Anoop Desai, fellow American Idols enjoying ‘redemption’

While the American Idol’s finale aired on May 20, the annual American Idols Live tour has been going
The “American Idol†top 10 for Season 8 are on tour, including a stop in Albany.
The “American Idol†top 10 for Season 8 are on tour, including a stop in Albany.

In a way, the top 10 finalists of “American Idol’s” eighth season are still proving themselves.

While the season’s finale aired on May 20, the annual American Idols Live tour has been going strong since July 5, and heads to the Times Union Center on Wednesday. But instead of playing for “Idol’s” four judges, the finalists are playing for audiences of adoring fans around the country, and naturally the judgements are much less harsh.

“We’re calling this the ‘Redemption Tour’ amongst ourselves,” said top seven finisher Anoop Desai, 22, from a stop in Baltimore. “Sometimes people tear you down, and it’s a tough thing to do to defend yourself every night [on the show]. But now we’re showing that we do deserve to be here, we do deserve to go on with our careers.”

Tremendous experience

So far, the tour has been a “great experience” for Desai and the other nine finalists — including winner Kris Allen, runner-up Adam Lambert, Danny Gokey, Allison Iraheta, Matt Giraud, Lil Rounds, Scott MacIntyre, Megan Joy and Michael Sarver. Although the tour’s hectic schedule doesn’t allow for much sight-seeing, Desai has enjoyed traveling the country.


To read Gazette music writer Brian McElhiney’s review of this show, click here.

“Just the experience of being on the road, there’s something kind of Kerouac about the whole thing, and that’s been kind of cool,” Desai said. “I think one of the good things about the tour is that each stop we go to, we’re all picking up fans.”

That’s not to say that Desai doesn’t have his share of fans already. His legions have dubbed him “Anoop Dog” on fan Web sites, and his likability got him into the finals, increasing the number of finalists this year to 13 from the show’s usual 12. It was a major comeback after Desai had initially been eliminated, then brought back as a wild card, and was this year’s biggest twist in a season of changes for “Idol.” He was voted off the show in a double elimination with Rounds on April 22.

But despite the unusual circumstances that have led to his being on the present tour, Desai didn’t have much to say about the situation.

“I mean, that’s the show; it’s been a while,” Desai said. “Obviously there was shock, but that was part of the show and it’s long since past.”

However, Desai still has much gratitude for the show that is still helping to launch his and his fellow finalists’ careers.

American Idols Live

When: 7 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Times Union Center, 51 S. Pearl St., Albany

How Much: $69.50,. $55.50, $40.50

More Info: 487-2000,

“I think there’s interest in all of us just based on the show we were on,” Desai said. “But we’re still going to have to work for that, and that’s going to be a process. I would love to expedite it, but I recognize that it might be a little while.”

Trying out for the show

Desai, an only child born in Cary, N.C., grew up in Chapel Hill. From an early age, he knew he could sing and perform, but didn’t focus on it initially, instead going to college at the University of North Carolina.

“It’s always something I’ve loved doing, and always something I considered myself relatively good at,” Desai said.

After much prompting from friends to try out, he was eventually inspired to audition for “American Idol” in 2008, when his friend, Eve Carson, was murdered in Chapel Hill.

When he auditioned in Kansas City, Mo., he was working on a master’s in folklore, something he doesn’t plan on continuing — “No, no, that’s done,” he said with a laugh.

Along with season six’s Sanjaya Malakar, Desai is only the second contestant of Indian descent to reach the finals of the show. He became known for his smooth R&B style on the show, singing songs by such artists as Bobby Brown (“My Prerogative”), Usher (“Caught Up”) and one of his personal favorites, Boyz II Men (“Thank You”) in the finals.

His set on tour has been expanding on tracks such as those.

“It shows, I think, the range of what I can do and what I hope to do later on in my career, pop, R&B,” Desai said. “[Audiences] can see my brand of it. I think it’s different from everyone else’s set. I have fun doing it and I have fun singing it.”

Each night on the tour is different for Desai. The set depends on the audience’s enthusiasm and energy.

“I think each night is a direct reflection on what we’re feeling from the audience, how we’re vibing people out there,” Desai said. “Each song changes night to night, and some nights are better than others, unfortunately. There’s almost a symbiotic thing we have going with the crowd.”

Desai eventually hopes to hook up with some songwriters once he is represented by a label, but for now is sticking with covers on the road.

“I would love to be writing with people right now, but unfortunately I’m not represented, so I do not have that opportunity,” Desai said. “As soon as I get off this thing, that’s what I’m going to be working toward.”

Categories: Life and Arts

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