NEW YORK – Although he was eliminated from "American Idol's" season 10 competition Thursday night, Paul McDonald is still smiling a day later. After performing Bob Seger's "Old Time Rock 'N' Roll" on Wednesday's episode, the Nashville-based rock singer received the fewest votes of the eight contestants and bid farewell with a cover of Rod Stewart's "Maggie May."
While he will watch the season's Top 7 from the sidelines, Paul has a promising year ahead of him: aside from the upcoming "Idol" season 10 tour, the singer's unique voice will be heard in the rock outfit the Grand Magnolias, and he just began a relationship with "Twilight" actress Nikki Reed.
In a conference call today, Paul maintained his carefree attitude while talking about his new romance, his infamous white suit, and Scotty McCreery's many female fans.
Q: You've said that you wish you had done some things differently on the show. What regrets do you have?
A: Some of the song choices that I did weren't probably the best ones for me. When I first tried out, this whole thing was just kinda for fun, and I didn't even expect to get this far in the competition. So when I got up here, I kind of listened to some people when I probably should have stuck with my gut. But other than that, it was fun. I just maybe wish I had done some more of these obscure artists and stuff, more of the vibe of music that I was into. Because it came across onstage -- I didn't feel comfortable a whole lot of the time, just because I felt like it wasn't me all of the time.
Q: You have such a unique voice and style. Coming in, what were your expectations? What did you think America was gonna think of you?
A: In all honesty, I tried not to think of that at all. I never watched the show while I was on it, I never went back and read reviews of what people thought. I was doing exactly what I wanted to do coming in there, although it was tough picking all these different songs and trying to do them. But I was being me. I came in there, and it was funny because the hair and makeup team would be like, "Man, we don't need to do anything to you today." I was like, "All right, cool." And the stylist was like, "I like your clothes better than what we got!" So I just kinda did my own thing, and it worked out good enough for eighth place. So I'm pretty happy about it.
Q: In addition to your singing, you also became known for your flashy outfits. Can you take any of those home?
A: Actually, I got those outfits made for me before the show I broke my bank on that first white suit before I came out to Hollywood. So yeah, I get to keep all of those. They were custom-made for me; my friend back home made them for me. Now I got the white and the black one, so I'll get to keep them forever and wear them for my birthday and for New Year's.
Q: With five girls going home early in the competition, do you feel that the men have an advantage in the early rounds?
A: Oh, I definitely do. It's like the teenage girls are the ones who watch the show the most. I remember walking out on stage and I would look around, and people out in the audience have their posters and signs made. I was like, "Oh, there's one poster over there that says Paul." And then there's like a thousand screaming 14-year-old girls that have Scotty McCreery posters (laughs). So I think the guys definitely have an advantage. It's a shame for the girls, because they're so talented. I don't know too many guys that watch the show; I think it's mostly girls.
Q: There have been reports that you and Nikki Reed have been dating. Is that true?
A: Yes, me and Nikki Reed are dating. It's officially true. She's super smart and a super cool girl, so I'm happy with it. We've been hanging out here and there. We're both pretty busy, but it's been fun so far.
Q: Last night, you seemed to take being voted off so well. How did you stay so optimistic?
A: When I came into the whole "Idol" thing, I had no expectations whatsoever. I never thought about winning or anything -- I just came in and was doing my thing. If I had gotten kicked off months ago, I would have just gone back to doing my thing, and it just kept surprising me how far along I got This is a killer platform for me to get out my original music, which is what I'm better at anyway. So I was just happy to be there. A bunch of the kids, the contestants, they've been watching "Idol" forever and wanting to win this thing. It's one of their hugest dreams. So it's like, "Go get it, guys! Y'all are good, I'm okay, I'm a 26-year-old man."