American Idol 12: Devin Velez Talks Nicki Minaj and More (VIDEO)

AMERICAN IDOL: Devin Velez (L) is eliminated on AMERICAN IDOL airing Thursday, March 28 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. Also pictured: Ryan Seacrest (R). CR: Michael Becker / FOX. Copyright: FOX.

In an interview with reporters this afteroon, Devin Velez talked about his time on Idol, how he feels about Nicki Minaj and the trio debacle, and much much more.

Was he unfairly judged on the group song? “Not really unfairly. I think that I am a little at fault. I didn’t forget my lyrics. I think that when you’re in a group, because one person is representing everyone else, I think it should have been my job as a brother to the other two–we maybe could have discussed learning the lyrics a lot better, just because if we knew we were going to be so unsure of our lyrics getting on stage, we probably should not have done the song. What happened–and I tried to save the song to the best of my ability–but it wasn’t my job to do so.  I know that though my solo performance went well–because our group performance was following the solo performance–I know that’s what America remembered freshly in their mind.

About wanting to win Prom King at his military school, “Prom is June 1, and so I’m hoping that with all this publicity and stuff, that I don’t get too busy. Just because I am still a kid and I still do have my last teenage years ahead of me. I want to live them up. My dream has always been to win prom king. I won homecoming king this year… before I came to idol. It’s always been my dream. If this dream was achievable, I don’t think that one is too far out of reach now that I’m going back home.”

Is he ready to concede that a girl is going to win this year, “You know you can never be sure. I know that the odds are scary right now, but if the guys step it up, they do have a chance. I think that all of the people that are left–it’s really scary the way this competition is going to go, just because the talent that’s left is amazing. These people–they are some of the best singers I’ve ever heard.”

When is he going back to Chicago? Will he return to school and his job at Starbucks?  “I’m stopping in New York for a couple of days, then I’m going back home. But when I do get back, I’m hoping to go back to school. I’m not sure how that transition is going to work, just because we did have to sign me out temporarily because I had to miss time for Idol.  As far Starbucks, I kinda want to for the money reasons, it was my job–that was another passion of mine. I don’t know how that’s going to work out. It might be a little hard now that people know who I am–I’m not just going to be writing “caramel macchiato” on cups but, I might be signing them and passing them off, and that’s going to get crazy. I’m debating on whether I’m going back to be a barista or not.”

Will he attend college this fall? “I would still love to get my degree in music education. It’s been my dream for the last year and a half.”

Which week did he find the most challenging and why? “I’d have to say was, when I sang “Temporary Home. That theme was past Idol songs. It was interesting –there was so many song choices and yet I didn’t feel that I could do any of them justice.  When I heard “Temporary Home” I had an emotional connection with the song meaning, but I don’t think I had any moments to shine in the song, so that week it was really not that great for me. It was the first week I was in the bottom 2.”

What critique will he remember the most from any of the judges or Jimmy, “It’s from all of them. ‘Stay true to yourself.’ I think I’ve been pretty consistent in doing that on the show. I’m the same before the show, I’m the same on the show, and I’m going to be the same after the show.  Idol hasn’t changed me, I have grown as a person, but I haven’t changed who I am. I think America fell in love with me for a reason, and I don’t want to change–not just to let them down, but also not to let myself down. I think you should be proud of who you are and the decisions that you’ve made as a person. I can say that I have no regrets on the show, and if I can go back and change anything, I wouldn’t.”

Who will he keep in touch with on the show? “Oh man. I have to say–Burnell, Laz, Angie, Kree, Janelle, Amber, and Candice. Oh wait…that’s all of them. There’s no way I can narrow it down. These people are my family. We’ve been together for 3 months. I’ve fallen in love with these people. I’ve had almost all of the top 5 guys–I’ve had them as roomates. The girls–we’ve gotten closer and closer throughout the weeks.  I think that’s the saddest part about leaving the competition –isn’t leaving the stage, but it’s leaving your brothers and sisters.

When Nicki told the guys to get off the stage after the group number, how did they deal with that? “It was a little difficult. Just because–right when you get off stage, as an artist, you are your worst critic. You’re always thinking about all the negative things that you had during the performance–and if you could change things–you’re trying to play it back and change it in your head. I really was OK. I did feel a little embarrassed, just because–this far into the competition, we shouldn’t be having little mistakes like forgetting the lyrics. I totally agree with Nicki Minaj when she says that it felt like Hollywood week. But mistakes do happen and the pressure does get to us. We’re still human. But it was a little disappointing just to see that–when you are so far into the competition that THAT was the mistake that we made. That’s a mistake that shouldn’t even be questioned right now. We should know our lines and know are parts.  What happened, happened.  I think that was a wakeup call for all of us, whether we went home or whether we stayed. ”

Did he think he was going to be saved? Or did he know the writing was on the wall? “I kinda knew the writing was on the wall, man. Nothing of course, was definite until the moment of…even the night prior I was getting this feeling, and I was like ‘alright. I think I’m going home.’  I wasn’t sad about it. I’m still not sad about it now. It’s weird. People are expecting me to be all mopey and crying. But my thing is–making top 10 was winning for me. It’s a great accomplishment. Some of the contestants on the show that are still left–they’ve auditioned 2 or 3 times and this is my first time auditioning, and I’ve made it this far. It’s a great accomplishment and I’m so blessed to have made it this far.”

