Allison Iraheta said Thursday she enjoyed the role of little sister to the guys on "American Idol" and refused to pick a favorite among them.
Iraheta, 17, of Los Angeles, who was eliminated from the Fox TV singing contest Wednesday, said her fans must decide about shifting support to remaining finalists Kris Allen, Danny Gokey or Adam Lambert.
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On the air, Iraheta seemed to have bonded with Lambert, 27, of San Diego, sharing the same bold taste in fashion and, this week, even the same hair stylist. Their duet on Foghat's "Slow Ride" drew praise from the judges.
But Iraheta gave all the men credit for acting as her supportive — if teasing — big brothers.
"It was so fun. They'd pick on me. They'd have an argument (and say), 'Stay out of this, you're only 12 years old,"' she said. "It's the love. It's so cool. … It's like a family."
"They would really stand up for me," she added, and help with song choices.
Iraheta said she appreciated that the judges, in their weekly reviews, deemed her "different."
"I really like that because I stayed true to myself," she said. She wouldn't have changed her final performance, of Janis Joplin's "Cry Baby," even though the judges declared it the wrong choice.
She also relished having finally answered judge Simon Cowell's assessment of her as boring and not talkative enough.
"I'm not really the kind of person who talks back," she said. But when Cowell advised her to beg for the audience's vote, "I felt it was the perfect time to stand up for myself," she said.
She said the contestants were thrown off balance Tuesday by a pre-show accident that left the stage manager injured. But they got word the woman was doing better and "we just had to go on with the show."
The teenager, who said she's been home-schooled and is close to completing her high school education, will go on the road this summer as part of the national "American Idol" concert tour.
Iraheta, who sang in Spanish as a child, said she'd like to have the chance to do that again.
Although she won't be named the newest "American Idol," she said she's taking heart from the successful career of a past fourth-place finisher on the show, Chris Daughtry, who performed on the show this week with his band.
"If he's done well, and he didn't have to make it all the way to the top, it gives me a chance," Iraheta said.
The finale is May 20, when either Gokey, 29, from Milwaukee; Allen, 23, of Conway, Ark., or Lambert will take the crown and a record contract.