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Ousted 'American Idol' finalist Chikezie Eze 'knew' he'd be booted

By Christopher Rocchio, 03/27/2008 

Chikezie Eze knew that last night's live American Idol results show broadcast would be the end of his journey as a seventh-season finalist.

"I knew I'd be in the bottom three.  I knew I was going home.  That was okay with me," he told Reality TV World during a Thursday conference call.  "I had followed my heart throughout the entire competition and I knew that eventually I'd have to go home at some point.  I was fine that it was at some point where I'd still be able to come back and do the tour."

The 22-year-old from Inglewood, CA was ousted from Idol's seventh season after host Ryan Seacrest said  "over 30 million" home viewer votes were cast immediately following Tuesday night's live performance episode broadcast that saw the Top 10 finalists perform songs from the year they were born.

Eze sang "If Only for One Night" by Luther Vandross during Tuesday night's performance episode.  Judge Randy Jackson said he "didn't love it" and criticized it for not being "that vibey Chikezie that I love with all that energy" and instead "just kind of boring."

"Chikezie I think you sang it well.  Having said that, I thought the performance actually was very cheesy," commented Simon Cowell.  "It's that you have to show originality.  I didn't see anything original other than somebody trying to copy the original.  I don't think that's what you should be doing.  I miss your personality now."

Despite being previously warned by the judges that a ballad didn't suit his personality following his semifinals performance of "All the Woman I Need" -- another Vandross song -- Eze said he personally "didn't care" what the judges thought of his Tuesday night rendition of "If Only for One Night."

"I didn't care honestly.  I already knew that Simon wasn't going to feel it, no matter what.  I knew that when I picked the song that Simon wasn't going to like it, so I came in knowing that," he explained to reporters.  "I did the song anyway.  I just had to do what I felt was right and what I felt represented me.  So it didn't make any difference."

While Eze said he knew going into it that Cowell would be critical of the performance, he added that actually made him less nervous.

"It took a lot of the pressure off because then I didn't have that to worry about," he said.  "Now I'm just performing for the sake of performing, which I love to do."

Even if Eze could go back and change his song selection, he told reporters he wouldn't.

"If I had gotten another chance to do it, I'd do it the exact same way," he explained.  "That's the only way I could have gone home happy, is by following my heart.  If I had done something that wasn't me and then I had gone home, I would have been so upset that I didn't follow my heart.  I would have been so upset.  I'm so glad I did what I did."

Check back with Reality TV World on Friday for more from Eze's exit interview, including what he did different for his seventh-season audition after being cut during the sixth-season's Hollywood Round; if he's really always as jovial as he appeared during his Idol run; what he learned from his time on the show; and how he hopes to have at least one Grammy to his credit in 10 years.

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