Anoop Desai has been something of an American Idol survivor this season. He needed the 13th finalist twist to get into the finals, then made it through several close scrapes with the bottom. This week, though, it was his turn to say goodbye. Earlier today, Desai hopped on the phone with reporters to reflect on his Idol experience, his next steps, and the North Carolina food he's craving most. Here are highlights:
- On having a feeling he might be going home: "I think we always think about that sort of stuff on the inside. It's amazing how many people out of that group were sure that they were going home last night. It was really a toss-up, I think."
- On the biggest thing he learned from Idol: "I think I really learned how to bounce back from things. A lot of times I'm really hard on myself, because if I don't live up to my own standards, then to me, the way I used to look at it was as a failure. What I've really learned is how to bounce back from my mistakes and how to learn from them."
- On his future plans: "I'm definitely going to pursue a music career. if I learned nothing else from this experience, it's that singing is what I am the happiest doing. I think it's what I do the best. And I'm looking forward to releasing that pop/R&B album. I really like the things, for instance, that Ne-Yo is doing right now . . . I'm really interested in pursuing that direction. One of the best comments I got was Kara's which is when she said she could hear [the uptempo "Dim All the Lights"] on the radio, because that's what I was striving for."
- On singing on the Idol stage one final time: "That was the easiest performance I've ever done, and hopefully that's going to be how it is on tour. There's something about the burden of having four people sitting in front of you that you know are your harshest critics. With that burden, relieved I was free to sing the song with personality — which sounds strange to say, but that's the freest I've ever been on stage."
To hear how Anoop liked the Idol mansion and what songs are on his wish list, just read more.
- On living with his competitors: "Quite frankly, when I started this process, I was expecting not to get along with everyone. I mean, I get along with people, but I would imagine when you're competing and living in close quarters it could get to be a bit much. . . . But we help each other out. We realize it's a competition, but it's not the end-all, be-all. For us this was a growing process, it was a learning process, and it was amazing how we all got along and each person brought different things, both musically and personality-wise, to the table. . . . It was not the tense environment that I think most people imagine it to be."
- On learning from the other contestants: "To me, it was very humbling to see how good everyone was. And you know, it's not a skill or a vocal ability that we learn from the contestants. It's more about how to play to your strengths. I think as you see people realizing that throughout the competition, you sort of find your own niche."
- On his "wish list" of songs to sing: "There are a bunch of wish list songs — a bunch of which are all Stevie Wonder songs, because as I've said before, he's my idol. I wanted to do 'All in Love Is Fair' for Motown Week because I really think it's one of the most beautiful songs ever written . . . The thing I had to keep in mind is that you have to reach an audience. The songs you want to sing are not necessarily the songs people want to hear you sing."
- On Seacrest's mind games during elimination nights: "I actually told Ryan right before the show [on Wednesday], 'Hey, man, don't mess around with me tonight, come on.' If I had a choice, they would mail me the results."
- On what he plans to do when he gets back to North Carolina: "I want to sit on the couch, I want to wake up at noon, and I want to go get a Sunrise Biscuit."
Photos courtesy of Fox