Soulful and savvy, Anoop Desai emerged from a University of North Carolina acapella group to become one of the standout competitors on American Idol‘s Season 8. With smoky vocals that fit neatly with his longstanding love for 90s R&B, Anoop charmed Idol fans and overcame numerous obstacles along the way to finishing in last season’s Top 7. He’s now on the verge of releasing his debut EP, All Is Fair, which you should sample for free at his official site. It drops May 4 — that’s Tuesday!
One of Anoop’s best moments on Idol came during last year’s Grand Ole Opry/country week (when even beloved Idol runner-up Adam Lambert stumbled a bit). Anoop rocked Willie Nelson’s “Always On My Mind” — so who better to review this year’s version of country week, which featured the music of Shania Twain? Anoop has a clear-eyed view when it comes to the contestants’ emotions and Crystal’s prospects for winning it all. Check it below:
Last year, country week was my favorite week. I felt no pressure to outperform anyone or live up to another version of the songs we had to choose from because, quite frankly, I didn’t really know any of the songs. I think I would have found myself in the same position for this year’s iteration of country week featuring the music of Shania Twain. I have a feeling that’s what some of this year’s contestants felt as well. Some of the most original and natural songs this week came from contestants who were simply riding along as part of the pack. It took a week like this, featuring songs that aren’t necessarily iconic, for them to let their true selves shine.
I’m particularly speaking of Casey, Aaron, Siobhan, and Mike who were all impressive in their re-arrangements of Shania’s songs. I’m proud of them all for realizing that they needed to own their performances, not simply sing the song that they picked. From someone who’s been there, it’s very tempting to simply pick a song you can sing, not necessarily one you must sing. It takes a while to realize that the song you must sing is the one that speaks to you the most as an artist. In my case, I know that my best performances were with songs that I really studied the lyrics to—songs that I told a story with. For example, when Aaron Kelly changed a line in his song this week, I knew that he felt the song the way he should.
This week’s elimination is going to be tough. No one was content to go quietly this week, and I loved seeing that fight. Everyone must realize that these contestants are up against the world. They’re tired, some have been the subjects of some bad criticism from the judges, they’re hearing ten different sets of advice on what they should do. But there’s still fire in each one of them. I saw that tonight.
They’re realizing, hopefully, that Crystal hasn’t won the competition yet. And as much as I love Crystal, I hope this is the beginning of a real race to the finish. I’m sure they’re all great friends by now, but it’s time to let that all go. They’ll have plenty of time to be friends on the tour bus this summer. Right now, it’s about kicking ass. I can’t wait to see how each of them carves out his or her path to the title in the coming weeks.
Visit Anoop’s site now to hear his seductive new single, “My Name”.