Was he pointing fingers at Lazaro after the disastrous trio performance?  Did Nicki over react a little bit? “Looking back at the video, I know where Nicki was coming from. I agree with the first half of her critique, when she said that it felt like it was Hollywood week, that it was a joke, that stuff like that should not happen, that she was going to pretend that she didn’t hear it. I agree with that. When she went crazy–when she was like ‘get off the stage, blah blah blah’ and it’s just like ‘whoa Miss Minaj, I need you to calm down please.’  We’re still human, we still have feelings. She doesn’t care sometimes. It’s all good, we still love Nicki. Hearing that, it still is a little cutting while on stage. But the way my mother raised me was when someone was saying bad things about you when they’re not true? Guess what, they’re not talking about you. When Nicki Minaj was saying that we were forgetting our lyrics and we were off-pitch–without pointing fingers–I wasn’t off pitch, nor did I forget my lyrics, therefore I didn’t take that to offence. But it still sucks to be up there, seeing your team get knocked down that hard. But what happened happened. We’re growing and I think it was a great wakeup call. I don’t think that’s going to happen again on the show.”

What was going through his mind as he waited to hear if he was saved or not? It seemed like they might save him, “It wasn’t that tough. I think it was already set in stone. I kinda felt like today was just going to happen–I thought I was going home. Sooner or later we all have to go home. I think they are going to save the save for someone really really special. Not that I don’t think that I’m special, but with all the talent that’s left–if someone is in the bottom 2 that doesn’t belong there–just because they have one bad song day–I think they should use that save on that person.

Are there any song choices he would have changed in hindsight? “No. Even the week that I first was in the bottom 2–when I sang “Temporary Home”–though I didn’t have any moments to shine vocal wise, I’ve always had a personal connection with that song. I’m a firm believer in staying true to who you are. And I think I make decisions as an artist–and I think them through before I make them. So the fact that I’ve gotten to where I’ve gotten–It was my doing and no one else’s. I wouldn’t go back and change anything.

Was there anything that really surprised him about Idol that he didn’t think would happen? “Yeah. Looking back at the show, after watching every episode of every season–when you see top 10 and you see the photo shoots and you see the commercials, and you’re just ‘man, these people are just rolling in money and they’re sleeping in and getting room service.’  And the biggest wakeup call is that we get no sleep. Call times are super early and we have to go through hair and makeup and dress rehearsals and run-throughs and press. Our schedules are really really tight. One of the things I’m taking away from this is a lot more respect for people that work on television programs like this, just because they work so hard to make us look good. It looks so nice and sweet on the TVs. There’s a lot of effort that goes into it.”

Has he ever seen an Idol summer tour before? “I haven’t been to one of the tours. But I’m so excited to do it. It’s been a dream. It’s every performers dream to do that–to perform across the country and have fans shouting out your name, and sing with people you love. What I’m looking forward to the most is that I’m going to be singing with the same people that I was a couple of weeks ago, except we’re not competing in the competition. So the fact that we’re just going to be able to sing and not have anybody go home–we’re still going to be together–I think that’s going to be the greatest experience ever.”

Did the “girls will win” talk put the guys to a disadvantage voting wise? “I can’t speak so much on it, because I don’t know who votes for what. But I do know that though the judges aren’t voting, I know that their critiques do have a very big influence on America’s votes. As for the guys being in the bottom 3 last night, I think that our group performance is what put us there. I think it was well deserved. I think that we weren’t prepared, and we went up there, and  it was unprofessional. Because of that, we were in bottom 3. I wouldn’t change that for anything, just because I don’t want to be treated unfairly. And the fact that we weren’t prepared showed how serious it can be, where you can go home. The girls–they have power, man. They’ve been consistent with their performances and the vocals. None of them have gone home yet. That’s crazy! They’re fighting strong.”

Does he think Nicki’s tough critiquing this week was the result of Jimmy complaining that the judges were too soft? “Nicki Minaj is one of those characters where she has multiple personalities–she’s her own person. And it’s weird, because you never know what you’re going to get with Nicki Minaj. She could have been upset because the night before she was wearing the same colored dress as Mariah, or that she was on time. We never know. But I know that I love her as a judge…It’s when she gets into the exaggerative speaking, where it’s just like, ‘Ah, take it easy! You don’t wanna hurt somebody else’s feelings.’  But yeah, she is who she is.”

Was he very close to Mariah Carey? “Our time with the judges–it’s not much. It’s a little bit during rehearsals, and maybe backstage before we go on. But it’s not like we get to sit down and talk. After I got voted off last night, I actually had a conversation with her, and hearing things like–that she was so proud to see the artist that I was becoming, and that if nothing works out later on down the road, that she would love to contact me.  Hearing things like that from Mariah Carey–it’s crazy because she is so huge. It’s crazy how big this woman is in the industry. Hearing that was a little reassuring and I’m a little more at peace just because if nothing happens, I know that I always have that to fall back on.”

Did he have similar conversations with the other judges? “Nicki might have had to step away earlier, because I didn’t get to say bye to her, she had prior engagements. Keith gave me a big ole bear hug, and he was just being Keith, and I love him and he said that he was sad that I had to go and he said to keep going and that no matter what, I was an Idol in their eyes. Randy said the same thing that Mariah did–if nothing happens, that they would love to contact me sometime down the road, just because I had true talent. Hearing that from such great people makes me feel good as an artist, but also as a person. I enjoyed every moment of it last night.”

Closing remarks: “I want to say thank you guys for having me. The fact that I’m leaving the show doesn’t mean that this is the end of Devin. I have spoken about this before–I’m not changing who I am for America. I’m not changing who I am for family or friends. I’m not changing who I am unless I want to change, and right now, I don’t. I think that America fell in love with me for a reason, I’m going to continue to give them 100%. So whatever life brings, just as long as I have my Devineers out there, and my God, I think everything is going to be alright. Keep voting for me in life. To support me in life. That’s all that I ask.”

More Interviews:

In this interview, Devin calls Nicki Minaj out for the way she treated the boys after their disastrous trio Wednesday night.



FOX Nashville

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Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!