If “American Idol’s” very first Rush Week weren’t nerve-wracking enough, five contestants had to go through the process again on Thursday night as they sang for a Wild Card spot in the Top 13. Ultimately, the judges chose family man C.J. Harris, Detroit teenager Jena Irene and nurse Kristen O’Connor to round out Season 13’s finalists.
“I was sitting on the couch next to so many incredible singers. I was kind of preparing myself knowing that it could go either way but I was really hoping that I would be one of the names called,” O’Connor tells Zap2it on the blue carpet at the Top 13 finalists party in Los Angeles Feb. 20. She was happy with her previous feedback, saying, “The judges had so many good things to say about me after my performance the other night.”
O’Connor continues, “They said ‘You have to really fight for it’ so when I walked up there the nerves weren’t there. I didn’t feel nervous — I just felt like, ‘This is it and I’m gonna leave it all out there.’ I know this is what I’m meant to do. Music is my whole heart and performing is my heart, so I needed to prove that to them, and I think I did.”
Harris was the first wild card hopeful to sing, but Harry Connick Jr. didn’t have many positive things to say about the performance.
Irene knew she’d have to knock it out of the park, but she also knew that she had an advantage singing an original song. “Once my name was called for the wild card I was so happy. The judges put their faith in me and I was just so ready to bring it. It was my original song so I could connect with every lyric,” she explains.
Irene also says she had no idea what to expect from the nationwide vote considering the level of talent competing. “I wasn’t surprised about anything tonight because we’re all so friggin’ talented,” she says.
Watch the Top 13 compete in their first performance show of Season 13 on Wednesday (Feb. 26) at 8 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.