It was the hairdo that shocked American Idol viewers Wednesday night.
Unfortunately, Erika Van Pelt's drastic hair change got the audience talking, just not voting, as she was eliminated last night. So does she regret cutting and dying her hair? Erika spoke with reporters on a conference call this morning to talk about the hair change. And the vocal injury you never knew she had!
Plus, has she spoken with Jermaine Jones, her fellow contestant who was disqualified from the competition last week?
"Very, very dramatic," she says with a laugh when her drastic new 'do is brought up. "I'm sure it confused some people that may have a little trouble either with change or thinking a little bit outside of the box."
So, does she regret cutting and dying her hair the day before the performance show just to end up being eliminated the very same week? "I don't regret changing it at all...I don't think it was detrimental to me. If anything, I feel like it got a few more people to at least notice," she says. "This was my chance to break out. Tommy [Hilfiger] had the idea to go short and it was my idea to go dark and just take it one step further."
Erika reveals she actually wanted to change her hair earlier in the competition and wasn't allowed to until Hilfiger offered up the idea: "Every time I had asked to change my hair, I was not allowed to because of consistency with the show. They didn't want to scare people before they had really gotten a chance to know me. I wasn't allowed to do anything with my hair."
While Erika was extremely open to Hilfiger's suggestion to cut her hair, some of the other contestants, namely Phillip Phillips and Colton Dixon, weren't exactly happy with some of the image consultant's comments. "I am so go with the flow. It's hard for me to imagine not taking risks. I feel like I've always done that," Erika explains. "Some people may be afraid of change and on the other hand, some people might be so sure of themselves they are not willing to budge one bit. I understand both angles."
Obviously, the subject of Jones' shocking exit from the competition came up and Erika says the "gentle giant" is doing well in the aftermath of his disqualification. "I still talk to him on the regular...he's doing well as far as I know now," Erika says.
Unfortunately, the three judges didn't use their one save to keep Erika in the competition, a decision she says she saw coming. "I had my preconceived notions as to why they wouldn't [use the save] if I ended up in the bottom. For me, I was already mentally prepared for that," she says. "I know with what happened last year with Pia Toscano and them using their save early on with Casey [Abrams] that it was going to be hard for me. They have a little post-traumatic stress, which is understandable, and feel like they may need to save it for an even crazier elimination."
With Jessica Sanchez, Hollie Cavanagh, Phillip and Colton all being frontrunners from the get-go, Erika thinks her slow start on the show lead to her elimination. "I felt like I didn't have enough momentum right out of the gate," she says. "Even though I was progressing every week and coming more out of my shell, I feel like regardless of my solid performances, I feel like every time I hit that stage it was one of those things where I didn't gain enough momentum at the beginning and I sort of ended up lagging behind a little bit just in the minds of the voters."
One secret Erika reveals? She has a vocal nodule, an injury that was never talked about on the show. "This is a weird thing. I was actually listening to recordings of myself from four or five years ago when the nodule wasn't present on my vocal chords and I certainly sound completely different," Erika explains. "It's taken away part of my range certainly, which is another thing that I felt may have been detrimental to me in this competition because people like to hear those high notes. That's just not my style. It's been hard. It's certainly something that I'm trying to maintain and not let get any worse."
Do you think Erika's drastic hair change hurt her in the competition? Were you sad to see her go? Sound off in the comments!