When an idol wannabe steps on that stage for the first time to do a live performance … well, it must be a surreal feeling.

At least it was for John Park.

He admitted he found the cameras distracting. He found the judges’ comments distracting and focusing on his performance … well that was was next to impossible.

Now he is honing in on a career in music be it performing or behind the scenes as he heads back to finish a degree at Northwestern.

Here are some of comments from last Friday’s conference call after he was eliminated on Thursday night:

On not living up to expectations:

“I didn’t really think that my first audition was the best. I thought when I sang “God Bless The Child” during my first audition during Hollywood Week, I thought that was my best before Top 24. They didn’t show that on TV. I felt that I was one of the people who barely got through.”

On Simon telling him he would be eliminated:

“He is basically saying that I might go home this week, and he of course dramatizes it so that people at home get a kick out of it. I don’t really mind it ’cause I understand where he’s coming from, that’s just how he is on TV. After the elimination happened and I sang my last song, he came up to me and he shook my hand and said ‘Congratulations for coming this far.’ He’s not that mean of a guy.”

What happened in the Top 24?

“I think it was mostly, song choice and nerves. I definitely got distracted by the cameras, and that the judges were going to criticize me in front of 30 million people. I think that kind of took away from my concentration on just singing the song honestly. I couldn’t do my best to interpret the song my own way.”

What would he have performed next week:

“I actually hadn’t figured it out yet, but I was thinking either a Stevie Wonder song, or Marc Broussard or Britney Spears. I had a long list of songs to choose from and try different things with.”

Most memorable experiences from the show:

“Meeting the other contestants and really becoming good friends and also working with Rickey Minor and the band — just working with the top of the top crew and band and coaches. It was just incredible.”

Who he was close to in the 24:

“I want to keep in touch with a lot of people, but Tyler Grady who was eliminated last week is someone I continue to keep in touch with, also Casey James who is currently in the show, and Lee Dewyze, who is also from Chicago, we’ll be keeping in touch also.”

What the judges said to him after the show:

“All the judges said nice things to me like, I had a great voice – validating that I had a great voice was really nice. After I was eliminated they told me I sounded great, and I should be doing this for the rest of my life, and that I do have talent.”

How did he feel about going home:

“I’m usually pretty laid back, and usually have a positive outlook on many things, even during Hollywood Week. After the group audition, I thought I was going home because it was a train-wreck, I told myself, if I go home today, I’m going to come out such a stronger person, just more confident in general, there were several moments when I had that thought – this week of course.”

Who are his favorite Idols:

“My favorite Idol winner was Kelly Clarkson, and I vividly remember here finale show when she sang “A Moment Like This”. It was an incredible moment for me when I was a kid.”

What are his plans now:

“I’m going to head back to Chicago and see what kind of open doors there will be for me. And just wait it out, and probably go back to school this upcoming quarter which is happening in about two weeks. I’ll probably take some time off to decompress and think about if performing is really what I want to pursue. Of course, that will change as I get different offers from different people. Everything’s really up in the air, but basically I want to finish school and pursue music, performance or not.”

http://www.americanidol.com/videos/season_9/performances/john_park_gravity/?ref=ai9_contestants_profile_judge_comments