In the first double elimination to date, America sent Anoop Desai and Lil Rounds home, brining the American Idol count to five (only five, count them FIVE more weeks left, AI fans…soak it in!). Not only did America eliminate the last two contestants with interesting names, they also eliminated two amazing singers. This is when it starts getting sticky, people.
Anoop and Lil gave their two cents in a conference call Thursday, discussing what they learned, their feelings heading home, and their future in the music biz.
Lil, who was an early favorite with Simon, failed to impress the judges when she reached the top ten by choosing songs that didn't "represent her as an artist" or that she didn't "make into her own" (two of the judges' most dreaded and elusive critiques). Still, Lil thinks otherwise.
"When I would hear [those criticisms] I automatically thought, I did make it my own!" she said. "I guess they wanted me to change it more music wise, but I felt vocally I did do some changes. I always wanted to make sure I got R&B; in there, because that's how I see myself as an artist. I'm sorry the judges didn't see that."
Despite the repeated bashings Lil got from some of the judges (his name beings with an 'S' and ends with an 'imon') she always came back the following week singing with confidence and approached the judges' panel with a look of certainty that she had, at last, chosen the right song. That is, until the judges spoke and their first comments were about how 'amazing' she looked (because everyone knows when they compliment your appearance first, it's all downhill from there).
"Even in the midst of adversity you just have to move forward and keep your head up," she said. "I always came back and sang my heart out no matter what the comments were. It's been a blessing. I think America got the message that I wanted them to get--that I was an artist."
Similarly, Anoop, perhaps the more shocking elimination of the two, has all eyes on a future music career and has no plans to return to graduate school (do you hear that? It's the sound of his parents weeping).
"I definitely want to pursue a music career," he said. "Singing is what I do the best; it's what I enjoy the most. One of the best comments I got on the show was when Kara said she could hear one of my songs on the radio…that's what I was going for the whole time. There are millions of votes coming in for you because people feel connected to you emotionally. I want to channel that."
Running hot and cold with the judges since he reached the top ten, Anoop said he learned a lot from the AI experience and from the weekly mentors.
"I've learned how to learn from my mistakes and how to bounce back from them. All the mentors were special, Quentin had good points and Randy Travis had good advice about the shape of the song. I can only measure in experience. And they were the best of my life," he said.
So is this how he managed to sing after the elimination without so much as missing a beat?
"When I was eliminated, I was no longer being judged. So when that burden was relived I was free to sing the song with the persona I was trying to exude the whole time. That was the persona I've been looking to put out," he said.
However, Anoop said his heart is always in Chapel Hill and he's looking forward to heading home before the summer tour.
"I want to sit on the couch, get up at noon, and get a Sunrise bisect," he said.
Enjoy it while you can, Anoop, before you start playing seedy bars for fifty bucks a pop/opening for Vanilla Ice or the New Kids on the Block Reunion tour (just kidding!).