Michael Becker / FOX
Burnell Taylor sure knows how to make an exit: After the 19-year-old Louisiana R&B singer learned on tonight's American Idol that he'd be going home, he began performing his swan song, "Ready for Love," to the crowd and finished it by singing directly to fellow contestant Amber Holcomb--and then planting a kiss on her cheek. Awww!
Might the PDA mean the two are officially dating? Backstage after the show, Burnell all but confirmed it, explaining that despite what his fellow contestants had said during Wednesday's performance show, he's not nursing a crush on the powerhouse-piped Amber. "A crush only involves one person," Burnell told us. "So it ain't a crush…We like each other." Nice! So it's mutual, and we hope those two crazy kids make it.
So what did Amber say to him after he was eliminated? "She didn't say much because everybody was crying," said Burnell, who--spoiler alert!--revealed the two will be doing a duet together on this summer's Idol tour. "I didn't wanna cry but unfortunately, I did. But we'll talk later."
There was no shortage of tears as Burnell became the fourth guy in a row this season to be sent packing. From good friend Candice Glover
to judges Mariah Carey
and Nicki Minaj
, there was plenty of smeared mascara to go around. "I wasn't expecting Nicki to cry," admitted Burnell. (Considering how the judge feels about the guys
this season, neither were we!) "But I've gained a higher respect just seeing how she really cares about me. It means a lot."
Burnell was less surprised by the voting results. He had a feeling all week that he would be sent home, and told us: "It was basically God giving me a sign so that I could be prepared. I feel like I went out with a bang. I did what I was supposed to do, and hopefully somebody will reach out to me."
On his wish music-industry wish list? Frank Ocean
, Bruno Mars
and Chris Brown
. "By the time I'm 25, I better have at least six Grammys!" Burnell told us. "If I've gotta [appear] on Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel and Animal Planet, I'm doing everything I can do to keep my name hot."
For now, the New Orleans native--who lost 40 pounds between his first season-12 Idol audition and his induction into the Top 10--is looking forward to hitting the treadmill back home and celebrating his 20th birthday on April 14. "Everything happens for a reason," he said of his exit. "And now it's time for me to kill it."