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March 13, 2008
Idol Chatter: David exits in style


So there's really no hard feelings from "American Idol" contestant David Hernandez (pictured with host Ryan Seacrest), who was eliminated Wednesday night.

The 24-year-old, from Glendale, Ariz., put up with his share of media scrutiny (over his stripper past) and judges' jibes (mostly from Simon Cowell) during his stint from auditioner to a member of the elite Top 12.

But, during a conference call with reporters on Thursday, he was absolutely poised - and oh-so charming. Here's some of what he had to say:

Q: In retrospect, was the Lennon/McCartney songbook tougher than you thought? And, because it's the theme again next week, which song would you have wanted to perform?
A: I've been pretty consistent with my R&B style, and I think I did the best I could. I chose a more upbeat song ("I Saw Her Standing There"). If I were still on the show, I hoped to sing "Yesterday," which would have been great. It's such an amazing song to tackle.

Q: Was the media attention on your past a distraction, and were the "Idol" folks aware of it from the get-go?
A: I did a good job of blocking it out, staying away from the Internet and TV. If this is the worst thing that could happen, I'll be OK. I was still able to perform in front of 35 million people. If "Idol" wasn't comfortable, I wouldn't have been on the show. I'm not ashamed of my past, but the media can be vicious. I'm just looking forward to moving on.

Q: When Ryan said you would be leaving, you said "Wow!" Were you totally taken aback that you were eliminated? Did you feel it was Kristy Lee Cook's time to go?
A: I was genuinely shocked. I didn't think I was going to go home. I know what the judges said about my vocals, and I thought I would be in the bottom three. But I didn't feel like I deserved to go home. The competition is so intense, and all the contestants can sing. Nobody is safe. Vocals are important, and song selection is very, very important.

Q:What did you and Kristy say to each other afterward?
A: Kristy is a really talented girl. We'll stay in touch. Maybe we'll even do a collaboration in the future.

Q: How did you end up singing "I Saw Her Standing There?" Was it your first choice, and how did the arrangement come about?
A: I wanted to sing "Let It Be," but it was gone (Brooke White sang it) when it was my turn to pick. But I'm happy with what I chose. It was fair. We had 25 songs to choose from. We put in our top three choices, and if there's a tie, we draw out of a hat. You'd be surprised. We (the contestants) have a lot of say in the arrangement. We have mentors to help us stay true to the song. I added some breaks in the beginning and changed up the verse. But we pay respect to the artist who did it. We sit down with a piano player and vocal coach for serveral rehearsals and work together.

Q: What have you learned so far about the entertainment business? What do like most/least?
A: It's been a roller-coaster ride. You go from being anonymous to being, well, famous. But I've gained a deeper respect for myself and the music business, and a newfound confidence in myself as a performer. In this industry, you definitely have to have thick skin. I won't miss the paparazzi. I tried to go to the store the other day, and I had to have security go with me! I've also learned that all is fair in love, war and entertainment. I've only seen the tip of the iceberg.

Q: What does the future hold? You're obviously not going back to the pizza bistro.
A: Yes, I'm unemployed. I'm shopping around a record deal and would love to have something out in a year. I'm doing the "Ellen" show and "Today." But...I really want to focus on writing my own songs. Singing, thank God, is something I've been blessed with.

Q: Which contestant(s) were you closest to? Are you pulling for anyone?
A: Chikezie and I were roommates until the end. We were best friends, and we would listen and critique each other. We were both pegged as R&B singers, but Chikezie is more soulful. I'll vote for everybody or not at all. They're so talented.

Q: What are you going to do first - once you get a break?
A: Eat pork-flavored Ramen noodles! I want to go to my mom's house (in Glendale), lay on her couch with her cats and watch nonsense TV. I'm staying away from reality shows for a while. I need a break. I'll probably watch reruns of "Friends."

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