Aaron Kelly feels that trying to deliver a perfect performance on Tuesday night might have actually had hindered him.

"I was over thinking it Tuesday because when I go out there I want it to be perfect. I think that in a sense it kind of pulls you back a little bit because you're trying to clean everything up," Kelly told reporters during a Thursday conference call.

"Wednesday night I just let it all go and had a great time with it."

The reason why the 17-year-old high school student from Sonestown, PA let it all go on Wednesday night was because he had just become the eighth finalist ousted from American Idol's ninth-season after he received the fewest home viewer votes following Tuesday night's live performance show.

"I think the judges wanted to see more charisma. I got my confidence up and I was having a good time, I just needed to believe a little bit more," Kelly told reporters.

"But I felt the more I went into this competition the more I was gaining with my confidence and charisma. I was still learning to add all the extra things to my performances."

Despite agreeing that he was still growing as a performer, Kelly said he decided to stay true to himself during the competition.

"You don't want to change who you are in this competition because the people send you through who you are in the beginning," he explained. "If you change who you are, you're changing the person that America fell in love with."

Prior to Tuesday night's performance episode, the Top 5 finalists were mentored by Harry Connick, Jr. -- and Kelly said he was his favorite ninth-season musical mentor.

"He worked with us on such a personal level. He did all the arrangements and he worked really hard in making sure that we all shined on performance night," said Kelly.

"Just to have a mentor that cares so much and is such an iconic figure -- I mean he's incredible -- so it was such an honor getting to share the stage with him. I felt really privileged."

Kelly also said he was "not sure" if Connick is interested in the possibility of replacing departing American Idol judge Simon Cowell on next year's judging panel but said he would endorse the idea.
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"We were talking about that a little bit today. He would be a great replacement for Simon," said Kelly. "He's very honest and he's going to tell you straight out. I think Harry Connick would fit the bill perfectly."

Kelly's American Idol experience actually started when he auditioned at Disney World's American Idol Experience attraction in Orlando, FL.

"It's a great way to get a feel for what this competition is really like. You go through a set of audition processes and then they put you through and the audience actually votes you through," said Kelly, explaining the attraction.

"At the end of the day, they pick one person from each show that day to go to the finale. Then at the finale the audience votes you through. The gold ticket for that puts you to the front of the line for any audition. That was good for me because I actually ended up being one of the first to audition in Orlando that morning."

Kelly subsequently made it all the way to the Top 5 and said he feels any of the four remaining contestants have a shot at the American Idol crown.

"They're all talented and I think they all have a shot at winning this," he told reporters.

"When it all comes down to it, it's America that votes. So any one of them has a shot at this. They're all fantastic and they're really going to go out there and shine for Top 4."

In addition, Kelly dismissed recent criticism that Idol's ninth-season finalists aren't that strong a group compared to prior years.

"They say that every year, and these are all talented people," he said.

"We're all working very hard up there. When people watch the show, they think that we just go up there and sing. But there's a lot more behind the scenes that we have to go through. It's very difficult singing a song or a genre that you're not very difficult with. It's a very difficult task, but we're all doing it pretty well."

While Kelly also credited his fellow ninth-season finalists for supporting him during the competition, he added his adoptive parents -- an aunt and uncle who adopted him and his older brother -- were also a "great support."

"They both put out a lot for me to be able to do this. I'm very thankful for both of them," he said.

"I've had a great life and I love getting to share all this with my family... I'm glad that it's my aunt and uncle that adopted me because if it wasn't I wouldn't get to see any of my real mom and dad or any of that side of the family. That's the reason they adopted us, because they didn't want us getting taken away to some foster parents that would never let us see our real families."

Kelly said he's looking forward to seeing some of his family when he participate in the American Idol Live! concert tour that will follow this summer.

"I'm really excited to get to be a part of it and interact with the fans and the supporters," he said. "It's going to be nice to connect with the fans and also be able to go out there and not have to worry about judges or impressing the judges. It's just going to be good clean fun and I'm going to have a blast."

Kelly said he's "on the verge" of finishing high school and added that all of the school work he had to do during the competition actually helped.

"I look at it as the contestants, they have to worry about their performance or the results -- but I have to worry about astronomy so I'm not thinking about all this stuff," he explained.

"I have school to take my mind off of it. I used it as an advantage."

Kelly said he grew up listening to country music and wouldn't mind working in that genre when it's time to record an album.

"It's what I feel most comfortably with, really... I have a great time performing country music. I see myself hopefully going down that road," he told reporters.

"I'd love to record an album and get to do some original music, stuff that I've written, because we're not allowed to do that on the show. So I don't know if people know that I write songs, but it's a huge passion of mine."