'American Idol' exit Q&A: Paul McDonald says 'it was about my time to cruise out!' -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

Back during Top 12 week, American Idol judge Steven Tyler memorably called Paul McDonald “a cool dude in a loose mood,” after he sang Elton John’s “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues.” And that description couldn’t have been more apt for the 26-year-old Alabama native last night after he got the news that he had been eliminated from the singing competition. “I think it was about my time to cruise out!” the easy-breezy McDonald told EW in an exclusive backstage interview about an hour after the show ended. “Even will.i.am and those guys were like, ‘Dude, I know you’re a real artist. It’s killing you to do these covers.'” McDonald even said that he woke up Thursday morning with a premonition that it might be the end of the road for him. “It was weird, man, I had a feeling about it,” he continued. “When I got up there, I was completely at peace. It was good, man, you know, because I looked over, and I saw these kids, man, that they’ve dreamed of winning American Idol forever. So I’m like, ‘Go get it, win this thing!'”

McDonald also revealed much more in his chat with EW: which artists he was toying with performing for next week’s show (note: not James Blunt, despite the suggestions!); which Idol contestant he’s going to miss the most (she is of the opposite sex!); and which of the songs he sang on the show was his favorite (it’s not what you might guess!). For all those details and more, check out the full interview below:

For more contestant videos, photos, and Idol news, check out americanidol.com.

Read more:
‘American Idol’ official website
EW.com’s ‘American Idol’ Central
‘American Idol’ recap: Guy’s Night Out

Comments (63 total) Add your comment
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  • Dana

    Good Luck sweet Paul…your upbeat demeanor and that gorgeous face will be missed.

    • Luisa

      yes loved u

  • melly

    He was right, it was his time to go. The competition this year has had the most diverse group of singers. It has been a pleasure to watch them all grow and I will definitely miss Paul, what a sweet guy.

    • well

      Jacob Lusk should have been gone instead of Paul. I can’t believe Jacob was not in the bottom.

      • Mik

        AMEN! I can’t stand his over emoting and crazy facial expressions.

      • Lee

        You said it, well. I was surprised Jacob wasn’t at least in the Bottom 3. His vocals were very screechy. But because the judges are deaf to pitchiness this season and didn’t call him out on it–I have no idea who’s voting for him.

      • Anna

        I agree about Jacob and a few others. I feel it is all rigged anyway.

    • Gran in Can

      Jacob will be the next one to go.
      That’s my prediction

  • Lame!

    Who the heck is in charge of this site? Under the “latest headlines” column on the right side of the page, it teases “Idol: Singer going home this week is …” which I get. They don’t want to spoil for those who haven’t seen last night episode. But then you have this article that SCREAMS who got sent home! What a JOKE!

    • Zakry

      Just watch the show on time and quite worrying about it.

      • Vince from NYC

        Or don’t go to any entertainment or news websites , watch TV or read the papers. Put yourself in a bubble. I’m a European Soccer fan. Sometimes big games occur during the middle of the work day ( evening in europe) So I stay away from all sports sites and don’t talk or even look at other soccer fans until I get home. I don’t even read texts or take calls from them..You can’t blame an entertainment site for reporting on entertainment news.

      • Tuzo

        I think @Lame! has a valid point. Some people use RSS feeds to get the headlines so they have to remember to hide all of your headlines for entertainment websites or unsubscribe from those feeds before the show you didn’t know you were going to miss so you don’t see the spoilers.
        Also, it seems EW doesn’t *want* to run spoilers since the headlines are usually discreet and don’t announce spoilers.

  • Petra

    Paul’s a cool guy and I think his exposure will be a big boost to what appears to be a hot, rising Grand Magnolia band. (Casey James got a similar boost and now is getting better paid work with his new Casey James Band).

    Love how Paul was being big bro and the pro musician who has been at this awhile to some of the younger contestants as well as his little sis Lauren Alaina from the same neck of the woods.

    Love the ending, as Paul is almost clobbered by crew moving stuff.

    • jill

      Thank you American Idol for introducing Paul McDonald to us. I loved his sound so much, I googled him and found his bands website, and fabulous original music. Watch out America for The Grand Magnolias!! Heartbreak is my favorite – I can’t hear it enough. Check it out !

  • Carol

    As a tv show I enjoyed watching Paul. I actually thought it was Stefano’s time to go.

    • Ange

      I agree, Stefano should have gone awhile ago. I have no idea how he keeps having the luck to stay!

    • McFudge

      It was Jacob Lusk’s time to go.

    • Lee

      It’s called a pretty face. You think it Stefano was ugly as sin he would still be there. There’s a reason why TV favors pretty boys like Stefano instead of radio.

