05/22/2008 at 11:00 AM EDT
may not have won American Idol, but he's still in disbelief that he made it as far as he did, he said after Wednesday’s results show. The 17-year-old high school student from Murray, Utah, answered reporters' questions backstage at L.A.'s Nokia Theatre, and talked about what he learned from Idol winner David Cook, what's next ("School is really important," he says), and whether he and Clive Davis cut a deal.
How do you feel now that it's over?
It's a big relief. After last night, I was just like "Oh my gosh, no more getting judged after each performance." Now we just get to do what we love to do without it being viewed as a competition and being judged right after singing. It’s like, "Oh, let me enjoy this for a second."
What's next for you?
I really want to make an album and see how that turns out and if music doesn't go as far as I was hoping it would, then...I still want to complete an education. School is really important, especially after all this ends. It would be nice to make a living off of it but you never know. People can have a few years of performing, touring and making money that way, but then they have to go back to something else afterwards, so you always have to be prepared.
What you learned from David Cook?Cook
, he's like my big brother. I've learned so much. I've looked up to him since the beginning of this. He's just such a great guy — really humble, down to earth and I just feel like I can't believe I'm standing next to him. I'm just like, "I feel honored to be standing next to you, Cook.' That’s what I told him. And I'm just so proud of him and I can't believe that people decided for me to be next to him – of all people!
What has being on American Idol done for you?
I love singing and I love being able to perform whenever I get the chance...I just love what I do and what this competition has done for me. I really appreciate it and all the fans who have allowed me to make it this far...I can't believe that I made it this far. I didn't even know I would make it past the first round for Pete's sake. It feels like such a blessing.
What did you make of the judges' comments Tuesday?
Paula and Randy were both appreciative in what we did and all our hard work. And Simon
, I'm glad he apologized to Cook because I don't think anyone realizes how much work we put into this – it's not like we just learn the song the day before.
Do you already have a deal with Clive Davis?
Well, we just met with him for a short time and it was on camera so, he just told us what song we were singing and it was nice to hear what he had to say about what he saw us as and him recognizing all the hard work we put into this. It was just really neat to be able to have a conversation with him – being as big a person in the music business as he is.
What is your favorite of your performances this year?
I really enjoyed "Imagine." It's one of my favorite songs and it's one of the best songs ever written. And what it did for people meant a lot because...people still go back to that performance even after all this. They just keep going back to that and saying, "Thank you for singing that." That song means a lot to me and for people to be able to feel that when you're singing, it's the coolest thing ever.