"I'm glad that they let me go because I know that everything that is coming after this show is about to be amazing"
The competition is heating up as "American Idol" is officially down to its top 6 contestants. Thursday's elimination night revealed Kree Harrison, Angie Miller, and Lazaro Arbos as this week's Top 3, while America voted off New Orleans native, Burnell Taylor. Despite his soulful rendition of India Arie's "Ready For Love" – which brought Mariah Carey, Nicki Minaj, and fellow contestant Candace Glover to tears -- the judges bypassed the opportunity to use their "save" card and honored the voter's decision to send Taylor home.
Following the show, Billboard chatted with Taylor who explained that he's excited to return to his hometown because "he's got work to do." He also mentioned that he plans to take Keith Urban's comments about him occasionally being "a bit pitchy" to heart as he works to further his career and that he would love to work with big names like Frank Ocean and Rihanna.
How are you feeling?
Just goin' home. No big deal. I mean, everything happens for a reason. Now it's time for me to kill it.
Did you have an idea that you were going home tonight?
Yes, this whole week. And it was basically God giving me a sign so that I could be prepared. I don't want to get all, "Oh, I'm going home!" You know, I feel I went out with a bang. I did what I was supposed to do, I sung my song, and hopefully, someone will reach out to me.
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You went out on two highs tonight -- Nicki actually came out to say goodbye and you kissed Amber...
I knew it was coming! I just wanted to let all them know that I love them, and they all capable of killing it. I feel that the place where we're at right now, we're all going to be somebody -- if we take this experience and run with it. So that was just my message: "Do what you all gotta do. Kill it. And I'm gonna see y'all again."
What did Nicki say to you?
Nothing. She just cried! Probably make me cry, 'cause I wasn't expecting her to cry but I gained like a high... I always respected her, all of them. I gained a higher respect just seeing that she really cares about me. It means a lot.
Mariah was bawling too. What did she say?
Nothing. She was just saying, "Take this experience and do what I gotta do…keep my name hot." And that's what I'm gonna do.
So what are you going to do?
Ah, only time will tell. But it's coming!
Are you and Amber dating? She suggested to us last night that that little crush is a mutual feeling.
It definitely is. I said it once before: A crush only involves one person. So it ain't a crush.
And you were singing right to her today...
I sung to all of them. And it took everything in me not to cry -- not because I was sad to, you know, be going home, but... You know, these are people that I didn't even know last year, so the fact that they're crying behind me going home, it means a lot. I love them like nobody!
Will you go home or stay in LA until it gets closer to the finale?
Oh no! I'm going home! I got things to work on.
What's the first thing you're going to do?
Is it true that you lost 40 pounds during your time on Idol? How did you manage that?
It's power and the treadmill. That's the only thing I did. And I just did it, you know, for 90 minutes; two times a day ‘cause I was very dedicated, determined that I was going to lose it. I slept and ate and did all kinds of things with that treadmill! And I'm going back home and doing it again [Laughs]!
What kind of career would you like to have? Where would you like to see yourself in the next few years?
Oh man, that is a good question because I want to do so much! I said by the time I'm 25, I better have at least six Grammys. I'm speaking that to existence and I'm doing everything. If I have to be on Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, Animal Planet, I'm going to do.
You mentioned the other night that you have some tricks up your sleeve that you've been saving. Will we still see those?
Y'all going to see it on the album! I feel like it hasn't come together yet, but it's coming real soon. Don't sleep.
Do you have a favorite moment or performance or time that stands out to you?
Honestly, looking back at me, Devin and Lazaro's performance of "Sugar Pie Honey Bunch"…[Laughs] I can laugh about it now because I ain't on the show! It was fun-ny! It was hilarious! I feel like we all wanted to laugh. We were upset, but we all wanted to laugh, like what are we doing?! It was hilarious, like funny, like I can laugh about it now because it's over and we learned from it, but it was hilarious! But I love them, I really do.
The judges seemed to really surprised when they announced the Top 3. What was the general feeling? Did you guys all feel like that was going to be the top three?
In this competition you just don't you know. You don't know who's going to be top 3, you don't know who's going to be the bottom 3. I mean, it just all falls into how the voters vote and what God has for you. I feel like my talent can stretch outside of this show. This show was just a platform for me. Now it's time for me to take what I learned from the show and build on top of that platform. I'm ready.
What was in your gift bag from Casey?
Oh, some hot sauce!
Who would you like to work with? Who is your dream collaboration?
I will name everybody right now. Don't give me the names because I'm naming everybody. I would love to work with: Frank Ocean, Brandy, India Arie, Rihanna, Chris Brown, Bruno Mars, Kendrick Lamar -- anybody that's looking for a brother because I'm coming home [Laughs]! But no seriously, I would love working with all of them - anybody really, anybody.
So you're going to stick with the pop R&B kind of thing then?
I mean, yeah but I'm still going to do me. I'm going to do me, but I wouldn't mind working with anyone of them.
What song would you have dueted with, with Amber?
Ooh. [Sings] "If this world were mine." I don't know. I guess it would have been a good song because you know that we like each other so…
It would have been a love song I gather.
Yeah. And we'll do it on tour .
Were there songs that you would sing together when you were chilling out?
No because when we chill, it's basically outside of singing. I feel like we're around singing all day so when it's time to chill -- with anybody -- we're not thinking about singing and all that.
What will you take away from this experience?
The mistakes that I made. I mean they weren't huge mistakes but they helped me learn about things that I didn't know. I've grown physically, mentally, emotionally…so I'm taking all of that away from this.
Are you taking the wardrobe with you as well?
Yeah. I'm taking it.
Do you have any regrets from your time on the show?
No. I don't regret anything in life. It happens for a reason.
Watching the show on TV and being on it must be a completely different experience. What was the biggest thing that surprised you from being on the show?
These themes and song-picking… I thought we just got up there and pick a song any song you know what I'm saying? That's why as a show, we have to have themes but it's a fun way to challenge everybody. I enjoyed it.
Do you have a favorite performance of all of them?
Honestly "Ready for Love" when I got into the Top 10 – amazing! And I'm my worst critic. Every time I listened to it I thought, "You better sing boy. You better sing." I liked that and I liked "This Time" by John Legend.
Did you think that maybe somehow they'd use the save tonight if you sang hard enough?
I mean... I felt like it was already confirmed. I'm glad that they let me go because I know that everything that is coming after this show is about to be amazing. I don't feel like I'm the underdog but I'm in this situation where anybody out there that says that "I can't," now I know that I have to so that's what I need to do and that's what I'm going to do.
Was there one particular piece of advice from one of the judges that you are really going to take home with you and work on?
In Hollywood week – it was hard. I was pitchy – all kinds of stuff. Keith told me that I was pitchy and actually I went home and I got vocal lessons and I really took that seriously. I feel like that's what got me this far is because I went home and I did my homework. Now I gotta go back home [sighs] and do my homework again so I come out on top.
And Jimmy said you didn't do your homework. What's up with that?
I mean everybody has their opinions and I respect that.
Are you excited to go home a hometown hero?
Yes, absolutely and my birthday is on the 14th so I get to enjoy my birthday.