Ace Young, <EM>American Idol</EM> Ace Young, American Idol

Six weeks ago, if anyone had told you that Ace Young  he of the wavy hair, soulful eyes and "Father Figure" flourishes  wouldn't make the final four of Fox's American Idol (Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 9 pm/ET), you'd have thought them crazy like William Hung. The Denver native, though, confirmed the improbable when he crooned "That's All" for his final performance.

What went wrong for the cutie crooner? "I don't think anything went wrong," he says. "I think that on any given night, anything can happen."

Anything, indeed, as evidenced by who joined Ace in the bottom two  the competition's other (and more legitimate, talent-wise) front-runner, Chris Daughtry  an outcome that shocked Ace more so than his own showing. "I was more surprised [by that]," he shares. "I think it was a really good wakeup call for [Chris'] fans to know that their votes definitely count."

One vote that carries a lot of weight is, of course, Simon Cowell's. Although Idol's most stalwart judge gave Ace's "That's All" a so-so review  "nasally" but "charming," he said  Ace shares that after his exit, "Simon came up to me, shook my hand, gave me a hug and said, 'I have a feeling I'm going to see a lot of you.' I looked at him, smiled and said, 'I'm going to hold you to two things: After I sang "Father Figure," you said, "You definitely have the X factor, and it's obvious you're a star." Simon looked me right in the eyes and said, 'I hope you do hold me to that. You earned that.'"

In a conference call with reporters, Ace also had this to say about...

... the celebrity guest who gave the best advice:
"Kenny Rogers [said] to pour your heart and soul into every song. I really didn't sing a lot of country before this competition, but the country week was a lot of fun for me and I shined in it. His advice definitely pulled me through."

... drawing an "Ace" for a name:
"My great-grandfather's name was Asa and he went by Ace his whole life, so my parents named me Ace."

... his personal-favorite Idol performance:
"It would have to be 'Father Figure.' I really enjoyed it."

... the songs he'd have died 2 do 4 U, but couldn't:
"There were some Prince songs I really wanted to do [but couldn't get cleared]. That would have been a good [theme] week for me."

 ... "suiting up" for what turned out to be his swan song:
"That was the first suit I've ever bought in my life. [Paired with slicked-back hair] I thought it was a perfect way for me to go out because it was the first show I had done with my grandparents, who had played in the big-band era, in the audience. I felt like I got dressed up for them."

... Chris, whose place he offered to take if he had been voted off last week:
"He and I really clicked from the beginning because we kind of have the same upbringing  we're big on family, we're big on people, and he, just like me, can't wait to shake hands with the fans and give them hugs and say 'thank you.'"

... and, speaking of hugs, what he looks for in a special someone:
"I really like someone who has direction. If you have drive and you know what you want to do, I support you 100 percent. That's the sexiest thing that I could look for in anybody."

Why do so many people risk making fools of themselves on shows like American Idol? Find out.