Curtis Finch, Jr., American Idol

Michael Becker / FOX

Mariah Carey is not a woman who likely waits for anything, and yet there she was on the American Idol stage Thursday night after the show had wrapped, patiently waiting her turn to offer support to Curtis Finch, Jr. after his elimination.

When the diva did finally get to the contestant, she embraced him in a warm hug and spent longer offering him comforting words than I've ever seen any judge do for any Idol in seven seasons of covering the show. (Mimi really cares, y'all!) Backstage, Finch—clearly a Carey favorite—gave us a taste of what the superstar had said to him all that time. "That's my baby!" he exclaimed. "She was really just telling me to stay encouraged and to remain consistent and 100 percent authentic, which I think I've been presenting myself to be to America this whole time."

For a guy who'd just been sent packing, Finch was in good spirits, insisting he didn't blame the judges for choosing not to save him. "You can't go back and redo it," he said. "And at this point, I really don't care because I can't change it."

He was also grateful to Nicki Minaj—who'd watched his performance from backstage Wednesday after failing to make it to the judges' table by showtime—for offering to quit if he was eliminated. "That's mindblowing to me!" he said. "When she said it, I was like, 'Whoa! Stick around, Nicki, because that'll make me tune in.' I have transitioned from a contestant now to a person who's watching the show, and I wanna see her when I turn on American Idol. So I'm glad she didn't walk off.

"I don't think Nicki not being there for my performance really would've changed today," he added. "It is what it is, so we just have to look forward to me doing great things."

And what great things might those be? "I wanna work with Kim Burrell, I wanna work with Usher," Finch said of his post-Idol goals. "I really just want to be successful and make America proud. The next time you see me, I want my resume to be long. And I want to be about 500 pounds lighter! I really want to strive to be the best Curtis I can be."

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