Just like the holidays, The Voice finals are creeping up on us. After Tuesday’s eliminations episode, only six singers are left to duke it out next week. We caught up with one of the two eliminated artists from the top eight, Caroline Pennell, the 17-year-old high school senior whose honeysuckle-sweet voice charmed America and her colorful coach Cee Lo Green. She began the competition as a shy singer, seemingly unaware of her talent. But after making it to the top eight, which isn’t any easy task, Pennell didn’t leave empty-handed, “I think a visible change would probably be just my comfort level, my confidence.” And who could complain about being eliminated when they’ve experienced something most teenagers could only dream of — “I’ve had some of the best times I have in my whole life, which has not been very long, but I mean there’s so much to take away from it.” She spoke to us about her thoughts on the Twitter save, her coach’s last words, and her next big challenge — those pesky college applications.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY:How are you feeling after Tuesday’s eliminations?
Caroline Pennell: I’m feeling all right. It’s definitely bittersweet but… I’ll be back in a couple of weeks for the finale.
You were the last remaining member of Team Cee Lo — how did it feel to be representing him in the top eight?
It felt good. At this point it was kind of an individual game and we were all on one team, but I wish that he could have made it to the end, but I think that we both agreed on being okay with this and moving forward in a positive way.
What were Cee Lo’s last words to you?
Just to keep going and it does not end here. And really, that it’s okay more than anything, just to remind yourself that it’s okay.
What’s a piece of Cee Lo advice that you’ll keep with you?
I’ll probably take away just to have fun always. I mean this experience has been so amazing for me and I think that he was a perfect example of somebody who really utilized all of their time and spent it well. He had so much fun and made everyone laugh, you know, really left a lasting impression on me, and I think that’s what I hope to carry out for the rest of my career.
What do you think about the Twitter save?
For the show, it’s very strategic and it’s a way to really incorporate social media into the results of the show, and it creates a huge fan base for the show and for the contestants. And I totally get why they installed it. I have two perspectives, from being saved and then — from sometimes it’s just easier to know that you were sent home and not possibly lose twice because that mentality of “bottom three” instead of “top five” kind of overrides… it’s hard, it’s totally hard, but I think that it’s really innovative.
What are some of your favorite moments with the other singers?
Probably just the ones you don’t get to see on TV. Just being in the hotel, having fun, laughing, and then before performances [we’d all be] in the Artists’ tent, so we all got to watch each other go and that’s kind of not documented … we’re one big family and that’s what I’m most sad about leaving.
Both you and Jacquie Lee, 16, were the youngest singers on The Voice, what was that experience like for you?
It was scary at first .. [but] everyone was so respectful of our space and age and there were minor differences like how long we could work — I mean we had school and they didn’t — but we all spent equally as much time together. And I’m best friends with you know 25, 26, and 30 year-olds, so I think that’s something so cool that both of us would have never been able to find anywhere else.
This week on the show, it was mentioned that you got your first college acceptance letter. What schools are your top choices?
I don’t know anything right now, but my first choice is Tulane in New Orleans and that’s where I see myself.
Any thoughts on what’s next music-wise?
I think for now I’m just gonna wait it out and see what opportunities come to me. And I’m gonna explore my options, and hopefully have options. So that’s just something that I’m looking forward to.
You said you’re currently sitting at the airport. What are your Thanksgiving plans?
We’re just gonna order sushi and eat and watch movies. I haven’t had that in so long and I’m thankful for so many things.
Watch Caroline’s final top eight performance of Florence and the Machine’s “Dog Days Are Over” below:
The Voice airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET and Tuesdays 9 p.m. ET.