Jessica Shaw chats with booted ''Idol'' contestant Kevin Covais about spouting off to Simon, the sex-symbol thing, and how he really felt about being called Chicken Little

Love him or hate him, you have to admit Kevin Covais was one of the more entertaining contestants American Idol has ever seen. From his geekalicious rendition of ”Vincent” to his studly spot on Tuesday night’s Ford Focus commercial, the bespectacled 16-year-old had a fascinatingly diverse fanbase, including the underage, the elderly, and the unlikeliest of all, Simon Cowell. We caught up with Covais the morning after he got sent home.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Kevin, most fans would say your rendition of ”When I Fall in Love” was your best performance ever. Were you surprised to get voted off after such a strong showing?
KEVIN COVAIS: You know, I felt amazing about my performance. I felt I couldn’t have done it any better. It was the first song I felt like I connected with 100 percent, both with the song and the lyrics. For me to go out on a song like that was going out with a bang.

Did you know the song already before you chose to sing it?
I had heard the Nat King Cole version and Celine Dion’s version. I took a listen to it and it really applies to me. I am a young guy. I haven’t fallen in love. I wanted to do more of a ballad this week. I did the whole dancing-around-like-a-fool thing last week, so I wanted to go back to doing what I do best.

Clearly, it worked: All three judges gave you props. Were you surprised?
It wasn’t surprising, but it was really refreshing. That was the first time all three of them said mostly positive things.

As a contestant, do you tend to take what certain judges say more seriously? It seems like Paula always has something nice to say…
Right, like, You sounded horrible, but you looked pretty.

I try not to analyze it and say Simon’s opinion is 10 times more important than anyone else’s. I take what each of them has to say and I respect what they all say. But I love the feedback I’ve gotten from Randy best.

A couple of weeks ago you put Simon in his place when he criticized your performance: You snapped back that you weren’t expecting anything from him either. That took some serious guts.
For me it was four weeks in the making. I’d gotten nothing but negative feedback. He was always like, ”I like you. I like you.” But he never said anything about my voice. I was fed up and the New Yorker in me came out. I wasn’t expecting to say anything to him that night, but I think he respected me for standing up to him.

Were you able to talk to him after the show last night?
Yeah, I was able to talk to all of the judges. All three of them came up on stage and each of them gave me a hug and gave me advice. I could tell they all appreciated me.

What was the best advice you got?
I think what Simon said to me, which was, ”You had a lot of courage. You’re a really brave guy on the show.” I’m going to take that with me, because I know if I can stand up to Simon I can stand up to anyone.

Let’s talk about the whole sex-symbol thing, Kevin.
The sex-symbol thing… In all honesty, it was like a joke. I was just trying to be funny and lighten the mood. People sometimes can’t tell when I’m serious or joking, and that was me joking when I said I was a sex symbol. I consider myself a pretty funny guy.

But a few weeks ago those young girls came up on stage and they were clearly smitten. So maybe it’s not such a joke?
I did have the little-girl vote. That was very cute and very nice.

And, like Simon said, the old-women vote.
Yeah, old women and little women. All the ones I don’t want. People come up to me and introduce themselves all the time now. There have been a few young ladies who’ve come up to me. It’s not a bad deal. I’m going to be swatting women left and right now. They’re going to be lunging at me. No — kidding.

During the Ford commercial this week, you seemed to be the star with the ladies.
It was a bit uncomfortable, being in all that sand. It was actually on this raised board, and they propped me up and I had to hold myself like that for 20 minutes. But when all the attractive model girls came over, it was all worth it.

Okay, I have to ask because you know people are wondering: Are you taken?
I do not have a girlfriend. I had a girlfriend but I no longer have a girlfriend. I’m available.

Since you’re only 16, I imagine you had to go to school while the rest of the contestants were out having fun?
We did schooling, usually when everyone else was getting their makeup done. It was me and two beautiful ladies, Lisa Tucker and Paris Bennett. It was actually fun. We’d get our work done but we just had a blast.

Was that when Paris came up with your nickname, ”Chicken Little”?
Actually, that was during Hollywood week. She said, ”You look like Chicken Little!” and would yell out ”Chicken Little!” from across the room. And then all the remaining contestants, all 108 of them from Hollywood week, knew me as Chicken Little. The show asked me if I was okay with the comparison and if they could use it on the air and I said, ”Go for it. Let’s make good TV.” The show would never take advantage of me. All the gangsta stuff, the sex-symbol stuff, the Chicken Little stuff — a lot of it was my idea.

Now that you’ve gotten to know all the contestants, you must be a fan. Who do you look forward to hearing?
As corny as it sounds, just about everybody. When Elliot sings, it’s like, ”Whoa. That’s awesome.” When Chris does his rocker thing, that’s great. Mandisa? Great. Everybody brought something so different.

Are you planning on voting for the rest of the show?
Yeah, I can vote now and I plan on voting. For whom I vote I will keep confidential, but I’ve got a certain someone in mind.

Who did you connect to more: Stevie Wonder or Barry Manilow?
I connected with both of them. They’re both complete legends. I was intimidated at first, but they both told me to relax, and once I was relaxed I was able to get down to business. Those are two people who’ve made no mistakes in their careers, and I hope I’ll be like that.

Speaking of your career, are you going to pursue singing now?
I definitely plan on pursuing the entertainment business. I was a little leery about the whole Hollywood thing when I was a young kid. I didn’t know if I would fit into that. But doing all this press, it’s really exciting. I think I do okay with it. I’d like to pursue television, maybe movies, and definitely music.

On your bio on the Idol website, it says you want to be a journalist.
That’s on the other end of what I want to do. I would love to pursue journalism. I love sports broadcasting. I would love to call the Super Bowl or the World Series someday.

Okay, journalist, what question have I forgotten to ask you?
I need to do my research on the subject and I’ll get back to you.

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American Idol

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