'American Idol's Devin Velez: I wanted to tell Nicki Minaj, "Whoa, we still have feelings"
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/29/2013
Devin Velez was eliminated from American Idol during Thursday night's live results show broadcast on Fox, determining the twelfth season's Top 7 finalists.
Devin, an 18-year-old from Chicago, IL, became the third finalist sent home from American Idol's twelfth season after he received the fewest home viewer votes following Wednesday night's performance show, which featured the Top 8 finalists performing songs by artists from Detroit -- such as Motown.
Devin's elimination became official after American Idol judges Randy Jackson, Nicki Minaj, Mariah Carey, and Keith Urban announced they were not going to prevent his departure by using their one "The Judges' Save" of the season. The decision would have to be unanimous amongst the judges to utilize the special save, and in Devin's case, the vote was not.
During a Friday conference call with reporters, Devin talked to Reality TV World about his American Idol experience. Below is what he had to say. Check back with us on Monday for more from his interview.
Reality TV World: Following your trio performance Wednesday night, Burnell Taylor said he did what he was supposed to do and didn't want to throw anyone under the bus, and then you said you had tried to "save a couple of people" during the song. It kind of seemed like you were both pointing fingers at Lazaro Arbos but obviously wanted to be polite and not call him out. Would you mind talking about that a little bit? And also, Nicki basically yelled at you guys to get off the stage. do you think she overreacted a little bit? Do you think the performance was really that bad?
Devin Velez: Looking back at the video, I know where Nicki was coming from. I agree with the first half of her critique, you know, when she said that it felt like it was Hollywood Week -- that it was a joke, that stuff like that shouldn't be happening, that she was going to pretend that she didn't hear it.
I agree with that. When she went crazy and was like, "Get off the stage!" blah, blah, blah, and it's just like, "Whoa Miss Minaj, I need you to calm down, please. We're still human. We still have feelings." She doesn't care sometimes, but it's all good. We still love Nicki.
But hearing that, yeah, it is a little cutting while you're onstage. But the way my mother raised me was when someone is saying bad things about you and they're not true, guess what? They are not talking about you, so when Nicki Minaj was saying that we were forgetting our lyrics and that we were off pitch, without pointing fingers, I was not off pitch nor did I forget my lyrics.
Therefore, I didn't take that to offense. But it still sucked to be up there, seeing your team -- because we were a team up there -- seeing your team get knocked out that hard. But what happened, happened. And you know, we're growing. I think that it was a great wake-up call. I don't think that's going to happen again on the show.
Reality TV World: After you sang for "The Judges' Save," Mariah was egging on the audience to yell out "save him," Keith was laughing and Randy hesitated for awhile before making the announcement that they were not going to save you. What was going through your mind in that moment? Because as a viewer, it seemed like there was a good chance they were going to save you because didn't seem as somber as they've been in prior elimination situations.
Devin Velez: It wasn't that tough. I mean, I think it was already set in stone. I kind of felt like, "Today is just going to happen" -- that I was going home. And sooner or later, we all have to go home.
So it was my place to go home yesterday. I think that they're going to save "the save" for someone really, really special -- not that I don't think I'm special, but with all the talent that's left, if someone is in the bottom two that doesn't belong there just because they have one bad song day, I think that they should use that save on that person.
Reality TV World: Everyone has been declaring this season a girl's to win and there's just been so much talk about how fantastic they are. Do you think that automatically put the guys at a disadvantage voting-wise, and do you think that has a direct correlation to why the remaining three guys all ended up in the bottom three last night or do you believe that was just a coincidence?
Devin Velez: There's an explanation for that of course, but I can't speak so much on it just because I'm not America and I don't know who votes for what. But I do know that though the judges aren't voting, I know that their critiques do have a very big influence on America's votes.
But as for the guys being in the bottom three last night, I think that our group performance is what put us there. And I think it was well-deserved. I think that we weren't prepared and we went up there and it was unprofessional. So because of that, we were in the bottom three. And I wouldn't change that for anything just because I don't want to be treated unfairly.
And the fact that we weren't prepared, it showed that that's how serious it can be, where you can go home. But yeah, the girls, the girls have power! They've been consistent with their performances and their vocals just because none of them have gone home yet. That's crazy! But they're fighting strong.
Reality TV World: Last week, Jimmy Iovine said he believed the judges were being too nice and easy on the contestants, and this week, viewers have noted that Nicki seemed especially aggressive and critical in her commentary. Do you think Nicki's behavior Wednesday night was a result of Jimmy's complaint -- that maybe she was purposely trying to be a little harder on you guys?
Devin Velez: I mean, Nicki Minaj is one of those characters where she has multiple personalities. She's her own person and it's weird because you never know what you're going to get with Nicki Minaj. She could've been upset because the night before she was wearing the same color dress as Mariah or that she wasn't on time, we never know.
But I know that I love her as a judge and I love that she's always truthful. But it's when she gets to the exaggerative speaking where it's just like, "Ahhh, take it easy. You don't want to hurt someone else's feelings." But yeah, she is who she is.
Reality TV World: When you got eliminated, Mariah was especially emotional, basically crying through your whole "sing for survival" performance. What was your relationship like with Mariah, did you become very close to her? Because obviously all the viewers get to see is the judges' critiques after each performance?
Devin Velez: You know, our time with the judges -- it's not much. It's a little bit during rehearsals and maybe backstage before we go on, but it's not like we get to sit down and talk.
But after I got voted off last night, I actually had a conversation with her and was hearing things like -- she was saying things that like she was so proud to see the artist that I'm becoming and that if nothing works out later on down the road, that she would love to contact me.
Hearing things like that from Mariah Carey, it's crazy because she is so huge, like it's crazy how big this woman is in the industry. And so hearing that was a little reassuring, and I'm a little more at peace just because if nothing happens, I know that I always have that to fall back on.
Reality TV World: Did you get any advice from or have any similar conversations with Randy, Nicki and/or Keith following your elimination?
Devin Velez: Nicki might've had to step away earlier because I didn't get to say bye to her. She had prior engagements, but Keith gave me a big old bear hug and he was just being Keith and I love him. He said that he was sad that I had to go and he said to keep going and that no matter what, we were still one of his idols -- that I was an idol in their eyes.
And Randy said the same thing that Mariah did, where if nothing happens, to contact him some time down the road just because I had true talent. So hearing that from such great people, it makes me feel good as an artist but also as a person. And so yeah, I enjoyed every moment of it last night.
Above is what Devin had to say to Reality TV World during a Friday conference call with reporters. Check back with us on Monday for more from his interview.