Eliminated "American Idol" contestant Andrew Garcia on Thursday brushed off suggestions that he failed to live to his early promise on the show, and said he felt the judges had been harsh this season.
Garcia, 24, was an early favorite on the Fox TV singing contest after delighting the panel with his acoustic twist on the 1988 Paula Abdul hit single "Straight Up".
But after making the Top 12, Garcia was repeatedly slammed for being unoriginal and failing to show personality. Simon Cowell at one point suggested that "Straight Up", which has now been viewed some 3 million times on YouTube, had been a fluke.
"I don't feel I let my fans down at all. They get me and that is all that matters," Garcia told reporters after being voted off the show after Elvis Presley week.
Garcia rejected criticism of his "boring" performances.
"On stage, I was focused more on just performing," he said. (The judges) don't really hang out with me. If they had hung out with me they would have loved me. I actually did (inject my personality into performances) but they still bashed me. But you can't win everyone over."
"I think they (the judges) are being really hard this year. I don't know why, but they are being really hard," he said.
Garcia said he had not expected to get as far as the final nine on the show and was happy at how well he had done.
Katie Stevens, 17, who was also eliminated this week, said standing before the panel had been tougher than performing each week. "It was nerve-racking going into the judging part of it," she told reporters.
Stevens, one of the two youngest contestants in the Top 12, had repeatedly been urged to make more of her youth. But she told reporters she was used to the company of her older brother and cousins and preferred music from the 1950s and '60s.
"It was a little bit more difficult for me to be young and go toward that younger vibe because I do spend so much time with people older than me. I love the older music, That's where my inspiration lies.
"I tried my hardest and I'm not ashamed of anything that I did," she said.
Both Garcia and Stevens said they hoped to record albums in the future.
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)