Paige Miles Says She Got 'Mixed Messages' On 'American Idol'

'The best thing to do, really, is just do yourself,' she says.

Most "American Idol" fans would agree that Paige Miles made it farther in the competition than anyone could have predicted. Not only was she virtually nonexistent on the show before being named to the top 24, she also got week after week of criticism from the judges for not living up to her potential. On top of that, she struggled with laryngitis over the past two weeks.

But, against all odds (sorry!), she soldiered through to the top 11, unfortunately just missing the cut for this summer's Idols Live! Tour. Her version of the oft-covered "Against All Odds" by Phil Collins was lambasted by the judges, and voters agreed, sending her packing during Wednesday's results show.

We caught up with the bubbly schoolteacher on Thursday (March 25) to talk about the judges' save being yanked from her before she even sang and what's next in her career.

Q: Were you upset that the judges took away the save before you sang during the results show? Did that hurt?

A: Yes, it did. I initially thought the save was something that even if they're not going to use it, you'd get the opportunity to at least sing for it, and then they make their decision. But for the statement to be made before I opened my mouth, I was pretty bummed.

Q: How much power do you think the judges have over voters?

A: The judges obviously have a certain amount of power over the voting public, but it also comes down to the performer delivering a good, solid performance. Tuesday night definitely wasn't my best, and they ripped me for it. So it can go both ways, 'cause sometimes, [voters will] back up the person that the judges ripped apart if they feel that that person really delivered, but you never really know how America's gonna vote.

Q: Did you and your fellow contestants discuss how to please the judges?

A: Yeah, the best thing to do, really, is just do yourself and do what makes you most comfortable, because the judges can give mixed messages.

Q: A lot of critics said Miley Cyrus was too young to be a mentor on "American Idol." How do you think she did coaching the contestants?

A: I think Miley did a great job. I mean, I'm 24, so I'm older than her, but talking with her, her age didn't come across at all. I mean, I was just speaking to her as someone else with experience doing exactly what I would like to do, so she was great.

Q: Are you able to still sing with laryngitis? Because you sounded great last night, but your voice sounds really rough this morning.

A: Yeah, it was bad last night [too]. It wasn't as bad as it is now. I've been struggling with laryngitis for over three weeks now. I have swollen vocal cords and there's a lot of inflammation, and with the singing and rehearsing as much as we do, I have very little time for it to heal, so it would basically get a little bit better, [and] then I would have to sing again and it would get worse again. So it's tough when you're in a singing competition and you have no voice. That was a bummer, and that affected my song choice at times, because I would kind of stay away from what I would typically do, like big, belty tunes like [Free's] "All Right Now," which I love and I'm super comfortable at, and I would kind of shy away and try to do something smaller in efforts to not ... do something where I could possibly damage them.

Q: Did you realize how many times "Against All Odds" had been sung on "Idol," and did that affect your decision to sing it?

A: Actually I hadn't realized how many times it had been done. I was in rehearsals last week and was just trying to find a slower song that I wouldn't have to stress vocally too much over, because my vocal cords were pretty much trashed, and I didn't want to do anything too uptempo and crazy, just really trying to take care of my vocal cords if I were to keep going, but I probably should have just picked something I was super comfortable with, which is something like "All Right Now," and just gone for it, but you live and you learn, and I was trying to make a decision for me and my health.

Q: Do you feel that the lack of screen time before the semifinals hurt you?

A: Well, early on, a lot of the kids were able to build a fanbase, whereas I wasn't able to. But still, what you come out there and do on the stage really sets the tone, and if I would have delivered the way I know I could have, maybe I would still be around. So, yes and no.

Q: What did you think about Simon's comment right off the bat that you had the best voice in the competition?

A: I thought it was a pretty awesome comment, so I was happy he said it. I mean, a lot of people didn't know anything about me, they hadn't heard me at all ... so it was nice to hear him say that.

Q: Are there any artists who inspire you or you'd like to model your career after?

A: I wouldn't say necessarily model my career after, 'cause I think what makes an artist great and individual is how their career has kind of ... formed its own shape, which makes them stand out. But I really admire Christina Aguilera. She's a beautiful woman, and she has an amazing voice. She's kind of followed her own drum, which I also really like. She doesn't put out an album every year. She takes her time, and she makes artwork out of her albums. I really admire that about her.

Q: In an interview package, you revealed that coloring relaxes you before a performance. Does that come from being around kids so much?

A: Yeah. We would do it in class, and it was a way to kind of calm down the room. "Idol" is very high-stress and a lot of tension and anxiety, so people usually can't find a way to get their nerves down. If you just open up a coloring book and start coloring, you end up being kind of focused on what you're doing, and it's just a way to relax. Some people do yoga, some meditate, and I like to just whip out a box of crayons and color. [Laughs.] So it's a little cheesy, I know, but it works.

Q: It sounds relaxing!

A: It really is. I can't draw to save my life, but I can color. I can stay in the lines.

Were you sad to see Paige go home? Did you think it was unfair of the judges to take the save away from her before she had the chance to sing? Let us know in the comments!

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