Michael Johns‘ version of Aerosmith‘s “Dream On” during “Inspirational Song Week” didn’t inspire enough votes to keep him on the show, resulting in the most shocking elimination night on American Idol so far. “Nothing has sunk in quite yet,” Johns told reporters during a conference call Thursday. Still, the Australia native is feeling the love of fans, including Dolly Parton, Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban — and PEOPLE.com readers. Johns also spoke about being compared to Chris Daughtry, Ryan Seacrest‘s misleading comment about eliminations during Idol Gives Back and which Mariah Carey song he planned to sing next week.
How did you feel when you heard that you were eliminated?I would be lying if I said I wasn’t shocked. I hadn’t been in the bottom three and I thought definitely the last two or three weeks had been my strongest.
Ryan played a little trick on you and the audience. He said last year no one got kicked off after Idol Gives Back but you’re going home. How did you feel about that?I get the television aspect of this competition but it was tough because I thought, “Okay, I’m going home.” And then they say that, and I’m like, “Oh, wait a second. I’m not going home. Maybe they’re just having a good laugh.” And I hadn’t been in the bottom three before so I’m thinking that’s a possibility. But when reality set in and Ryan gave me a look as if to say, “Look, I’m sorry. I’m really sorry I had to do that,” you get it. You’re in this business and you get it. I don’t hold it against Ryan.
Which Mariah Carey song were you planning on doing next week if you had stuck around?A really cool soul, blues/soul version of “Vision of Love.”
What do Australians do to drown their sorrow?Pick your poison — beer or whatever. We’re pretty good beer drinking at our country so that’s probably what I’ll do here in a bit.
How was it working for you with Dolly Parton?Absolutely amazing. I even got to speak to her this morning and she was just saying what a fan of mine she was. It’s just so surreal to hear Dolly Parton saying that, “I can’t wait to sing a duet with you someday.” That’s just awesome.
Did she call out of the blue?I was on the line with Fox and Friends, I think, this morning doing an interview and then they were on an interview with Dolly and Lily Tomlin talking about the Nine to Five musical. I don’t know how she was made aware of it but all of a sudden Dolly was talking to me saying, “Michael, I can’t believe you got voted off. That was really shocking to me.” And the fact that she loved what I did with her song was amazing to me and that she said she would love to write and maybe do a duet one of these days, so that was pretty cool.
Where did you get that Dolly Parton T-shirt?I’m glad someone recognized it. I was backstage getting dressed for the show, putting our outfits on and everything and one of the stylists just hung up this vintage Dolly Parton T-shirt just on the door for a gag. And I said, “What is that?” And he said, “It’s a Dolly Parton T-shirt.” And I said, “Can I wear it?” and he said, “No, no. It’s just a gag.” And I said, “Oh no, I’m going on TV and wearing it.”
Have you heard from any other famous fans?I got a reach out from Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman saying that I was their favorite and they watched every week. It’s just amazing how far this show reaches.
In what form was the message? Did they call? Email?It was a message passed on to me at an event we went to on Wednesday night after Idol Gives Back. It was the last thing I was expecting to here but any time you can get two great Australians saying that to you is an honor.
There have been some comparisons between you and Chris Daughtry and how you were eliminated way before your time. Do you see yourself at all as the Daughtry of this season?I’ve been hearing that a bunch actually this morning and what an honor. Chris is an amazing artist and a great guy above that. I’ve gotten to meet him a few times and everyone has nothing but good things to say about him so to be put in that category I feel very fortunate.
Thousands of PEOPLE.com readers commented about how much your elimination shocked them. How does that feel?Nothing has sunk in quite yet. The backlash against the elimination that I’m seeing — snippets of the press and talking to you guys — means a lot. It means that I’ve struck a nerve somewhere and this year more than any other year, I believe, especially with this Top 8, you can’t let the person that’s your favorite go. “Oh, he had a great week,” or, “She had a great week,” and “I’m going to give them half of my votes and then I’m going to do the other one that didn’t do so well.” A split vote like that could happen and unfortunately the that you thought were going to be safe, go home.
Anything you want to say to those who have been supporting you?It’s been overwhelming. I’ve been getting letter and flowers and all sorts of gifts and stuff. Thank you. I’ll see you on tour. I’m going to give you guys a good record to buy next year. Frank Micelotta/FOX