Bucky Covington knows how 'American Idol' finalists feel going into an elimination round. But the season five finalist, who finished in eighth place in 2006, tells Taste of Country that the real competition begins when you go home for good.

"I think people have a perception of you," the always chatty Covington says about fan expectations after 'Idol.' "You have to almost be as good as Tim McGraw even though you have none of the experience." The live show is one area many contestants struggle with, and he says that's because playing for cameras and playing for a crowd take two very different skill sets.

"Pretty much you let the camera do the work. You kind of stand there and let the camera do all the dancing around you and let the editing part of it make you look good," he explains, laughing.

Covington is currently embarking on a 'Hometown Tour' of American small towns. Growing up in Rockingham, N.C., the singer says he knows what it's like to have to drive two hours to see your favorites. And musically, he says he's been exploring the soul side of country music, which is part of his personality that many of his television fans never saw before he was eliminated.

The 'A Different World' singer offers this advice for this season's country favorite Scotty McCreery: Learn each person's job within the music business, and take your time making big decisions. "One thing you have to really realize is you're always in the spotlight," he says.

Covington hasn't had time to follow this season, but noticed that the men were dominating early on. "That's going to make for a boring tour," he quipped with a laugh.