"American Idol" finalist Joshua Ledet won't be taking anyone to church during this season's finale next week, leaving bluesy rocker Phillip Phillips and budding diva Jessica Sanchez to compete for the title.
The 20-year-old powerhouse received a record number of standing ovations from the panel and has been proclaimed as one of the best contestants in the history of the show. So, coming in third place with the lowest total of the 90 million votes cast this week might come as a shock to some, but Ledet says it was more like a relief.
"I just felt relief," the soulful singer told MTV News backstage after the show. "As soon as they said Phillip was going on, I felt a lot of pressure came off of me and I was — I'm not going to say I was happy — but it sucks having a lot of pressure on you, knowing that you have to do this and that and this and that. But when they said I wasn't going on, I was just like, 'OK. Now I can get this song out of the way and then go home and go to sleep or do something fun.' "
But make no mistake: It wasn't just about getting his farewell song out of the way. After belting out "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" by James Brown, the Louisiana native claims he was so overwhelmed, he couldn't fully recall what the judges were saying to him when they came to console him after the show.
"I honestly don't remember what they were saying because I think I was so emotional," the preacher's son explained. "I just remember Jennifer [Lopez] telling me never to give up and that my career is going to go higher from here on out and to just keep believing in myself.
"Definitely, it gives me a lot of hope seeing Jennifer Hudson and Adam Lambert and Katharine McPhee, Chris Daughtry. All of these people that didn't win have had a lot of huge careers, so hopefully that can happen for me."
That being said, Ledet's career probably could take off if Jimmy Iovine has anything to do with it. For weeks, the show's music mentor has continuously hinted at signing the singer, even claiming to know the exact type of album he should make — a bit ironic, considering the Interscope head admitted wrongdoing by picking Mary J. Blige's "No More Drama" for the gospel sensation to perform before being voted off. Thankfully, though, Ledet has no regrets.
"I don't regret any performance that I've done on the show," Ledet said. "People can say one thing, but it's what I feel in my heart and how I feel about something. So, I don't think I'll let people tell me what to do as a person if it's not true to me in my heart.
"I definitely did like the 'No More Drama' song," he added. "It's not a lot of melody, but I don't think it's a competition song. It's just one of those great songs that you can perform at the Grammys or something."
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