“I think I’m pretty decent at fooling people to make them think I’m not nervous,” Poppe told TVLine and other reporters on Wednesday. “That’s just the way I deal with my nerves. I try to act relaxed.”
And that nerve-suppressing ability came in handy quite a few times during Monday’s Idol finale, beginning with her duet of “Rainbow Connection” with none other than Kermit the Frog.
“I know Kermit’s a huge deal, but this puppet is, like, legendary,” Poppe recalled. “I mean, they came in with this box, and they put a black tarp over him before he’s in action so that no one can see him. You’re not allowed to touch him. Only one person can adjust him. It’s very funny how into it they are. … But meeting the people behind the scenes was awesome. If you met those people on the street, you’d have no idea he was the voice of Kermit.”
Poppe also had to remain cool during her performance with Caleb Lee Hutchinson, which became all the more uncomfortable when host Ryan Seacrest revealed that the two are dating.
“[The producers] mentioned that Ryan might bring that up, because I guess he had found out about it earlier in the day,” Poppe said. “I was fine with it, but before we sang that song together, Caleb said, ‘Hey, hold your microphone in your left hand.’ … I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, he’s going to try to hold my hand during this, isn’t he?’”
Sure enough, hands were held.
“I’m such an awkward person, so I didn’t know how to react,” she said. “I just started smiling and I just let him kind of let [Caleb] take the reins. My dad was saying, ‘It didn’t like you were very affectionate towards Caleb on stage,’ but I was just so nervous. I didn’t know what to say!”
Poppe was also never confident in her victory; she entered the final stretch of the competition certain that either Hutchinson or Gabby Barrett would win.
“Gabby and Caleb have way more followers than me on all social media platforms,” she noted. “There were two country people in this finale [and] I know that country music fans are very loyal, so I didn’t ever think that I had this won. The whole night was just one surprise after another.”
Fortunately, there won’t be any surprises — at least any negative ones — on Poppe’s debut album, which she said she hopes will reflect the singer/songwriter vibe she put forward during the competition.
“I want to stick with doing the vein I stuck with on the show,” she said. “I didn’t realize how far that would take me in the competition, but now I realize that’s enough. I really want to keep being true to what I want to do. I don’t want to get caught up in the other things that sometimes come from being in the music industry.”
Your thoughts on Poppe’s win, now that you’ve had a few days to let the results marinate? Drop ’em in a comment below.