The 20-year-old from Wheeling, IL, became the eleventh finalist sent home from American Idol's tenth season after she received the fewest home viewer votes following Wednesday night's performance show -- becoming the sixth female finalist eliminated after five-straight male finalists were ousted before her in the competition.
During a conference call with reporters on Friday, Reality TV World asked Reinhart about her American Idol experience -- including what she believed sparked the rumors that she and former Idol tenth-season finalist Casey Abrams were dating, what her reaction was to all the speculation, and whether she felt the rumors distracted them or had any effect on the singers' home-viewer votes.
Reality TV World: After he got voted off, Casey made it clear that you guys were never dating even though there had been a bunch of rumors floating around about that. What was your reaction when you first heard those rumors and do you have any idea how they might have gotten started?
Haley Reinhart: Oh, man. It started a long time ago. I forget which week, but it's when we just started bonded a lot more and getting really close and really could just confide in each other. We had a different kind of connection from the rest, and so we'd sit by each other and all that jazz.
So, I'm pretty sure that's when it all started, and we laughed about it. I mean, obviously, we have a really, really strong relationship. We're not dating, but just the musicality between us and everything else has just been wonderful.
Reality TV World: Do you think the rumors helped or hurt either one of you two in the competition? Do you think it gained or cost you any votes, and did they ever become a distraction for either one of you two?
Haley Reinhart: You know, not really, and we really didn't give into them at all. We never said yes or no. That's probably the better thing to do. It's funny because we got so many questions about it, but either way, that's not going to hurt anybody. We had a lot of fun with it. We played the game. It was fun.
Also in the call, Reinhart told reporters how she responded to celebrity support, what it was like playing with her dad on the Idol stage, whether she felt she was portrayed differently from her true personality on the show, how she reacted to the judges' constant criticism in comparison to what the other contestants received, and what kind of debut album and sound she would like to create.
What's your reaction to all the support you have received from celebrities online and does that motivate you?
Haley Reinhart: Definitely. I'm not too big on the blogs. I don't like to look into anything that could possibly be negative, but I definitely do look at the tweets and I pretty much read everybody's that they send me and you know, getting support from [former American Idol eighth-season finalist Adam Lambert] was just amazing, because in my opinion, he's just spectacular. He's one of the best that ever laid foot on the stage.
If you could pick one cover that you did last season to put on your debut album, what would it be?
Haley Reinhart: There's so many different types of songs. I know "Bennie and the Jets" kind of launched a lot of different stuff for me, and I took a different route with the song. I started it off kind of slower and jazzier like I wanted to, so that would be pretty cool.
There's a bunch of different ones I could think of, but at the top of my head, that one's awesome. "Beautiful," I totally changed Carole King's -- it was beautiful the way it was written -- but I changed it up and kind of "funkified" it, and I think that was a different kind of a cover, you know?
What was it like singing with your dad playing guitar on the stage and you singing background vocals with your parents when you were younger?
Haley Reinhart: Oh, man this was amazing. I mean, they've, my parents, have basically just taught me the rules of the stage and everything since I was eight, and the first big thing I ever got to do was on my ninth birthday. That day, I got to play at an international tattoo festival.
It was huge and I sang "Blue" actually, from LeAnn Rimes, because that's when I figured out I could yodel when I heard LeAnn doing it and I was captivated by it, so I did it... and that was really cool. I think I was overwhelmed and probably cried afterwards, but it was just an amazing feeling.
So then going from that to on Wednesday, it's always been a dream of mine to get somewhere, and even -- well it's just as important to me. It would be an honor to have my mom and my dad -- to have them with me out there.
So, I got to go back home and play with their band, and then having them on the stage and actually getting to just give them a little couple of licks and show America what he can do -- that was just so special to me.
It seemed like the judges were a little bit more critical of you than they were with Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery. Do you think that helped or hindered how far you got in the competition?
