Lisa Tucker, the 16-year-old Anaheim, Calif., native with the beyond-her-years vocals, is the latest contestant to be eliminated from American Idol. She talked to PEOPLE about her personal fan club and optimistic attitude.
Simon once said you were the best 16-year-old contestant ever, but he later cooled toward you. What happened?
To be honest, I really, really don’t know. I mean, all I could do is go out and do my best every week, and that’s what I tried to do. But I guess it’s just his opinion.
There are lots of nicknames this season: Mandiva (Mandisa), Chicken Little (Kevin Covais), McPhever (Katharine McPhee). Did you have a nickname?
My fan base in the audience called themselves the Mighty Tucks after the Anaheim Mighty Ducks hockey team. So I guess that was my nickname. But who knows if it helped me?
Did it sting when Ryan Seacrest asked the judges why you and Katharine were in the bottom two, "especially Katharine"?
Not at all. It was her first time in the bottom, so I wasn’t surprised at all. It didn’t hurt my feelings. I don’t sweat the small stuff. I’m always smiling and optimistic – that’s just how I am.
Why did you decide to sing Kelly Clarkson’s "Because of You"?
I was going through a whole list of songs, and I just made a full turn around back to this song. I thoroughly thought out all the risks that I was taking, and I just wanted a real singer’s song and I wanted to show everyone that I could sing. I was considering some Alicia Keys songs and some Gavin Degraw songs, but you have to get things cleared (to get permission to perform them).
Do you think your age played a part in your elimination?
I don’t think age really plays a factor in it. It’s just what America votes on.
How did it feel to be onstage in the bottom two?
I was prepared for anything that was going to happen, so I just took it in stride. I knew that I was going to be okay whether or not I was going home.