Elliott Yamin: ''I felt the opposite of bitter.'' The ''Idol'' second-runner-up tells Jessica Shaw about his emotional journey on the show, his future R&B plans, and his drastic makeover

You may be thrilled that Taylor and Katharine are the two American Idol finalists, but it’s hard to rejoice that Elliott Yamin was booted off the show last night. Whether you loved him for his brilliant renditions of ”Moody’s Mood for Love” or felt bad for him ’cause of those teeth, it was hard not to feel something for this all-around nice-guy underdog. We at EW.com got over our mourning long enough to ask Elliott a few questions about his impressive run.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Elliott! I am still crying from last night. It was such an emotional end of a show.
ELLIOTT YAMIN: Yeah, I’ve heard quite a bit of that today. It was definitely emotional, but it was awesome. I felt like I could breathe and spread my wings. It was a joyous celebration.

The judges weren’t so into you on Tuesday night and came down especially hard on your final song choice, ”I Believe to My Soul.” Do you regret choosing that song?
No, I don’t. I knew all along people didn’t like it. People with the show didn’t like it because it wasn’t that popular of a song. Everyone from the executive producers to Clive Davis told me I should really consider the song choice I made and just understand it’s not a modern song… but that’s why it was my choice. It’s a fun song to sing. Anytime I get to sing a Donny Hathaway song, I’m happy. The other two songs the judges and Clive Davis chose for me weren’t necessarily songs I would have chosen for myself, but I had to do what had to be done. I did it to the best of my ability. I have no regrets about that. I’m more proud than anything that I followed through with it and made it this far. That I followed through with anything in my life.

Do you normally have follow-through issues?
I’m really ADD-ish. I start one thing and then I start another thing. The first thing I start will never get done or it gets put to the side until it metastasizes into a huge ball of nothingness. I was never as productive as I could have been. I’ve just grown up so much. I’m where I’m supposed to be. Yesterday I felt vindicated. I felt the opposite of bitter, upset, and disappointed. There were all these preconceived notions from people, how they thought I must have been feeling, but I’m just honored. It was a great way to go and a great way to celebrate. Yesterday was just a very celebratory kind of thing. There’s no hard feelings.

Before Ryan Seacrest announced your name, you looked like you knew you’d be heading home.
Yeah, I did. My intuition told me so. Sometimes you get those vibes, and I had that. It’s been a running joke all season long; I’m always the one saying, ”I’ll give you a holler as soon as I get home.” You never know who’s going to vote and how many votes are going to come in. All you can do is hope for the best. I’m always loose. The first few weeks, when we were on the smaller stage, were kind of nerve-wracking. But once we got to the big stage and the Wednesday results show, I learned to be a lot more relaxed. You can’t change the results or dwell on anything. At that time it’s out of your hands. Whatever happens happens — I kind of had that feeling, and it helped me make peace with everything and prepare for the emotions I would go through.

On Tuesday night, Simon basically told you that you would go home but you were a really great guy. Were you feeling more ”Thank you” or ”I hate you”?
No, not ”I hate you” at all. He definitely respects my talent and respects me as a person. I love Simon, man. The conversations we’ve had off camera and behind the scenes have been very positive. He’s a great guy. I don’t think people get to see that, because he has this shtick for the show of being brutally honest. But as up-and-coming new artists, we need to be told the truth. I’ve always been appreciative of that. There’s always going to be some underlying advice somewhere in there.

Plus, you must know that Simon loved you. Early in the season he said you were probably the best male vocalist on any season of the show.
When you can win over someone like that, it’s great. He knows what he likes to hear. He’s got that great ear. The same thing with Randy. Paula is just as sweet as can be.

Sometimes she makes me a little batty, but I was actually moved by her reaction to you getting voted off. Her eyes filled with tears, and she tried to stop her lips from quivering.
I’ve pulled quite a few Paula heartstrings recently. It’s cool to be thought of in that way and to earn the respect of so many people. I never imagined it being this way.

Next page: Elliott on being roommates with Chris, getting calls from dentists, and more…

Episode Recaps

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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