‘American Idol’ Castoff Haeley Vaughn Says Miley Cyrus Is An ‘Icon’

'I'm a really big fan of Disney and Disney Channel, so hopefully there's something there that I can work on,' she says.

Haeley Vaughn’s smile was infectious, but her uneven singing left the “American Idol” judges (and fans) frustrated.

After her shaky performance of Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb,” Vaughn was eliminated Thursday, along with Jermaine Sellers , John Park and Michelle Delamor . Will the 16-year-old’s country/pop dreams still come true? We talked to the high-schooler from Fort Collins, Colorado, on Friday (March 5) to talk about that and more.

Q: What did you think when Kara suggested you take a year to strengthen your vocal skills?

A: I kind of agreed with her. I think that more experience and more time working on my vocals would be good. I think experience is always better, especially since I’m only 16 and this is the first big thing that I’ve done ever. I’ve never performed in front of millions of people before; I’ve never even performed in front of 100. I think it’s always good to get more experience and work on the things that I need to work on.

Q: The contestants seem to be particularly nervous this year. Is the anxiety level really high?

A: The first week was really tough. We were all super nervous and scared and worried about our song choice. The first week, we were all just freaking out and trying to pick the right songs and make sure America would like them. Nerves are always gonna play a huge factor in what we do on the show.

Q: Why didn’t you sing any country songs during your first two semifinal performances?

A: The songs I chose, I made them kind of pop/country. I wanted to not have to sing Martina McBride every week just because I wanted to be a country artist. When Carrie Underwood was on her season, she didn’t sing only country songs. She was very versatile, and she chose songs of a different genre and she made them fit her country style. And that was my whole thing that I did too.

Q: Do you think the judges have been particularly rough this year?

A: Simon was definitely really harsh this season. But, I mean, he has reason to be. … Sometimes he should soften the blow a little bit, but that’s Simon Cowell. He’s been like that for nine years.

Q: Are you going to go back to school or focus on your career?

A: I’m definitely gonna keep working on my career. I’m gonna keep singing. Hopefully, doors will open up for me. I’m a really big fan of Disney and Disney Channel, so hopefully there’s something there that I can work on. I’m just gonna keep working on my career and doing what I love to do.

Q: What kind of career do you see yourself having?

A: Miley Cyrus is one of my icons. Oh my gosh, I love her…. Country music is definitely my genre, pop/country. And playing my guitar is awesome. Yeah, if I were given the chance to do that, I would definitely jump on it.

Q: Have you had a chance to talk to any “American Idol” alumni to get advice?

A: I talked to Allison [Iraheta] for a bit when she came and she performed the first week. And she just told me to stay true to who I am and keep doing my thing and keep doing one genre of music and just be really strong and confident.

Were you sad to see Haeley go? Do you think she should have performed some more country songs? Let us know below!

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