This season's ''Idol'' cowboy, Bucky Covington, talks to Michael Slezak about his too-little-too-late backstory, his scrape with the law, why we might see his twin next season, and more

After last week’s shocking elimination of early front-runner Mandisa, this week’s American Idol results show proved a tad less suspenseful. readers overwhelmingly predicted in our weekly poll that either Ace Young (43%) or Bucky Covington (40%) would get the boot — and indeed, it was the latter singer who received the lowest number of viewer votes (with Ace landing alongside him in the bottom three). Still, while surprises were in short supply on the Idol stage Wednesday night, Bucky more than made up for it in a one-on-one interview with on Thursday afternoon. So if you’re curious about the secret to Bucky’s laid-back demeanor, the truth about his 1998 run-in with the law, or what possessed him to emulate Jessica Simpson’s hairstyle during Stevie Wonder week, then by all means, read on.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Last night Simon said he thought it would be Ace going home, and prior to this week, he’s been pretty accurate in his predictions. Did you feel at that point like you’d be surviving another week?
BUCKY COVINGTON A lot of people had come up and said they thought it might be [Ace]. But you know, votes come in. Yeah, maybe I felt a little bit better when Simon said that, but not really. Either it was gonna be me or it was gonna be him or it was gonna be Elliott. I was cool with it, and I felt like I pulled out on a good note. I’d rather pull out on a song I did pretty good on than a song I did awful on.

Throughout the season, you came across as one of the most laid-back Idol contestants ever, like you were just up there having a good time in spite of the pressure-cooker situation. Are you really as relaxed as you seem?
Oh, yeah. I learned two words a long time ago that help out a lot: ”Screw it.” If something’s bothering you, don’t dwell on it. Just let it go. Worrying ain’t gonna do nothing but make it worse. I don’t get stressed out. At all. Ever. [Laughs] It takes up too much time. I’d rather laugh and have fun.

Did that attitude help you when it came time for the judges’ comments?
Of course, I was able to write ’em off if I didn’t like ’em. When they said something that I could work with, I definitely worked with it. But if you just want to try to be mean to me or whatever, I just write it off. You’re just trying to sell a TV show. I know that, and you know that.

I know this week Court TV reported the news about you and your identical twin brother, Rocky, having a run-in with the law back in 1998, where you had been arrested for impersonating him at the scene of a car accident he had while driving with a suspended license. I know it was relatively innocuous in terms of Idol scandal, but do you think that hurt you in any way?
I’d like to say no, it didn’t hurt me. But I did get voted off, so it very may well have. I’d hope not, over a little silly car accident thing. It’s just a shame they had to bring something like that up from eight years ago.

Well, with the show being the phenomenon it is, I guess it was inevitable.
If they’re looking for dirt on me and all they found was a car accident in 1998, they’re not looking hard enough. [Laughs.]

Want to come clean with anything right now?
I ain’t really got no dirt on me — or I was good at getting away with it.

So people still need to keep digging.
Exactly — I’m not going to give it to you.

So while we’re talking about your twin brother, any reason we didn’t see Rocky audition with you, when this season we saw so many other sets of twins try out together?
I didn’t want to come in with a gimmick, a bad story about my family, or ”I’m a twin.” People use all different stories to get publicity right off the bat. Hey, it’s a good idea — get it how you can get it — but it’s just not what I wanted to do. My brother actually wanted to try out together, but I didn’t want the whole twin gimmick.

Do you think he’ll audition next year?
Yes. I think he’ll actually make [the age limit] by one month. Hopefully he’ll get practiced up and maybe go further than I did.

It’s interesting you mention other people had family stories or twins or whatnot. We didn’t really get to know much about you personally till later in the competition. The first time they showed your wife in the audience, I said, ”Hey! Bucky’s married?” Do you think that hurt you at all, that we didn’t find out a lot about your backstory?
I’m sure it hurt me. I’m sure it hurt me a great deal. A lot of contestants, people started finding out who they were as soon as the show came on. By the time they started showing me, I had to change a lot of people’s minds who were already full-fledged fans of someone else. That makes it a little tougher for me to compete against.

Did you ever surf the Web looking at different message boards and fan sites to find out what viewers were thinking? And how did you deal with the criticism there?
As far as my support base, the numbers are huge and there’s nobody mean. Everybody says something nice. But then some people just hate my guts. Which is cool. As long as you vote for somebody. You ain’t got to like me. I think there are better ways to word it. If you worded it nicer, you’d probably be taken more seriously. But if you’re writing something just to be mean, everybody sees that: You’re just trying to be rude. It kills you a little bit, but thank God people are different. If not, we’d all live in the same place and listen to the same music. And it’d get real crowded, y’know?

Next page: The song — and hairdo — Bucky regrets

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American Idol

Ryan Seacrest hosts as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan guide aspiring singers on their way to superstardom.

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