Devin Velez Knew ‘American Idol’ Time Was Up

'Just the fact that America was voting for me, that's crazy!' Velez says about his time on the show.

Sometimes, even when you do everything right, things can still go all wrong. That’s the lesson “American Idol” finalist Devin Velez learned on Thursday night when he became the latest male contestant 
 to exit the stage.

“There’s a lot of different emotions, you know I’m still really excited,” Velez, 18, told MTV News shortly after the judges declined to use their save to keep him in the mix. “Yeah, I’m hurt, but I like to think of the positive. It’s been a great journey. It’s been awesome. I was able to live my dream onstage, and have people vote. Just the fact that America was voting for me, that’s crazy!”

The Chicago singer who was a favorite of Mariah Carey’s for his buttery voice and deft blending of Spanish and English vocals, was sent packing after a reported 26 million votes were cast. He was in the bottom three for two weeks running and was joined on Thursday by the other remaining men, Lazaro Arbos and Burnell Taylor.

Velez was gracious in defeat, but in a break from the usual sunshiny talk that eliminated “Idol” contestants serve up in exit interviews, he was also refreshingly honest about his disappointment.

“It still hurts. I’m really going to miss the people that I was with,” he said. “Not so much the competition, because competitions sometimes they get nasty. And I have to say that I’ve been thankful that we weren’t really rough with each other, but it’s been a really great experience.”

He also talked some real talk about what likely took him down. Like his fellow male contestants, Velez was dinged for a hot mess of a performance of the Four Tops’ “I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch),” which prompted mentor Jimmy Iovine to dub them “Wrong Direction.”

Devin noted that it was not him who forgot his lyrics (for the record, it was Arbos), but he knew the poor showing hurt his chances. “I did still know that out of us three if there was one to go home it was me,” he said. “Just fanbase-wise. I have the most amazing fans, but there’s not that many yet. The other two they had a huge fanbase, and it’s good.”

The upside is that he still gets to come back for the finale and this summer’s tour and, of course, this is not truly a goodbye. “In the end everyone has to go home except one and eighth place was just my turn,” he said. “Just the fact that I was eighth place out of all the people that auditioned, it’s a great achievement. It’s a great accomplishment and I’m really satisfied.”

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