Haley Reinhart: It could go both ways. I believe their intentions for it throughout this whole process were simply to push me along further, because it was apparent they liked to get me to where I could be at the top of my game and to get me a little fired up inside, so then I come out with something that they really, really really didn't expect of what not.
So, it could go both ways. It's up to America, but as far as whether it hindered anything, I got to the Top 3, so that's quite alright.
Would you have done anything differently if you were given the opportunity to go back?
Haley Reinhart: You know, I don't live in regret, really. There's of course going to be some things, and I do nitpick -- I'm a Virgo -- but other than that, I don't regret anything because each step along this way has gotten me to where I am today.
All these different songs and the genres that I got to show off in the early stages and everything, I wouldn't trade that in for the world. I got to show versatility and I'm proud to do that.
What do you believe America learned about you during the season?
Haley Reinhart: I think I took a lot of risks in the beginning early on when usually you do the opposite, and maybe they didn't know how to take me because I really went along with the themes each week to week. I started getting into my own little niche, the rock, bluesy sultry feel throughout, and I think America finally started to catch on and kept me around.
You were in the bottom three four times before your elimination. Did you get the feeling it was only a matter of time before you'd be voted off, or did it give you a feeling of invincibility because you survived so many times?
Haley Reinhart: I'd kind of go with option "B" a little bit more. I don't like to sell myself short, and I believe that taking all that in stride and realizing I've been at it so many times and I'm still around, there's something going on. I just have to step my game up even more each week to week and it pulled off.
Were you angry at all Thursday night when you heard what the vote was and that you were eliminated?
Haley Reinhart: Not at all. Not angry. Of course everybody gets surprised when they hear the verdict, but all in all, I accepted it very quickly and took it all in -- took it all with a grain of salt. I said, "Hey! Everything happens for a reason," and this is a good thing. This happened for a reason and it only means that I'm going to start my career as a solo artist even sooner.
Some viewers have criticized that you were acting a little aloof and unfriendly during the show. You talked about being a "goofball" before, so do you think America really didn't get the real you or didn't really see the person that other people see you as back home?
Haley Reinhart: Definitely. It's easy to get depicted in different ways on the show, and it's all just the way that the cards end up playing out. But the footage that was taken, I'm usually messing around with all the camera guys, like we're all cracking up together. I like to have a good time. I'm usually always bubbly, and it's different to see what comes out in all reality.
But also, you're on there and you're on that stage, you gotta perform in front of the judges, and it's not like we got a one-on-one where you can talk and show everybody who you are and give them a little bit of that personality that you have inside. So, it's really hard to get that all out in the short window they have, but that's time now that I got to really get out there.
Did you ever talk to any of the other contestants about how the judges seemed to be a little harder on you than anyone else or did they ever say anything to you? Did you ever approach Idol judge Randy Jackson and ask him what was going on?
Haley Reinhart: (Laughs) I don't know. Obviously, it's apparent when I have [Lauren Alaina] and all them coming up to me saying they just don't understand it. The only thing that I can try to get out of that is that they really just want to try to push my buttons -- push me as far as I can possibly go to get whatever they wanted to get out of me.
It was, most of the time, fire that they wanted to get out of me -- to get all aggravated and then try to take it out on the stage. You know, it is what it is. Randy and all them would tell me, "It's all love." And I'm like, "Alright, well, I understand. You want to see what you can get out of me."
You looked stunned when you heard the news of your elimination. How hard was it for you to pull yourself together and what were you thinking at that time?
Haley Reinhart: Well, I mean, you literally have seconds to think about it. So, I took a second to think about it, and then I said, "Alright, alright," and I just kept saying, "Okay. This is it, and guess what? I have to sing a song in about five seconds." So I said, "Let's have a good time with it and show America why they kept me there so long," hopefully, you know? -- give them a good show.
What happened backstage after that show and what did people say to you?
