan Seacrest’s trick was ”pretty cruel.” Plus: what the judges said to him, why he wore the cravat, and whether he’ll become a model/actor

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Michael Johns, American Idol
A Rapoport/Getty Images

Did your jaw hit the floor last night? Have you managed to get out of bed today? Are you contemplating leaving the country? We feel your pain about the surprise elimination of American Idol‘s Michael Johns, the sexy singer from Down Under. So while EW.com spoke to him today, we did so with a staff-wide ache in our cyber-hearts.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Michael, one of my colleagues is threatening to move to Canada because he can’t live in a country that would vote you off American Idol.
MICHAEL JOHNS: You are so sweet. But this year more than any other year it’s week-to-week. You can’t say someone is going to make it through because they had a good week. People have to vote.

You looked so completely shocked. Were you thinking that Syesha and Carly had such mediocre performances that for sure you’d be safe?
It wasn’t like that. Back there it was me, Kristy, Jason, Syesha, and Carly. I was like, ”Okay, I get what’s going on. This is going to be a shocker week.” I hadn’t been in the bottom three before, and everyone is due for that. I didn’t think I was going home, though. It just goes to show you that you never know.

Was Ryan unnecessarily cruel when he went on about how no one was kicked off last year during ”Idol Gives Back” week, and then said you were kicked off?
You know what? I’d be lying if I didn’t say that was pretty cruel. That one was a tough one. When Ryan said I had the lowest number of votes, he gave me this look as if to say, ”Mate, you know I don’t want to say this right now.” But it’s a TV show, and at the end of the day, it’s entertainment.

You looked pretty shaken up. Was it hard to compose yourself?
I wasn’t, like, destroyed or anything. I probably would have been more sad if I felt I didn’t sing the song as good as I could, and if I didn’t hit those high notes. There was a moment when I took a really deep breath in and I saw my wife, and she said, ”I love you.” I just exhaled then. If you re-watch, you’ll see I just switched then. I thought, ”Just suck it up. This is the last time you’re going to perform on this stage.”

You re-watched the show already? Isn’t that a little masochistic?
I just wanted to know how I sang at the end.

From watching it, you could tell how shocked everyone was. What was it like up on stage?
It was insane. You could hear a pin drop initially. Paula’s jaw was wide open, and even Simon looked at me as if to say he wasn’t expecting that. Everyone started booing.

Was Simon right that you made the wrong song choice?
[Aerosmith’s] ”Dream On” is an American classic. I’m living the dream right now. Every week I’ve chosen songs because they mean something to me.

What did the judges say after the cameras were off?
They were really sweet. Paula grabbed me and said, ”Oh, please. You’re going to have so many offers come your way.” Randy told me to stick to the blues. And to have Simon say on camera that he’s going to miss me and that I’m a good guy was great. You can’t ask for more than that.

NEXT PAGE: Michael Johns explains the cravat

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Do you feel angry that you’re so much better than at least two people who are still in the running?
MICHAEL JOHNS: You have moments of that. But honestly, you can’t say Brooke’s voice over Carly’s, or Syesha’s over Jason’s. No one is competing in the same genre. I love that David’s version of rock songs is completely different from my version.

You were the oldest contestant. Did you feel like you were performing with a bunch of children?
And the oldest among the P.A.s. I nicknamed myself Papa Johns. It was cool. I don’t think it necessarily helped or hurt me.

Who were your good friends on the show?
Luke Menard and Jason Yeager and Carly and David Cook were my day-to-day buds. I had great moments with all of them. Syesha was just starting to come out of her shell with me. Once you get to know her, she’s hilarious.

Any advice for your fans who don’t know whose performances to watch 10 times anymore?
Life goes on. And hopefully, I’m going to make a killer record that will come out next year.

Do you think being Australian hurt you? Maybe people in the heartland of this country wanted a born-and-bred American?
I can’t answer that. I can tell you that behind the scenes, people didn’t care. The thing about this country is it’s the melting pot of the world. If you live here and love this country, you can achieve anything.

Let’s talk about the cravat. Whose idea was that — yours or stylist Miles Siggins’?
Miles had been wanting me to step up the fashion for a while. I thought you can’t come out wearing leather jackets after two weeks, because people will say, ”Who is this idiot?” I wanted to do a Tom Petty-meets-Scott Weiland look. The week I did ”We Are the Champions,” Miles wanted me to do that kind of look, but I wanted to wait until the right time, which was Dolly week. I absolutely dug it. Miles is so talented. I have a saying: In Miles We Trust.

You’re clearly a good-looking guy and you’re living in Los Angeles. Any chance you’ll be modeling or acting?
Music is all I can do. I can’t act. And I certainly don’t have the body for modeling.

Was Randy right that you should do bluesy soul stuff and not rock?
I love singing the bluesy soul stuff. It’s totally what my record is going to sound like. But there’s also going to be something you can dance to. And rock. It’s going to be Otis Redding meets the Stones meets INXS.

There’s a school of thought that some contestants don’t want to win American Idol so they’re not shackled with that title forever. What do you think?
People said that to me going in, that I don’t want to be more than third or fourth. But it hasn’t hurt Carrie or Kelly Clarkson. But Jennifer Hudson and Chris Daughtry and Kimberly Locke are fine too. It doesn’t matter where you end up, if you stay true to your art.

What were you going to sing during Mariah Carey week?
I was going to do a really cool, bluesy version of ”Vision of Love.” [Starts singing] ”You treated me kiiiiind…”

Did you just serenade me?
I did.

Let’s just end there. No answer will top that.