'Idol' Reject Karen Rodriguez: Jennifer Lopez Was 'Rooting for Me'
New York's Karen Rodriguez saw herself in the bottom three on "American Idol" for the second straight week Thursday night (Mar. 17), and this time, the Latino singer could not be saved. Even after an emotional, bilingual performance of Mariah Carey's "Hero," judge Randy Jackson announced that, although not unanimous, the panel had decided not to use their save on the 21-year-old.
Nevertheless, the always-smiling Rodriguez remains a beacon of positivity. In a conference call today, the singer was adamant that this is not the end of the road for her music career.
Prior to being on "Idol," you were on the Puerto Rican singing talent show "Objetivo Fama." Did being on that show prepare you for "Idol?"
Totally. I was the youngest contestant, made it to seventh place. It wasn't as big as "American Idol," but what's so funny is when I was in that show, I was the American one and I was trying to show what I could do with my Americanized style of singing. So it was like the roles reversed. When I was on the show, the judges would tell me, "Stay out of the pop, don't sing pop. Spanish people don't understand what you're trying to do with your voice," and I listened to that and I lost myself in the competition. I regretted that I didn't stay true to who I was, and I told myself that if I was ever in another competition, I was going to always stay true to myself.
When I got to "American Idol," I used that experience, and I said, "This is my chance to really shine and show people who I am," and that's why I decided to bring on the Spanish, because I needed to make it known that I wanted to be a Latin American artist and I feel that I accomplished that on the time I was there.
What did it mean for you to perform in Spanish and English to so many people?
It meant the world to me. This is what I've been wanting to do for my whole life. I've always had a vision of myself being a Latin American artist. Just to be able to sing a song ["Hero"] of that magnitude in both languages on a No. 1 show in America in a show called "American Idol"... I've always said that America is a big melting pot, and there's so many cultures [and] so much diversity that it could be called "American Idol," but it's really not. Everybody in the show brings their own style and that was just my way of expressing myself and showing America who I really was.
Did the judges have any imparting advice for you?
Yes, of course. Jennifer's been a fan of mine from the beginning; she said so herself. She said that I was perfect. She said that somebody had to go home, and this is your time. But she was rooting for me; if it had been all on her, I know she would have saved me -- she told me. Even behind the camera, she would hug me, and would always look me in the eye and say, "Just go out there and kill it." She's always been that person for me... Steven Tyler and Randy, they both came at me at the end and they gave me hugs and kisses and they said, "You're amazing, you're going to go so far, this is only the beginning."
Any regrets? Anything you would have done differently?
No, not at all. I feel like every song I chose was a song I wanted to sing. What I would have done differently is I would have gone up there with even more passion, even more drama, even more guts and everything. But I think, honestly, I am very proud of making it this far. I never thought from an audition off MySpace I was going to make it to Top 12, especially on the best season ever. This is my time; this is a perfect time for me to be on this show. If it was any season, it had to be this one.
What's next for Karen Rodriguez?
I can't wait to go home and sort of reflect on what happened. It's been very crazy these past couple months. I just can't wait to start writing, to start bettering myself as a musician, as an artist, as a singer. I'm going to work really hard to become that artist that's ready so that as soon as the show ends and if something comes up, I can totally be that package. I still have to work on so many things, but I know this time is going to really help me to better myself.