Heejun Han knows he’s got to step up his game on “American Idol.” The 22-year-old singer, who’s usually a jokester in interviews, was very solemn when Zap2it spoke with him ahead of Top 9 “songs from your idols” week.
That probably has something to do with the negative feedback he got from judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler and mentor Jimmy Iovine after he let loose during an upbeat performance of Billy Joel’s “My Life.” He was accused of not taking the music industry seriously and disrespecting the competition, something Han tells Zap2it he never intended to do.
“I just wanted to have fun last week, to show who I really was,” he says of breaking free from his standard repertoire of ballads. “They
took it the wrong way, so it was really a tough week thinking ‘Do I
really belong here? Do I really deserve this spot?'”
He said something to that effect on stage when Ryan Seacrest announced the bottom 3, which he says was taken the wrong way.
“I was really
honored to stand right next to a great singer like Erika [Van Pelt, who was ultimately sent home]. We
came from 100,000 people to Top 9, and … this is a spot more than I deserve, honestly. That’s when I said I
don’t want to be a star — it’s coming from a thought saying my priority
is to help the kids first, and show the world that you can become
someone if you truly believe in yourself, and then my
career comes next. That was the thought, and people took it the wrong
Han’s co-finalist Skylar Laine echoes his statement. “They took it the wrong way. We knew what he meant.”
Essentially, Han is saying that it’s not that he doesn’t want to win — he just never realized he could before now. That’s changed his entire outlook on the competition.
“To be honest, Top 9 was beyond my goal. My goal was to make it
to Top 24,” he says. “But after last week, I realized there are just so many people
who believe in me and so many people that I was representing at this
point, so my attitude towards the competition slightly changed. Now I
want to be more greedy about it. Now I want to be more hungry about it.”