New Yorker Karen Rodriguez came onto the show as a girl who looked up to American Idol judge Jennifer Lopez, but sadly Top 12 was as far as she made it. After singing “Love Will Lead You Back,” she did not get enough votes and sadly had to say goodbye. OK! caught up with Karen and we talked about whether the mansion is really haunted, who her best friend in the house was and how she is liking her experience on Twitter.
Did you think you were going to get voted off?
I don’t think anybody thinks they will. We go out there and try to give it our best 100 percent of the time. I thought I had a good performance, the judges seemed to agree. Jennifer definitely gave me great criticism. But things didn’t turn out as I planned. I was part of that original top 10 when they first chose before they chose the wildcards. If they had never chosen the wildcards, that would have been the top 10. I can’t really do anything about that, it’s up to America.
What was it like getting to know Jennifer Lopez?
It was awesome. She has been one of my inspirations for a really long time. Not a lot of people can say they went on American Idol and sang to one of their idols week after week. Every single criticism that she gave me, I listened to it and applied it to myself. I am really glad that she is part of the panel because she brings something new and something fresh. She’s current and very sweet. She criticizes you but doesn’t try to break you down. None of the judges do that.
Do you wish you had been judged by Simon Cowell?
Oh man, I don’t even know what that would have felt like. It probably took the stress off of people who tried out this year.
How was the interaction with the other judges?
Whenever I would see Steven Tyler backstage, he would always give me hugs and kisses. He always mentioned that he loved when I sang in Spanish. I feel that as a musician, he really appreciated uniqueness. With Randy Jackson, and all the judges, after I got eliminated he gave me big hugs. Randy said that I was amazing and to keep going.
You had said you didn’t only want to be known as a Latino singer, did you plan to always have Spanish in your songs?
That wasn’t something that I was thinking of doing every single week. I didn’t want to alienate every other person in America. But for me it was very important to be true to who I am. Out of all the songs I sang which was about 8 or 9 songs, but I only sang two of them with Spanish. It was just the recent ones. Some of them they didn’t really show.
And they have never had a Latino Idol?
No, they have never have. I know I didn’t get to make it to that title. But winning American Idol is not everything. Especially when it’s been proven that you don’t have to win to be successful. I can still be that Idol in people’s eyes, maybe not through American Idol’s standard, but through my own way. I am never going to quit my dream and this is step one to the rest of my career.
Is is true the Idol mansion is haunted?
I heard about that and I can not believe it. I don’t think it’s haunted. Maybe it misses me. The doors would open and close all the time, but because of the wind. I heard something about a sheet flying around? I don’t know. I texted Jacob Lusk and said you must have started the whole thing. He responded: LOL.
What was it like living there?
Besides the whole haunted part, I loved it. For me, I always kind of imagined myself living in a mansion. I never expected to be living in a mansion at 21 years old. I thought once I am established I am going to have a nice little place in Beverly Hills. To actually live there was just crazy.
Who are you closest to? Who is the quietest?
The closest to me is Jacob, of course. Jacob and I are best friends. Thia Megia is probably the shyest. She is the youngest one, she is always with Mom. We had to shake her up a little bit as big sisters. She’s very young and very sweet. Jacob is definitely the loudest. The same way you hear him on stage is the same way he is in life. He’s a great guy.
Do you feel like you are competing with each other?
No! For me, it’s not a competition. I was there to show America who I was. I was there to make it known that this is the type of music that I love to sing. It’s what you do after American Idol that counts. I feel like I have achieved that. I have not only America but Latin American now supporting me. That was my purpose. I plan to get a career out of this. I am not sad about leaving American Idol. This is where the fun begins.
You went to high school with Pia Toscano. Is it hard to see her move further?
No. Everything happens for a reason. If it was Pia’s destiny to stay on the show and mine was to leave, maybe I didn’t need to be so far in the competition. That’s the way I see it. American Idol is beautiful, I love the experience. You have a desire to get to know what’s going on out there. I know the time for me is going to come.
What has the Twitter experience been like?
Twitter has been great. For me, it’s really great to connect with my fans. They call me “Queen Twitter” because I send the most tweets, the one that is always replying. These are the people who are going to buy your albums and follow you. It’s a way to reach the fans. We’re not idols, we’re just normal people who love what we do. We’ve just been given gifts that we can share with the world. I love Twitter because I can remind people that I’m normal. I tweet every single day.
Have you watched Idol before? Who were your favorites?
I never really watched it. I think that made my experience a little bit better because I didn’t know what was going on. I did like David Archuleta, Jordin Sparks and Carrie Underwood. They are still known. They are not some of those Idols that have pretty much went away. Jordin because she was the youngest, and Carrie the most successful. And David, he is just a cutie. He loves Selena too. I connect with him on that part.
What was it like meeting Nick Jonas on the Ryan Seacrest radio show? Is your sister going to meet him?
It was great. When they asked me what I wanted to talk to Ryan about on Idol, I remember that my sister had sent him a letter through my mom. I thought why don’t I just talk about how much my sister loves Nick Jonas. Nick heard it, he contacted Ryan and he flew in on that day. He flew in just for that. So many fans appreciate Nick Jonas even more, he took the time out to make a dream come true for a 15 year old girl. I wanted to be there for her. She really inspired me to audition this year. Because of her, I made it. He said whenever he is in New York to call him and we’ll get to see him. That’s great, the power of TV and the power of having a great heart. That’s something I would totally do for my fans.