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'American Idol' eliminee Avalon Young: Landing in the Bottom 3 twice felt hopeless, it was a bad feeling

By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/17/2016 

American Idol determined its farewell season's Top 6 singers and eliminated Avalon Young and Lee Jean in the process late last week on Fox.

The two contestants ousted from the competition were Avalon, a 21-year-old server from San Diego, CA, and Lee, a 16-year-old student from Bluffton, SC. Last week marked Avalon's second time in the bottom three.

Instead, Idols' judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. chose to save fellow bottom-three member Sonika Vaid, a 20-year-old student from Martha's Vineyard, MA.

During a Friday conference call with reporters, Avalon talked about her experience on the show. Below is what she had to say. Check Reality TV World's American Idol page for more from Avalon in addition to Lee's interview.

I was wondering if you had a feeling that you would be eliminated.

Avalon Young: I never, never tried to get too comfortable during the show. I think I always wanted to thank [the judges] whether I left last night or I was going to win, I thanked them before every episode because you never know what's going to happen, and then, they're the reason that I was there in the first place, so thanking them is always my priority.

Was there something you learned about yourself or about the music industry that you will now take with you moving forward in your music career?

Avalon Young: Absolutely. I think the one thing that I've been touching upon a lot is that you have to believe in yourself.  I think before I started this whole journey, I kind of just knew that I had a talent that I liked, and I really wanted to pursue it. 

And I remember my very, very first audition in San Francisco, I thought there was a 50% chance that I'd make it through, 50% that I was going home, and I really thought I was going home that day. Then there were times in Hollywood Week where I left the stage crying because I was sure I was going home.

And then, I made it to Top 24, and then there was Top 14 and Top 10, and then I made it all the way down to the Top 8. So I think as a musician and a human, the best way to succeed in what I want to do in life, which is music, you have to believe in yourself and you got to wake up every day telling yourself you can do it.

Because if there's a day you tell yourself you can't, you're going to start believing that. So, whatever you tell yourself, you've got to believe it, and I just need to tell myself that I'm the one, and it's going to be okay.

Jennifer Lopez's comments about you changing it up next week if you're still around, were you surprised by that?

Avalon Young: I was a little bit surprised. I think I was surprised because prior to that, she had told me how much she loved the performance, so then when they told me to do something different, I was a little lost. But I just knew that there were only five shows left. Regardless of whether I had left yesterday or I had left at the finale, I only had five shows left.

And if I'm only going to get to sing for America five more times, I just wanted to do my thing and have a good time and really be myself on TV, so that when I did come out of the competition, I didn't have to change anything or go back to being any kind of way. I mean, I've been myself from Day 1, and I remained the same as I was on that first audition.

How important was song choice in the competition for you?

Avalon Young: I think song choice is the most important thing -- that, and the way you perform the song. But for me, it was really important because I think the key to going further and further in the competition is being different. You have to be different, and you have to stand out, or else you're going to be boring and you're going to fade into the background. 

Song choice for me was just about picking something that -- I knew that as a person, I was a little different than everyone on this show. So I was, like, "All I really have to do is pick songs that really exaggerate who I am as a person," and I think I did that every week. 

I'm happy with everything I did on the show; I have no regrets. I think it was an amazing experience, and I'm glad that I picked the songs that I did because it really gave me a chance to shine and do what I wanted to do and sing.

What are your post-Idol plans?

Avalon Young: Get back in that studio and I have to get back on the horse, start writing and recording and releasing again.  I'm just ready to go up from here. I want to collaborate with anyone and everyone and go on tour somehow and work it all out.

You had to sing for the judges' save two times in a row. What was it like for you this week going in and singing in the bottom three again?

Avalon Young: It was cool because this week, I mean, it sounds unfortunate, but it was hopeless. I was familiar with the feeling, so for me to be standing there, of course, it was crappy. I mean, the worst part was just to know that not enough people out there voted. I think that was the bad feeling. The bad feeling wasn't going home. The worst feeling was having to leave my friends.

I think that was the biggest heart-sinking feeling. But, I told myself whether I was the first one to go through to the Top 6, or I was the last one to sing in the bottom three, I was still going to sing it the same way either way and give it five million percent. Because as a singer and an artist, if I get the opportunity to sing on a stage, I'm going to kill it every time, so that's what it was.

What was it like for you to sing with Ruben Studdard?

Avalon Young: It was kind of just like [he gave me] a big brother vibe, and it's cool to be surrounded by people who just want you to do well. That was the funniest part about American Idol for me, was that it was a competition, but everybody wanted to see you do your best. 

That was probably the most awesome thing about American Idol, was I never felt like I was competing with anyone. I just felt like I was going through this crazy thing with a ton of my friends, and eventually people have to leave, but it's the nature of this show. It was really amazing for both of us, I think.

You are part of the last generation of American Idol. What has been your favorite experience from being on the show?

Avalon Young: I would have to say just doing stupid things and having fun with everyone. There's nothing better than being surrounded by people who get you, and it's different because we all have friends and family, but we don't have anyone going through that experience with us. 

It's an experience you can't put into words, so to have people go through it with you, you don't have to say any words because you always understand each other and what you're going through. That's really important to have. So, that's probably the best part about the show... I met my best friends in Hollywood Week.

What was your strategy for choosing songs on the show?

Avalon Young: Yeah, I think my strategy would be just pick something I'm familiar with and that I know I'm going to have fun with. I think the biggest key on the show, as dumb as it sounds, is just to not take anything too seriously. The moment you start taking anything too seriously, it doesn't become fun, and that's what performing should be for us as singers. 

We just want to have fun, and we want to enjoy what we're doing up there. My key for song choice was just picking something that I was comfortable with and picking something that I liked and that would be fun for me. That was my key.

Are there any songs you hoped to sing or really wanted to sing that didn't work out?

Avalon Young: I think there's thousands of songs that we wanted to sing. I mean, the list we chose from and all the songs in the world that we could just sing, it was, there were a lot of weeks that I had a hard time picking what I was going to sing because I was fond of so many songs. 

So yeah, I mean, there's not a single song that I can name, but I know there's hundreds and hundreds of songs that I would have loved to perform on that stage, but there are only so many performances you have... I actually got every song that I wanted this season.

I even got -- the time that I sang Justin Bieber's "Love Yourself," I was actually going to sing "Hotline Bling" by Drake. And they worked on getting that cleared, but it's about finding a song that's good and that you like, but it also has to vocally go somewhere for you.

Like, for Drake, you know, that's a great song for him, but for me, I just couldn't find a key and arrangement where it really did anything for me. So, yeah, they're pretty lenient, and they're pretty good at getting us what we need. I feel that's something that a lot of people think we don't have control over, but we have 100% control of everything we do on that show.

Have you heard from any big stars or musicians? Have you received any support on social media from anybody cool? 

Avalon Young: I haven't been reached out to by anyone like that, but Justin Guarini did reach out to me, which was cool because I talked about him in one of my interviews, and I covered "P.Y.T." this week, and he actually did that on his season too. So I got a toot from him and we've got some tweets from some people, and it's been really incredible just getting that recognition from people we admire.

Any final remarks?

Avalon Young: I guess, just thank you so much to everyone who voted for me and everyone who supported me. I mean, maybe we didn't get enough votes for a couple of weeks, and that's fine, because I know there's still people out there who love me and support me, and I love you guys just as much.

And I appreciate you all and this is not the end of the road. It's actually just the beginning of a new one. So, I'm going to get out there, and I will give you some new things soon, and it's going to be amazing. "Team Avy" forever!

Check our American Idol page for more from Avalon Young in addition to Lee Jean's interview.

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