Katelyn Epperly Had 'Pride Issues' With Being On 'American Idol'

'A talent competition is not necessarily my thing,' she says.

Katelyn Epperly finally had a breakout "American Idol" performance last week with Coldplay's "The Scientist," even though the judges didn't see eye-to-eye on it. But the whole panel agreed that her take on Carole King's "I Feel the Earth Move" didn't live up to her potential.

Even so, Epperly wasn't expected to get the boot on Thursday, but such was the theme of the shocking results night, when Lilly Scott, Alex Lambert and Todrick Hall were also sent packing. We caught up with the singer/songwriter to talk about her closest "Idol" allies, her next move and more.

Q: Did you feel that the judges were especially hard on you this season?

A: They were definitely more critical towards me. I'm not sure if it's possibly because I've been performing for so long. Maybe they expected more out of me than what I was giving them. But I started off on a pretty strong note, so maybe I didn't live up to their expectations week by week.

Q: Did you sing "I Feel the Earth Move" to compensate for Simon's "corny" comments the week before?

A: I totally did. I definitely was trying to find a song that would portray me as an artist, which is difficult for a singer/songwriter in this competition, because first of all, I don't listen to mainstream music, and second of all, I don't typically perform covers. So I kind of scrambled around last-minute trying to do something. I brought out the Wurlitzer keyboard. I wanted to do something edgier, and it didn't work out for me, but I definitely don't regret doing it, because I love that era.

Q: You and Lilly seemed especially emotional during the results show. Why was that?

A: Lilly and I have gotten really close, and from the start, we've flocked together. Crystal [Bowersox] too. I don't typically hang out with girls very often, so this was a rare thing for all three of us, actually. To really truly have female friends and to get along so well and to be so supportive of one another and turning and seeing them there — for me, it wasn't over. This is sort of a platform in my career. I wasn't so sad about that; I was sad to see them, and I'm gonna say it was a pretty big disappointment to me to see Lilly go home, because if I were to be at home watching that show, she would, by far, over all the other girls, not be the one going home.

Q: What made you choose "The Scientist" last week?

A: It's definitely a song that comes to mind when I think about anything hard I've had to do, any sort of loss. It's a very touching, riveting song. I covered it a lot this summer and coped with a lot of things that I was going through. This is a song that is sad but also hopeful. When they said it was too slow, that was OK with me. I was waiting for that comment. I wanted to do it slow. I wanted to focus on the lyrics of the song. The song just cries, and I think I portrayed it, despite what the judges might have thought.

Q: Are you especially rooting for anyone now that you're off the show?

A: I wish them all well, because I've gotten to know them all, and everyone's worked so hard. Honestly, from the start, Crystal has been a very true, true friend to me and an honest person. And when she sings, it comes from the heart, and I know you've watched her. It's just natural for her, and she totally deserves it. I'm going to be pushing for her all the way.

Q: Was it comforting to you for there to be so many other singer/songwriters in the competition this season?

A: I think that's very important. That's actually what made me so much more OK with being on the show, because I did have some pride issues with it at first, because a talent competition is not necessarily my thing. I'm the kind of person who just likes to sing and dance and spend time with music instead of making it something competitive. I've seen so many singer/songwriters this year who really are credible and who have been working at it their whole lives and truly deserve it. They didn't just roll out of bed one day and want to be on a TV show and have an OK voice and a pretty face. So it was really fun to sit around backstage while we were rehearsing. We got to just jam out together. We'd all pass around the guitar and sing. It was awesome.

Q: Would you have liked to sing your original songs on the show, if that were an option?

A: That's a tough one. It would be really awesome because I feel like people like Lilly, Crystal and I and others, we would definitely excel in that kind of category. At the same time, it is a show where you get judged. It's really hard, because original music, especially the music I write, is filled with a lot of emotion and it's based on personal experiences, and I think it would be hard for me to get up in front of four people and for them to tell me my personal experiences are invalid and my song that I wrote when I was going through a hard time wasn't good enough. So its mixed and matched, but I definitely think it would be a cool twist to bring to a show and really bring to light some of those true musicians.

Q: What's next? Will you head back to Iowa?

A: I am planning on going back for now, since I'm flat broke. [Laughs.] I gotta go back to Des Moines and start working and continue to pursue recording and writing music with all sorts of different artists. The band called Lovedrug is a band I've been listening to since I was real young. I'm gonna get together with them and hopefully write some music with them as well as other artists. Just getting back in the studio and getting back to what I truly love to do.

Were you sad to see Katelyn go? Will you listen to her post-"Idol" music? Let us know!

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