Carly Smithson, American Idol Season 7

FOX

Carly Smithson is not upset about her American Idol ouster. Nor is she without theories as to why it happened.

"Maybe it was too late I realized not to take everything so seriously," Smithson told reporters this morning. The judges "were a lot harder on me than the other contestants, so I think maybe it got to me for a few weeks."

Smithson, 24, didn't sound at all bitter, not even when discussing her harshest taskmaster: judge Simon Cowell, who actually praised her Tuesday performance of "Jesus Christ Superstar."

"It's like he set this high bar for me straight away," Smithson said. "It was like I was trying to beat myself week after week."

Smithson's Idol run ended Wednesday, the latest in this season's patented shockingly early exits, after Michael Johns and Amanda Overmyer—Smithson's personal favorite.

Pegged by pundits to make it to the top three, at least, Smithson finished sixth. Which Smithson insisted was fine by her.

"It definitely feels a lot greater going out sixth this year than it would have any other year," she said. "I'm cool. I'm so happy. I feel like I've just been given the greatest gift ever."

Last night, judges Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul reacted to Smithson's elimination by saying that popularity had trumped pipes.

"I agree a little bit. I kind of started out on the show with some bad press," Smithson said. "I don't think it really helped me."

Smithson was apparently referring to being labeled a ringer, a pro in Idol's supposedly amateur contest, for her 2001 major label album, Ultimate High.

Another theory: Her gender, female, not playing well to the show's voting majority, also female.

"They vote for boys," Smithson said. "The boys are adorable...and they're very talented, too. But I definitely think it was more of a struggle for the ladies."

In the end, Smithson was at peace with her season—the results of last night's show included.

"I'm free now to go make a record, and start writing and be with my husband, and hang out in the real world," she said. "Because the Idol bubble is kind of weird."

Other tidbits:

  • Smithson's remark last night about remembering her lyrics was not a swipe at Brooke White, who totally forgot her lyrics Tuesday. It was Smithson's swipe at herself for missing some of her own words Tuesday.  
  • Smithson is "very proud" of Ultimate High, which sold fewer than 500 copies upon release. "But at the same time I was 15 [when she was signed]," she said. "I just feel like such a different person."
  • The Irish-born singer first auditioned successfully for Idol in 2005, but visa issues ended her run before it began. Despite all the false career starts, Smithson said she looked at this season's Idol as "my first chance."
  • If she'd survived to Neil Diamond week, Smithson would have made like a good Boston Red Sox fan and belted "Sweet Caroline"—"ballad-ish, with a cello and piano."
  • Shocking exits are not so shocking to Smithson anymore. "My favorite went a long time ago. My favorite was Amanda Overmyer," she said. "I thought she was fantastic."
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