LOS ANGELES Ousted "American Idol" singer Elise Testone said on Friday she was proud of her song choices and performances on the show, even though they may not have connected with the voting public.
But bluesy rock singer Testone, the oldest of the contest's Top 10 at 28, said she had hoped to stay on and fight another day.
"I was a little bit surprised because in my heart I didn't feel it was time for me to go. But it wasn't a total shock because being in the bottom three that many times it was inevitable it would happen sometime. But I guess I just felt like a fighter and that I was going to push through," Testone told reporters the day after her exit.
Testone finished in 6th place in the TV competition after her rendition this week of Queen's "I Want it All" and the Jimi Hendrix number "Bold as Love" - songs that reflected her rocker style - were criticized by the judges.
The songs put the vocal coach from South Carolina in the bottom three yet again.
"I think the majority of voting comes from middle America so if I can't win them over it's not going to happen. I felt if I was honest and sung from my heart and my passion, that was the best I could do," Testone said.
"Those were the best choices for me," she said of her performances this week, "but probably the majority of people at home want to be able to sing along."
Over the last several weeks on the show, a frustrated Testone challenged some of the conflicting comments from the "Idol" judges and the show's record producer mentor Jimmy Iovine.
"I felt like sometimes the criticism didn't line up, or it was discrediting the things I have achieved...so that was hard," she said.
"I am confident in myself, and that's why I did speak up sometimes because I believe in certain things and I don't want to just keep my mouth shut and smile. I never was trying to be rude or argumentative. It was just honesty," she added.
Testone's exit leaves five singers in the battle for the "American Idol" title and a recording contract. Next week Hollie Cavanagh, Skylar Laine, Joshua Ledet, Phillip Phillips and Jessica Sanchez will sing for America's votes in a British-themed show, and both Coldplay and former "Idol" champion Carrie Underwood will perform.
(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy)