'American Idol' Auditions Kick Off in Nashville Without Simon Cowell
"American Idol" judges Ellen DeGeneres, Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi and Simon Cowell. FOX

Shortly after being ousted from "American Idol's" class of 2010, the four eliminated contestants still sounded a bit shell-shocked from a particularly harsh round of judges' comments.

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"Yeah, they were not taking any chances this week," Ashley Rodriguez said during a conference call with reporters the day after the first results show. "I think a lot of people thought maybe they'd be a little lenient considering it was our first live show. Turns out they were coming throwing punches. There was definitely no leniency with it being our first live show, which is unfortunate 'cause there are a lot of jitters and nerves that go into a first live performance. We definitely could've used a little bit of love from them, for sure; I think they were very quick to give a lot of criticism and not back it up with anything positive, which is unfortunate."

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Janell Wheeler agreed that performing for the first time on the live "American Idol" stage was an adjustment for all 24 of the contestants. "Being there is so different. Being live, the band is really, really loud and aggressive and awesome, and you get so into it...We don't know how the sound works yet." But Wheeler also predicted that for the remaining contestants, "it's gonna get better and better. Each time they get on the stage and used to what it sounds like, it's gonna get better. It was difficult to grasp that at first."

Classic rocker Tyler Grady, meanwhile, was concerned that his strong response to the judges' seemingly contradictory comments about his '70s-styled look and approach would be misconstrued by viewers. "I meant no disrespect by that," he explained. "When you're a contestant in that situation and you're getting conflicting views, it's very confusing. I don't blame the judges at all; when I made that comment I was simply expressing my feelings at the time. I felt as a contestant on the show you need to stand up for yourself and go out wtih some dignity."

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All four of the now ex-Idols vowed that America would hear more from them again, and all four predicted they'd be recording albums in the near future. Joe Munoz added that "there's a lot of artists doing a lot of things right now. I really want to be that kind of artist -- being in musical theater, on TV and make records for people." Wheeler predicted that after decompressing at home in Tampa, "hopefully I'm Nashville-bound," and Grady said he's motivated to push harder with his Pennsylvania-based band Wailing Waters.

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