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'American Idol' Finalist Kristen O'Connor on Her Elimination: It Wasn't My Best

"I'm going to look back and be proud of it but it wasn't what I was hoping for," the finalist tells THR in a post-show interview.

Kristen O'Connor P
Michael Becker / Fox

On Wednesday night, the top 13 American Idol contestants of season 13 were unanimous in telling The Hollywood Reporter that they were not looking forward to the next 24 hours. They all knew that one person in their tight circle was going home on Thursday night even if they didn’t know exactly who it was going to be. But what about the finalist who did exit the show? Kristen O’Connor sat down with THR shortly after her elimination and admitted she was not surprised.

“After my performance last night, I had an idea,” she said candidly. “My performance needed to be the best I’ve ever given and unfortunately it wasn’t. I’m going to look back and be proud of it but it wasn’t what I was hoping for. I wanted to blow everyone away.

“When the judges commented, they gave me some good and some bad critiques. Because I was a wild card, I needed them to tell me it was the best they had ever heard. Since that didn’t happen, I knew there was a chance I was going home. I expected to be in the bottom three and I was praying I wasn’t at the very bottom.”

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After Ryan Seacrest announced her name, O’Connor sang her “save” song. She had already chosen Adele’s “Turning Tables.” She explains, “I had to sing something I had already sung.” O’Connor could have sung Katy Perry’s “Unconditionally” but she had performed it twice, during Hollywood Week and on Wild Card night. Then there was Kelly Clarkson’s “Beautiful Disaster” from the night before. “If I was going to go out, I wanted it to be with ‘Turning Tables.’ Adele is a legend and I’m connected to the song. I love it.”

Even while singing for her life, O’Connor had had a feeling what the outcome would be. “I didn’t expect the judges to use the save in the first round of the finals. That never happens.”

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Although she hadn’t had much time to think about the future by the time she talked to THR, O’Connor responded immediately when asked what was next for her. “What’s most important to me is to continue singing. I’d love to make an album and tour, but I love acting and I love musicals. If those doors opened up, I’d definitely take advantage. I love this industry and I’m really excited to see where it takes me.”

Earlier in the day, O’Connor had a private conversation with season 12 winner Candice Glover, back in the studio to perform her new single “Cried” on the results show. “We were getting our hair done together, so we talked for a while,” says O’Connor. “She gave me some really good advice on songs for the upcoming weeks. She said I remind her so much of Christina Aguilera, which is such a compliment. She gave me some really good advice. If I had continued on the show I was going to follow it. She said when she was on the show, people pushed her to sing certain songs. She told me, 'You need to go with your gut.' That’s some of the best advice that I’m going to take away from this whole experience. It’s so true, the best performances are when you’re being yourself and when you go with your heart.”

Twitter: @Idol_Worship