LOS ANGELES Eliminated "American Idol" contestant Stefano Langone said on Friday he never wanted to win the talent show, but saw it as a way to launch his own musical career.
And, in an unusual decision, the 22 year-old said he had deliberately kept secret his true self and his piano skills from the 25 million strong audience on the most-watched TV show in the United States.
"When I came out for 'American Idol' I never really wanted to be the American Idol. It was getting that foot in the door in the music industry," Langone told journalists on Friday.
"It is hard to really show your chops on the show...One thing I really wanted to save and keep close to myself was my original music and my piano playing. That is something I want to show to the world (in the future) and I think will be very special," he added.
Langone finished in what he called "lucky 7th" place on the show on Thursday after finding himself in the bottom three on three occasions. He had been a judge's wild card choice for the top 12.
During the competition, Langone had been urged several times by judges to make more effort to connect emotionally with his material.
The ebullient, fresh-faced singer said on Friday he wanted to forge a career that combined the singing style of Stevie Wonder and Bruno Mars, along with collaborations with rap artists.
"I am going in a different direction than any other American Idol really has," Langone said. "There is a wide open crowd and market out there now and I am ready to pounce on it."
"When I am off this show, I am really going to show the world what kind of impact I can make," he added, saying he was "completely at peace" with his early exit.
Langone's departure leaves six singers -- double bass-player Casey Abrams, rocker James Durbin, Lauren Alaina, Jacob Lusk, Haley Reinhart and country singer Scotty McCreery -- in the running for the "American Idol" title and a guaranteed recording contract.
The "American Idol" finale airs on the Fox network on May 24 and 25. Past winners include such Grammy-winning artists as Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson.
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Zorianna Kit)