Haley Reinhart: I got offstage and I was at peace with everything, but I had the moment where I realized how much I was going to miss everybody -- literally even just the stage crew. Everybody is such a great, big family and I've gotten really close -- I think that's one of the most wonderful parts of this whole experience is to create bonds with everybody and make sure it's an enjoyable experience throughout.
I knew I'd miss them, but then again, I knew I would see them like today. But you know, it's just a reality check, but everybody was so supportive and they got my back and I've got everybody's backs there.
What goals do you have for your time onstage for the upcoming Idol tour?
Haley Reinhart: Oh, my. Performing, it's such a different ballgame than in front of the judges. Performing onstage is what I've done since I was a kid, and it's the passion that has started from the very beginning for me.
That's what I'm going to enjoy -- just letting loose, knowing that I'm not going to get judged one more time. I'm just going to love that crowd and look out into each and every seat and show them how much I appreciate them and want to be there for them.
Watching at home, it seems the judges' advice can go from one extreme to another each week. One week they want the singers to be more adventuresome and then the next, they say they need to find a sound and stick to it. How hard was that as a contestant to follow through with their advice and figure out exactly what they were asking for?
Haley Reinhart: Well, you know, if I do get the positive, I stick with that. I'll take every kind of criticism in, and what you do with it and what you believe inside, you know? But I felt like I know what kind of artist I am.
[Idol judge Steven Tyler] really helped me out to just make me feel good about a lot of those performances that I got some mixed critiques on. So, it balanced out in a way, just because I really appreciate what Steven said just being the great musician that he is. You know, what are you going to do?
What will you album be like because you covered a lot of territory on the show but it seemed like you knew what you wanted your sound to be like before even going on the show?
Haley Reinhart: Well, thank you. I definitely -- I have a lot of ideas from now even to the future of what I'd like to do. To begin with, I would love to do an album that's like sultry, bluesy and rock. I absolutely love jazz, so if I can fit that in somewhere -- or even just in the future -- get more into jazz. I'm definitely loving the sultry, bluesy rock feel.
How much have you grown as an artist throughout the competition, especially since you got to meet performers like Lady Gaga and Beyonce?
Haley Reinhart: Oh gosh, it was really, really cool. I mean, I wasn't really that nervous. I was excited to meet them, but I wasn't really nervous. The experience was just so surreal, but then again, I walked up to them and I felt like, "We're both artists," and they treated me like that. The feedback that they gave me was so wonderful every time on and off camera. I just walked away feeling on cloud nine. It was wonderful.
Haley Reinhart: Ahh, you know I can't do that! It's a close one, and it's so close because they're both in such a close lane together, as far as country goes. So, it's anybody's game, man.
Who would you like to work with on your future albums?
Haley Reinhart: Oh, gosh, well Steven. I love classic rock. I've just grown up with rock and roll in my life, and hey, if I could do something with him, that would be fantastic! Otherwise, there's plenty of people out there that I would love to collaborate with.
I adore [unintelligible]. I adore Esperanza Spalding. Janelle Monae -- those are three women there that I think are very unique and powerful in their own ways, and I hope to do something just as cool, you know?
What was your top favorite moment in the show?
Haley Reinhart: Well, I guess I picked "Bennie and the Jets" last night, because I felt like that was a big turning point. I had good performances leading up to that, I guess, and good comments starting with, "You Really Got a Hold on Me" -- I think it was. They just started saying like, "Oh, this is what you want to do."
So, with "Bennie and the Jets," I had a whole vision of how I wanted it to pan out, and it was my arrangement -- the whole, you know, how I started it off and how jazzy and a little bit slower it was and then I rocked it out by the end of it. I planned out that whole thing on the piano and it worked out very well. So, I guess I would say that performance.
A lot of times, people say you might be better off not winning because you could gain more room to do what you want to do when creating your first album. What's your opinion on that?
Haley Reinhart: You know, you never know, but that could definitely be certain, and I'm excited to go out there and try to do exactly what I want to do. This is a great position for me to be in, so I'm very excited for the future.