"I never came into this wanting to win it. I come from an indie, alternative-rock kind of background. For me, I think winning American Idol would hurt what I was really going for," Sligh told reporters during a Thursday conference call. "I think what kind of solidified it for me was when I was pretty much universally trashed for my arrangement of 'Endless Love.'"
Sligh sang "Endless Love" during the live Top 12 performance episode of Idol that celebrated the music of Diana Ross. Idol judge Randy Jackson called it a "mess;" Paula Abdul thought he was "trying ultra hard to be ultra hip;" and Simon Cowell simply commented that Sligh "murdered the arrangement."
"I kind of thought, 'You know, this isn't really the competition for me.' Actually, I almost dropped out that week," said Sligh. "I went to the guy from 19 [Entertainment] and was like, 'If I drop out when I make the Top 10, can I still be on tour?' And they were like, 'No. You have to get voted out.' So I was like, 'Well, you know... we'll see what happens.'"
After enjoying a nice rebound during the Top 11 performance episode last week when he sang "She's Not There," Sligh didn't have the same luck this week when he sang "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic." Jackson thought it was "a train wreck" rhythm-wise; Abdul commented she thought Sligh's inability to stay "in the pocket" was an "eyesore" for the audience; while Cowell called it "a mess" twice and thought his singing was "all over the place."
"This week I thought it was a pretty good song for my voice, and I gave it my best... and I think that's what I'm going out with, knowing I gave my best for every song I did," said Sligh. "I admit it wasn't a great performance this week, but I didn't think it was a terrible performance either."
Unfortunately for him voters agreed with the judges and Sligh was the third finalist sent packing.
"I knew I was going home. I just had this feeling in my heart I was going home. Pretty much nobody gets away from being trashed [by the judges] like I did on Tuesday night unscathed," said Sligh.
While Sligh again acknowledged he never really wanted to win, he assured the "Fro Patro" he wasn't tanking it on purpose either.
"I don't know if I ever really had it on my mind that I wanted to win, but I did want to do well in the competition," he said. "There's that competitive side of me that kind of kicks in. After the Top 12 performance I kind of took some time to decompress... I was like, 'You know, I just want to do a really good job but I'm going to do it on my own terms. If that means I get cut early, it means I get cut earlier.'"
The 28-year-old said he plans to return to his home in Greenville, SC to spend some time with his wife and reunite with his band Half Past Forever. Even before he was a finalist on Idol's sixth season, Sligh said their music was receiving some "record-label interest."
"I think a door should open up for us... that would be great," said Sligh.
Check back with Reality TV World on Friday for more about Sligh's exit interview, including three things that he would change if he were running Idol; which judge he thought was a little harsher than usual this season; and the potential surprise he has in store for viewers during Idol's season finale.