Brooke White, American Idol: Season 7

Frank Micelotta / FOX

For Brooke White, being on American Idol was an emotional experience. And leaving it was "kind of a relief."

"I think after Tuesday night I was ready [to go on]," White told reporters today. "Then I woke up Wednesday morning, and I knew: Brooke, you're going home."

White met her end in Neil Diamond week, and after two performances, one of which was deigned a "nightmare" by judge Simon Cowell. She placed fifth overall.

"I've been packed for two weeks," White admitted.

It was last week that White committed a historic Idol gaffe, stopping and restarting her rendition of "You Must Love Me," because she "lost the lyric." But Carly Smithson, not White, took the fall on results show night.

White was asked whether she had survivor's guilt about the turn of events.

"I don't know if guilt is quite the right word…I was grateful," White said. "This show is very interesting. You never know what's going to happen, and I think you take what you get."

When White's number finally came up, she resolved to stay strong.

"Then—boom—it hit me: This is done," White said. "The finality of the experience being over was sad."

And so White cried. Again.

"I hoped so much I could have been stronger."

Though her morning-after voice was a little hoarse, White sounded chipper enough. A phone call from Carly Simon, a legend after the 24-year-old singer-songwriter's heart, apparently helped.

"It really boosted my spirits," said White, who sang Simon's "You're So Vain" in the semifinals. "It really gave me motivation."

And she didn't get verklempt once relating the story.

Other tidbits:

  • White's take on Paula Abdul's critique of the Jason Castro song not yet sung? "It's live television. Anything can happen. Last week I stopped and restarted my song. It's just human moments…I don't know exactly what happened with Paula. I'm sure she just got lost in the moment. She's a good-hearted woman," she said. "And you move on."
  • And fear not that Castro was affected by the Abdul moment. "Jason's a very laid-back guy," White said. "He was OK."
  • For the record, White does not consider herself a lyric-forgetter, even if she did write a word—palm—on her hand for Tuesday night's show. "I had not had any problems with the lyrics until 'You Must Love Me,' and it started freaking me out," she said.
  • Sure, the Idol finalists got to sing the Beatles this season, but some choice songbooks still remain off-limits. Said White: "I would have loved to sing a Fleetwood Mac song, or a James Taylor song."
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