      • TC

        the guy can sing

  • yawn

    Good luck and best wishes!

  • Steph

    LOVE you Paul. Will buy whatever you make and line up for whenever you play.

  • thebigone

    America got it 100% right this week. About time.

  • ia

    PAUL, you are one civil and respectful human being. To your “thank-you,” I reply: “You’re welcome.” I feel bad you didn’t go further on the AI “train,” but I know you will be around to make some great CD. I look forward to that very, very much! Best wishes always, PAUL! And keep wearin’ your rose adorned suits!

    • Petra

      Special man which a heart, soul and a wonderful stage presence and loved his voice………..

      • agreed

        He was very modest and humble. Very genuine guy. I love love love his music.

    • Mandy

      AGREE with everything you said!! LOVE YOU PAUL!!

  • Stefano

    is still there, he must be getting votes from vote for the worst, Casey, as well, this season’s group is lackluster, to say the least

    • Aunt Sassy

      Sorry, I think Paul was the Vote for the Worst choice – or at least he should have been.

      • idk

        what ?

      • AnnMarie

        The thing that annoyed me the most about VFTW.com this year is that Paul was their choice every single week. No matter what he did, that’s where he always remained. It’s like they don’t have the capacity to give anything unique a chance. That site is such a joke.

  • Mandy

    I LOVE YOU PAUL!!!! Your AWESOME, I already miss you!!! Can’t wait to hear you on the radio!!! LOVE YOU!!

  • Laurie

    I think it was time for him to go, he was cute but come ON, really? If Simon were judging he never would’ve gotten as far as he did!!! He was a lounge singer, at best.

    • Ange

      In your opinion, sure. But to others, he is authentic, and has a great voice. Love his voice. He’s so much better than stefano for sure!

    • Linda

      There are several “lounge singers” on idol this season, but Paul wasn’t one of them. Paul has toured for 4+ years, played at big music festivals like SXSW and Bonnaroo and opened for the Zac Brown Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Paul is authentic and a heckuva entertainer!

    • idk

      i think paul is the best singer i mean i simon was still on the show the first ones to go would probilly be stafano and jacob lusk

    • Anna

      How do you know? The judges don’t have the final say! I mean they were all for Pia and look what happened! The man has Class! Did he cry like Casey and Pia? Did the medics have to be called in? NO! I agree with Ange, Linda, and idk.Besides anyone who would drive all night to sing at a FRIENDS little girls birthday party is a GREAT Person! He is just one in a Million!


    Paul should not have made the top ten. Goodbye to the Crest smile.

  • sportymom

    What a class act! This years AI is the best of all seasons. The talent pool is unbelieveable and I do think every one of the kids on the show will get a deal except maybe Stefano. He should go into tv. He has the face for it. Paul you should totally do a toothpaste commercial! you have the whitest teeth I have ever seen!
    I hope Lauren wins.

  • tigger851

    stefano or haley should’ve gone home, they are both mediocre at best and who are voting for these ppl? two good ones go home for the last two weeks, stefano being in the bottom three for the past couple of weeks says something about him…….he stinks!

    • Petra

      The only digs I think that can legitimately be made against Haley is she is “inconsistent” or “makes bad song choices occasionally” or “growls too much”.
      But at various points she has demonstated a full suite of stage performing skills, charisma, ability to connect with the audience, and a very likable personality. And she is NOT a mediocre singer. She has true vocal gifts.
      Haley is marketable.
      She’s just 20 and the flaws will get straightened out enough in ensuing years she will have a career doing this.

      Idol has many “imperfect” performers who may not win, but show enough in the competition, get enough of a national fan base of potential customers they get a great shot.
      Each season you can name a few outside the 1-2 finishers that have this capacity. Some may indeed prove non-marketable, but many will have solid careers in entertainment if not superstardom.

      This Season, we already have Thia Megia, Naima Adedapo, Pia, and Paul McDonald (who has progressed after Auburn days to a solid musician, singer-songwriter with a fine, established band).

      I expect Haley to join them and maybe even finish higher on Idol than other gals with “the package” like Brooke White and Siobhan Magnus.

      But this thread is about Paul. He is already a solid pro in the industry and while not a perhaps up to certain talent a one in half a million voice with true soloist possibilities – Paul McDonald is plenty good.
      Good enough to distinguish himself from 5,000 pretty good singers in a pack of 20,000 that auditioned this year, good enough to stand out from the gold ticket creme that went to Hollywood, to be a finalist.
      He has a unique voice. Again, plenty good in band work and that includes some fine solos he is capable of with some practice vs. Idols 2-3 day time to get a song down and sung well.

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