American Idol Winner Trent Harmon on Surviving Mono, Pulling Faces, Going Country and Scaling 'Chandelier'

Trent Harmon has one regret about being the final winner of American Idol: He won’t get the opportunity to return to the show next season as a cool, conquering hero looked up to by a new crop of contestants.

On the flip side, though, the Mississippi farm boy says he’s able to look back with contentedness at one of his less successful performances — a cover of Sam Smith’s “Like I Can” that failed to impress his family members. “I knew as soon as I sang the last note, I didn’t do as well as I could have,” he tells TVLine over the course of a wide-ranging, three-part video interview about his time on the Fox reality competition. That disappointment, however, “fired me up,” Trent adds, setting the stage for his late-season surge.

Trent also takes a deep dive into the reasoning behind some of his lesser-known song choices (“Unaware” and “What Are You Listening To”), the valuable lesson he learned during rehearsal for a duet with Season 6 champ Jordin Sparks, the approach he took to working with Idol‘s wardrobe department and the work he did in the wake of his unsuccessful audition for The Voice last year.

Also on the docket: Trent’s Hollywood Week bout with mono; mentor (and new boss) Scott Borchetta’s comments about his penchant for making faces while singing; his emotional reinvention of Sia’s “Chandelier”; and the country direction of his upcoming debut album.

Press PLAY above for Part 1 — and below for Parts 2 and 3 — then hit the comments with your thoughts on Trent’s win and his post-Idol future.