Michael Becker/Fox/PictureGroup
Cynthia Wang
May 06, 2011 06:15 PM

After an emotionally draining experience on American Idol in which he would be judged as pitchy one week and then on par with Luther Vandross the next, Jacob Lusk exited the competition this week after tough performances of “No Air” and “Love Hurts.”

Still, an upbeat Lusk, the 23-year-old church singer and spa concierge from Compton, Calif., talked to reporters about the ouster and what’s next.

Having been in the bottom three before, did you think your time was up?
I had expected it not because of my bottom three finishes but because of the judges’ feedback and my performances this past week. I feel that I was the only one who wasn’t in his element this week. Everyone else was in their element and I did songs that weren’t in my genre that weren’t really my thing. … This wasn’t the time to do that, and I feel that’s why I was voted off, not because I was horrible or they didn’t like me or they liked somebody else better. Those four people that are there were amazing.

Was the pressure of the competition getting to you?
I wouldn’t say the pressure was getting to me. I will say I was getting a little tired probably. I was really just trying to do different things that [producer Jimmy Iovine] thought I would like. But at the end of the day, I really said, ‘I’m going to go out there and give it my all and I am not going to hold anything back.’

You had differences with Iovine and he had some criticism for you. Did that affect you?
I wouldn’t call it soul destroying, but it definitely hurts a lot to have someone who is supposed to be mentoring me, and it feels like every time you turn around, [he] is kind of tearing you down. But what you have to remember is that you’re actually not doing it for him, but you are doing it for the people out there in America and they are the people who are voting. It definitely hurts and it’s definitely hard to have someone beat you over the head with a baseball bat and then say, ‘Now go ahead and sing for your life.’

To that end, what will your first album sound like?
You are going to hear some traditional R&B, which I feel is missing from the scene. There aren’t any Luther Vandrosses or Teddy Pendergrasses or Marvin Gaye singers out right now. That’s what I desire to bring to people, and that’s what I bring naturally. I don’t have to try to do that, so that’s what you’re going to hear. You’re going to hear “Your House Is Not a Home” and those love ballads. You’re going to hear that and definitely some inspirational stuff. I will encourage people to keep living and keep fighting.

The judges said you hit the highest note ever on Idol. Can you go higher?
I have sung higher! I have broken a glass but not with my singing, because I’m kind of clumsy. But I have definitely sung a lot higher than that.

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