Haley Reinhart is gone from the “American Idol” world — but won’t be forgotten any time, soon. “Everybody is such a great big family…and I knew I’d miss them. But then again, I’m gonna see them again today,” the ousted singer from Wheeling, Ill., told “Idol’s” weekly conference call with reporters as she, in fact, rode to rehearsals for “Idol’s” finale episodes next week. Being No. 3, after all, means not having to stay on ice too long before you’re part of the show again, so Reinhart is, not surprisingly, “at peace with everything” as she contemplates her “Idol” past and where she’ll head from here.
You’d been in the bottom three four times before Thursday. Did you feel it was only a matter of time before you’d be eliminated or were you starting to feel invincible?
Reinhart: I kind of go with option B a little bit more. I don’t like to sell myself short, and I believe that taking that all in stride and realizing I’ve been in (the bottom three) so many times and I’m still around, there’s something going on. I’ve got to step up my game even more week to week, and it pulled off.
Is it fair to say you were angry when the decision was announced?
Not at all, not angry. Of course everybody’s gonna be surprised with the verdict, but all in all I accepted it very quickly and took it in, took it all with a grain of salt and said, “Hey, everything happens for a reason. This is a good thing.” This happened for a reason, and it only means that I’m going to start my career as a solo artist even sooner.
What did it mean to perform with your parents this week?
My parents have basically just taught me the rules of the stage and everything since I was eight…It’s always been a dream of mine to get somewhere, and just as important to me, it would be an honor to have my mom, my dad, to have them with me up there. So I got to go back home and play with their band, and having (her father) on stage and actually getting to give him a couple licks and show America what he could do, that was just so special to me.
In hindsight, would you have done anything differently on Wednesday?
I don’t live in regret, really. There’s of course gonna be some things, and I do nitpick. I’m a Virgo. Other than that, I don’t regret anything. Each step along this way has gotten me to where I am today. Each song and the genres I got to show off in the early stages of everything, I wouldn’t trade that for the world. I got to show versatility, and I’m proud to do that.
You covered a lot of territory on the show. What would you like your album to be like?
I have a lot of ideas, even from now into the future, of what I’d like to do. I would love to do an album that’s like sultry, bluesy rock. I absolutely love jazz, so if I can slip that in there somewhere or even in the future get more into jazz…(But) I definitely am loving the sultry, bluesy rock feel.
If you could work with some of the folks you met and worked with on the show, who would it be?
Well, Steven (Tyler), y’know. I love classic rock. Just growing up with rock ‘n’ roll in my life, if I could so something with him that would be fantastic. Otherwise there’s plenty of people out there I would love to collaborate with. I adore Corinne Bailey Rae. I adore Esperanza Spalding, Janelle Monae — those three women, I believe, are very unique and powerful in their own ways. I hope to do something just as cool.
Is there one moment you’d most want people to remember from the show?
I picked “Bennie and the Jets” last night because I felt that was a big turning point. I had good performances leading up to that; starting with “You Really Got Me,” they started seeing, “Oh, this is what you want to do.” With “Bennie and the Jets,” I had a whole vision of how I wanted it to pan out. It was my arrangement, how I wanted it to start off jazzy and slower, then rock out by the end of it. I planned that whole thing on the piano and it worked out very well, so I guess I would say that performance.
Did the rumors about you and Casey dating help or hurt in any way? Was it a distraction?
Y’know, not really, and we didn’t really give into them at all. We never said yes or no. We laughed about it. That’s probably the better thing to do. Obviously we have a really, really strong relationship — maybe not dating, but just the musicality between us and everything else has been just wonderful. We got so many questions about it. Either way, it’s not going to hurt anybody. We had a lot of fun with it. We played the game. It was fun.
What qualities about Lauren and Scotty make them the “American Idol?”
As far as the viewers of the show, this is perfect for them. We have a very young audience out there, and they’re both so darn cute and they’ve got that country calling. This is a country year, and I’m excited to see what happens. I definitely see young America being very captivated by these two.
So go out on a limb and predict who’s going to win.
Naaaaah, you know I can’t do that. It’s a close one, and it’s so close ’cause they’re in such a close lane together as far as country guys. So it’s anybody’s game, man.