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The 17-year-old singer from San Jose, Calif., persevered through more rounds of auditions, another grueling week in Hollywood, and the top 24, before he was cut and then saved once more by Tyler.
When he wound up in the bottom three on Thursday’s results show, Brackensick — who auditioned for season 10 but went much further during the 11th cycle — had a gut feeling it was over for him.
“Because I was a wild card, I just think, I don’t need to be saved again,” he told reporters in a conference call Friday. “This is my second chance from last year, so it’s my second chance on Idol, and then I got a second chance with the wild card. You only get so many second chances in life. You just need to make good of what you have now.”
Brackensick was officially axed from the competition following his reprisal of Stevie Wonder‘s “Master Blaster” in a last-chance effort to coax judges into using their “save” privilege. Jennifer Lopez pleaded with co-judges Tyler and Randy Jackson to keep him on the show but she was out-voted.
“I love our judges. What you see on TV is what you get off TV,” said Brackensick, calling the trio supportive of him from the very beginning.
He added that he wasn’t upset about Interscope Geffen A&M head Jimmy Iovine’s criticism, tactfully noting that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. “It drove me harder to prove him wrong,” he said. “In the end, he helped me.”
On Wednesday’s performance show, celebrity guest mentor Gwen Stefani observed that Brackensick “looked worried” while performing. In response, Brackensick described his oft-pained facial expressions as “waiting for acceptance.”
“I wanted to leave on a happy note, on something fun. I didn’t want to leave on something sad,” he said of his decision to reprise “Master Blaster.”
Throughout the season, Brackensick made bold musical choices, from Earth Wind & Fire to a song by his own personal idol, Eric Benet. A respect for older music is driving his passion to bring a retro vibe on his as-yet-unplanned debut album.
“I want to be an R&B artist: true R&B soul, like the falsetto and the old-school kind of stuff,” he said. “I want to bring that back a lot because I think music is really lacking that, and people just need to know there are other things. I want to bring back instruments because people don’t really use them that much now. Everything is computers.:
He added: “It’s not that I don’t like music nowadays — I love music nowadays — I just want people to know that there’s other things out there.”
The teen said he is looking forward to being a “kid,” even if it’s just for a short while. He’ll attend his high school prom on April 21, saying that before Idol, he wouldn’t have summoned the nerve to go to a big dance. After all, he noted, he was never the Homecoming King.
“Idol really brought the confidence out of me, because at the previous dances I worked as a coat-taker or a ticket taker and stuff like that,” he said. “I feel comfortable enough to just go to a prom and enjoy it. I’m glad I get to enjoy life as a kid, you know, just the little things as a kid, and then get to enjoy the high life of Idol. So I guess I get the best of both worlds.”
Brackensick, who also shared that his long hair is naturally curly (he just uses a little leave-in conditioner and it’s good to go), said he’s excited for the upcoming weeks, personally and professionally, which include a round of interviews and television appearances, his aforementioned prom, some private homeschooling as he completes his school year, rehearsals for Idol‘s May finale and then the summer tour. He is also hoping to snap up a record deal, acting or perhaps some modeling work.
“I want to be exhausted the day I die,” he said.
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