On this unique episode of the Moran-Alytics Podcast, Patrick Moran has an extended interview with former American Idol star Elliott Yamin ranging over a wide variety topics spanning his life and career.

The former top three finalist from of one of America’s most iconic shows of this century speaks of humble and diverse beginnings as a young child in Los Angeles before his family relocated to Richmond, Virginia at the age of 11. He describes the culture shock of switching coasts and some of the physical ailments that has plagued him since his early teen years— ear surgeries leaving him with 90% hearing loss in his right ear as well as being diagnosed with Diabetes.

Yamin credits his friends for forcing him to audition for season five of American Idol in Boston and explains the entire process, which actually consisted of three full rounds over two months before even getting to sing for Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Paula Abdul.  After impressing the judges in a non-televised audition, Yamin went to Hollywood, where he struggled in large part because his mother was ill back home in Virginia.  After making it to the Top 24 he hit his stride during the three semi-final rounds, more-less dominating as he seemingly came out of nowhere to win America over with splendid renditions of “If You Really Love Me” and “Moody’s Mood for Love,” the former promoting Simon to say he was potentially the best male vocalist he’s ever heard on the show at the time.

Moran takes Yamin on a stroll through several of the weeks after becoming a Top 12 finalist and we learn about his experiences working with Barry Manilow, being confused after nearly going home during Queen week, his thoughts on the “A Song for You” performance that had Paula in tears and Simon calling it a vocal master class before shocking show fans by stealing the show during Top 4 Elvis week a few rounds later.

You can feel the emotion in Yamin’s voice when he talks about going home to Richmond for Top 3 week and being treated like a hero—what it meant to feel the love from an entire city that embraced him during his memorable run.

He also speaks of clashing a little bit with music mogul Clive Davis, the one thing that left him sore about being eliminated, performing during the finale with the legendary Mary J. Blige, his post-Idol career and so much more.

It’s a great interview, the longest ever on the Moran-Alytics Podcast and it really sheds light on why Elliot Yamin was and remains one of the most beloved contestants on American Idol history.

Follow Patrick Moran on Twitter @patmorantweets