How does James Durbin feel about his unexpected fourth place exit on American Idol? “Sad, relieved, excited, not disappointed at all,” Durbin told EW backstage about 90 minutes after the results show was over. He added, with a chuckle, “Man, only nine other people can say they got fourth place on American Idol. That’s a great way to look at it.”

While he said he felt “strange” when he got up Thursday morning, as if he may go home, he has no regrets about his performances of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” and “Love Potion No. 9” by songwriters Leiber & Stoller. Instead, Durbin had another surprise fourth place Idol finisher on his mind. “I know that when people think someone’s safe, you know, they’ll vote for who they think’s in jeopardy so that everyone’s equal,” he said. “But it ends up not working out that way. You get pushed to the bottom. That’s what happened with Chris Daughtry.”

As for James’ biggest accomplishment on the show, that’s easy: “I’m so proud that I was able to bring a voice to metal, you know, to a ‘dying genre.'” He had hoped, in fact, to return to his metal roots for Top 3 week with the song “Rainbow in the Dark” by Ronnie James Dio. And now? “The ball’s in my court. I’ve just got to run with it.”

Check out the full interview below, for James’ reaction to having to sing his swan song in front of his fiancée Heidi, and what the judges had to say to him after the show:

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