American Idol Joshua Ledet
Credit: Michael Becker/Fox

Joshua Ledet woke up Thursday morning (a.k.a. American Idol elimination day) and something felt off. The “weird vibe” continued throughout the day and made the 20-year-old preacher’s son from Westlake, La. feel the end was near.

“I just didn’t feel right today, so I wasn’t surprised that Ryan didn’t say my name,” he told EW in the press tent after the show. “I don’t think anything went wrong, really. I liked my songs last night, and I was happy with my performances. But everyone kept saying it could go any way and that it was a close race, so I wasn’t surprised.”

It certainly seemed, judging from the loud, passionate outpouring of booing, that a good portion of the studio audience was surprised, or at least disappointed, to see Ledet get the axe. Even Phillip Phillips grabbed the microphone after Ledet belted out the closing number to proclaim, “If that’s not singing, I don’t know what is.”

As for Ledet, he seems to have accepted the elimination with class and grace. “I felt relieved,” he said after the show. “A lot of pressure was off me. I wasn’t upset about it because I was super excited for Phillip and Jessica. They were great and they have huge fan bases. They got good comments from the judges and Jimmy. They’re talented and deserve it like everybody else. I’m excited to be able to vote for both of them next week.”

So if he expected not to make the top two and felt his competition deserved it, why the waterworks? “Honestly I didn’t think I was going to cry. I felt good about the whole situation,” he said. “But when people come up to comfort you, the tears start coming. Phillip told me I was one of the greatest singers he has ever heard, not to give it up, and to be true to myself. Jennifer told me to keep my head up and that I was only going to go further from here. With all their support, I lost it a little bit.”

Ledet, who will not miss the early-morning call times associated with being in the top 12, also knows the Idol experience was enough to get him out of his beloved small town, get his vocal skills and showmanship noticed, and kick-start his dream. “You don’t have to win to go on to have a successful career,” he said. “Look at Adam Lambert or Jennifer Hudson.”

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