Thursday may have been "Paul Jolley Day" in his hometown of Dresden, Tennessee, but it definitely wasn't his night: Jolley was sent packing on "American Idol," after a sleepy performance of the Beatles' Eleanor Rigby" that the judges dubbed "bland and forgettable."

Needless to say, Jolley didn't quite agree with "that assessment, and backstage, after learning he'd been voted off "Idol," he let MTV News know it.

"I feel great. I do not regret my song choice at all ... I love the lyric, and if people really listened to my song when I sang, then they would understand why I chose it," Jolley said, "Because everyone's felt that alone feeling, and it's a great song."

Jolley also took umbrage with the judges criticisms that he failed to connect with the song on an emotional level ... or that they failed to feel his performance. Because even though he might not have shown it outwardly, he said the connection was most definitely, deeply there.

"It did throw me off a little bit, when [the judges] did not connect with me, because I was so connected to that song. And you know, they don't have to connect with me, because the audience connects with me, and that's what matters," Jolley said. "Everybody has their moments where you can't tell if they're connected in their face, but it's all mental, and in their heart. So the whole physical thing they go by all the time, it's nothing, because I know what's in my heart, and I know what I've done, and I feel so good about that performance."

And though he might not have had some issues with the "Idol" judges, Jolley said he's eternally grateful to at least one of them — Keith Urban — for giving him the kind of critiques an artist needs to grow. Which he plans to continue doing, even if his time on the show has come to an end.

"[Keith's] always been my idol, but ... everything he said was something I could take and grow from; he didn't just tell me 'Good job, bad job,' he'd give me things that I could learn from," Jolley said. "And that's what 'American Idol' is about, it's a stepping stone, a learning experience, and I've loved it, and I'm still growing, and I'm going to stick around."

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