'American Idol': Elise Testone on talking back to Jennifer Lopez - 'I respect what she says to me'

elise-testone-now-and-then.jpgIt's always tense in the "American Idol" studio when contestants talk back to the judges. But Elise Testone, who was the latest finalist to follow in Justin Guarini's footsteps, tells Zap2it that she hopes Jennifer Lopez doesn't think she was being disrespectful when she responded to one of her comments about her rendition of Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" during the second Top 7 performance show of Season 11.

After Lopez told Testone that she thought she needed to connect more emotionally with her songs, the singer piped up and said that she thinks she does do that on a regular basis.

Backstage later, Testone tells Zap2it why she decided to talk back. "I didn't want to just stand there and smile and not connect with their conversation with me," she says. "So I wanted to engage. I'm not being rude and I don't even discredit anything that they said -- I just felt like I needed to kind of explain that I am always approaching my song from an emotional standpoint, but maybe they brought it to my attention that this competition is making me forget or taking a little bit of that away because I'm focusing so much on the technical aspects of things."

Regardless of how people took the interaction, Testone says she's happy with the way she handled herself. "I felt good about the way that went down, and I'm glad I kind stepped aside with Ryan and said something again because I didn't want Jennifer to think I was like 'Oh, I do that' and just move on. I wanted to explain what I meant. I respect what she says to me and I know that she respects me, so I wanted it to be a nice conversation."

So, how does Testone feel about all the praise being heaped upon her much-younger competitors when, as mentor Jimmy Iovine explains, "I think she's being judged week to week. ... She can't afford to slip at all."

"I guess it always does hurt me a little bit when I hear all these comments going at all the younger contestants that I feel I'm more deserving of in a way, just because I have worked so hard and gone through so many things to get here," she says. "But at the same time I really respect and admire how well they're doing. It's just a bittersweet thing. I don't know what to say about it, really, but I try not to dwell on it because there's no point in that. I've got to make myself known, I've got to earn it myself. I can't sit around and be upset about someone else."

It's a good attitude to take. Besides, she would never feel unhappy that someone else is doing well -- that is very un-Idol-like behavior.

"I just try to look at them like I'm proud of their success, like they're my friends and that doesn't matter, because if I start to think about that then I shouldn't even be here. Because if I'm trying to be an Idol and an inspiration, I wouldn't be petty and jealous."
Photo/Video credit: FOX