American Idol Tour: Anoop Desai, Adam Lambert, and That Guy Who Won Show Jersey Some Love
"American Idols Live!"
Prudential Center in Newark
Saturday, August 8
The Top 10 American Idol contestants of Season 8 came to Newark, New Jersey on Saturday night. That meant lots of "Whattup New-ARK!"s and "I've always dreamed of performing in Jersey" announcements from the oh-so-sincere singers, who, if you recall (I couldn't), are Megan Joy, Michael Sarver, Scott MacIntyre, Lil Rounds, Anoop Desai, Matt Giraud, Allison Iraheta, Danny Gokey, Adam Lambert, and Kris Allen.
#10, #9, #8: Uh... oops.
In a race against the punctual, well-oiled machine that is the American Idol tour and its apparently stringent 7pm start time, I allow my bags and my person to be thoroughly frisked in the lobby while someone on stage shouts props to "America!" (I'm certain it's Michael Sarver) and then some mildly inspirational pop music indicates Scott MacIntyre's entrance. I don't actually make it all the way down to my floor seats (aka the seventh circle of hell) until #7-to-get-the-boot Lil Rounds is already singing. So I didn't see Blind Guy and he didn't see me. And wait, that means I missed the oil roughneck AND Megan Joy? Well-timed.
Seriously, I thought there'd be an opening act consisting of Ford commercials, a Guitar Hero jam, and Coca-Cola showers for everyone in the stadium. But I guess they didn't get the memo that more of their audience runs on gay-time than ever before.
#7: Lil Rounds
Anyway, I dutifully take my seat among fans of the more die-hard or rich-parented variety only a few rows from the stage, where every flaw masked by the magic of television becomes crystal clear to the naked eye. Lil, who choses long, loose curls, jiggles about in a sleeveless black raincoat with rhinestone trim. She sticks to light R&B with Mary J. Blige's "Be Without You" and Alicia Keys's "No One," and then tries to encourage us to "party" with her--ripping off her coat to reveal a gold-belted black onesie--for "Single Ladies." And by "party" she means karaoke night at the local hockey stadium: all the words to Beyonce's opus flash behind Lil at the audience.
#6: Anoop Desai
The same graphic screen that was Lil's teleprompter now shows blue skies and clouds while some piano lightly tinkles in the background and Anoop takes the stage. He can best be described as smart frat-boy, in white chinos, vest, plaid tie, nightclub wristband, and button-down blue shirt that flutters when he steps in front of the strategically positioned desk fan at the edge of the stage. His voice is certainly better than it was on the show, at least on the three numbers he's been singing on a loop for a few months now: "Always on My Mind," Ne-Yo's "Mad," and Britney's "My Prerogative." Anoop tells us he'll be back in Newark next year on his solo tour. Ha, he probably will.
#5: Matt Giraud
Justin Timberlake's face appears on the screen. It's about this point of the evening that I realize I have no idea who's in the Top 10 anymore. Matt who? I sneak a peek at the program the boy next to me got his dad to buy him and see 10 faces plastered on the front. But so many look the same! Slowly it comes back--Matt is the other Kris, the one who didn't win. He sings the Black Crowes's "Hard to Handle," runs around the stage, and then jams on the piano. Piano skills are always hot, and they are still in use for "Georgia on My Mind" and the Fray's "You Found Me." Every time he sings "surrounded," the backups--in black-tie, seated on stools--disinterestedly spin their fingers in circles. Matt tries to raise the energy level: "Cell phones to the sky!"
As I'm writing that ingenious quote down, nose buried in notebook, I hear a Powerpuff Girl or some other infantile cartoon character singing, "You're just too good to be true/Can't take my eyes off of you." I look up. It's Megan Joy. With rhinestones stuck to her tattoo arm. Before intermission, all of tonight's singers so far, in slick black suits, take on a medley of oldies. After Megan duets with Lil, a double piano comes up out of the stage's nether regions and Matt and Scott do "Tell Her About It." Then Michael Sarver, who looks exactly like a secret service agent, sings "Suspicious Minds." