Certain performances from American Idol are so memorable that the songs should probably be sealed away in the Idol vault — like Haley Reinhart's Season 10 rendition of "Bennie and the Jets." So when Season 13 contestant Ben Briley dusted off the Elton John classic last week, longtime viewers inevitably drew comparisons to Reinhart's version.
"I was a big fan of Haley Reinhart when she did it," Briley tells TVGuide.com. "Honestly, it didn't really matter ... The whole goal was to show people a different side of who I was as an artist, and I thought that was a good way to show that."
It didn't pay off though, as Briley was eliminated the following night. "I will say that it ultimately was probably the song choice that got me sent home," he admits. But I wouldn't have picked another song."
Though the Idol judges encourage competitors to take risks and step outside of their comfort zones as artists, they admitted that they were "confused" by Briley's attempt to switch things up. And he, in turn, was confused by their feedback.
"One contestant, they'll say to him, 'You need to go outside your comfort zone and be more unpredictable,'" Briley says. "And somebody finally does go out and take a risk, and it doesn't work out so well."
The performance, Briley says, was "more about showing my versatility. No one knew I could play piano. No one had seen me dressed up. The goal was to say, 'Hey, look. I don't always wear a cap all the time. No, I don't always have jeans and boots on. I can dress up when I need to and I can be professional if I need to.' I didn't want anybody to think I was too laid-back."
Check out Briley's answers to our American Idol exit interview lightning round below. Were you disappointed to see him go home?
1. Name three albums you would bring with you to a desert island. Legacy of Cash, Johnny Cash; The Essential Willie Nelson, and ... oh man, the third one's hard. It's either going to be The White Album by The Beatles; or Pronounced Leh-nerd Skin-nerd, which is Lynyrd Skynyrd's first album.
2. What was the first album you fell in love with? That would be Legacy of Cash.
3. If someone wanted to torture you with a song on repeat, what would it be? Probably "Barbie Girl" by Aqua.
4. Name a song you wish you'd written. "I'm No Stranger to the Rain," Keith Whitley
5. If you could duet with anyone living or dead, who would you pick? Vince Gill
6. What's your most embarrassing karaoke or singing experience? I do remember one time, I was real little. I was singing the National Anthem at a benefit basketball game, and I'm pretty sure I fell on the court. I fell down in front of everybody. I think I was like 8 or 9.
7. What's your favorite album or song that you're listening to currently? "Hey Brother" by Avicii and "Fit for a King" by Garth Brooks.
8. What song or artist made you want to be a singer? Ray Charles is one of my biggest singing influences, as well as piano playing. But also I love Vince Gill. He's a good one. Ricky Skaggs is another one.
9. What's your biggest musical guilty pleasure? Three 6 Mafia
10. What's one song you would have loved to perform on Idol that you didn't get to? "Desperado" by The Eagles.
Will you miss Ben?
American Idol airs Wednesdays at 8/7c and Thursdays at 9/8c on Fox.