It had to be the most exuberant exit in the history of American Idol. Casey Abrams, 20, the eccentric and soulful jazz musician from Idyllwild, California, leapt off the stage, back onto the stage, threw himself into the arms of fellow contestants and tried to kiss every girl — plus judge Steven Tyler — on his way out of the building. He had one of the most dramatic personal journeys of all the competitors, including being hospitalized earlier in the competition for ulcerative colitis and getting the only judges' save. He also made it to his ultimate goal, which was not to win but to make the Top Six.
TV Guide Magazine: You were leaping off the stage, back onto the stage, and kissing everyone in sight after you were eliminated. What was going through your mind?
Abrams: I have no idea. I think I kind of blacked out and did whatever felt right. Or did whatever I felt was wrong and tried to break barriers.
TV Guide Magazine: You said you thought it was your time to go and "the best time" to go. Why?
Abrams: You know, I survived that save for a while and had done pretty cool songs for a few episodes. Maybe I just ran out of good ideas. I just felt like, why not me? Everyone was incredible. I was seeing everyone kill it on stage. All five of them, I was getting chills, left and right. It's stuff like that that makes you happy — and kind of bummed that you're not there.
TV Guide Magazine: You didn't think you were going to win, just make it to the Top Six?
Abrams: Yeah. I kind of joked about that, sarcastically. Like some of my big supporters, like my mom, said, "You're gonna win this thing." And I was like, "Top Six or something."
TV Guide Magazine: What was the difference between getting cut last night and getting cut at Top 11?
Abrams: I was kind of bummed at Top 11 because I wouldn't be going on tour, and it was one of my worst nightmares to get cut right before Top 10. That was going through my mind. I probably should've been a little more happy because I'd made it that far. I learned the happiness thing by Top Six. First of all, I felt it coming. I was prepared for it. And I'm really not even that pissed that it happened.
TV Guide Magazine: You actually scared people with your reaction when the judges saved you. Did you scare yourself?
Abrams: Everyone was scared. Everyone thought I was dead afterwards. I felt like I was going to faint, honestly, and I think I did a little bit. I just felt like "This is too good to be true." Like, "What are you talking about? Stop it!"
TV Guide Magazine: What's the most meaningful thing any of the judges said to you last night?
Abrams: Jennifer [Lopez] said some really nice things and I kissed her. She never really gave me a full-fledged hug before that, and that was really meaningful. She came up and hugged me and stayed on stage. She said, "I'm going to miss you so much. It's going to be weird not seeing Casey performances. Just growl at me one more time."
TV Guide Magazine: Jennifer looked like she wanted to save you again. She was crying when she left the stage.
Abrams: No she wasn't! Really? After she talked to me? I feel so bad.
TV Guide Magazine: Take me back to when you had to go to the hospital. How close did you come to bowing out of the competition?
Abrams: Really close. Extremely close. It was really sketchy for a second. My blood count was really, really, really low, lower than you can imagine. It's incredible that the people at Cedars-Sinai really did help. And the people at Idol, the fact that they let me miss episodes and keep going, it's incredible.
TV Guide Magazine: You must have thought, while you were lying in a bed at the hospital, this cannot be happening to me right now?
Abrams: Exactly! It was a low blow. I've been wanting this for about two years now. So the fact that I couldn't be there, and I might not be there the next week, was scary.
TV Guide Magazine: How did you make the decision to continue?
Abrams: That was easy. That's my default mode. That's hard-wired into my brain: Just keep going.
TV Guide Magazine: Your parents must have been worried sick. Did they advise you what to do, or leave it up to you?
Abrams: They left it entirely up to me. My parents were very supportive, they came down and stayed with me at the hospital. It was really nice. But there was no doubt in my mind that I was going to continue with the competition, unless I was dead.
TV Guide Magazine: How did you keep yourself healthy for the rest of the competition? You looked very well. How did you do that?
TV Guide Magazine: But did you feel well?
Abrams: I did feel well. Two weeks after being in the hospital, I was feeling incredible.
TV Guide Magazine: Were you trying to tell us something last night by singing to Haley Reinhart the last phrase of the song, "...because you're mine?"
Abrams: It was completely unplanned. But I ended up on stage and it was the perfect moment to just turn to her and give her a shout out. It was the perfect way to end because she's my best friend on the show. How could I not turn to her and say, "What's up?"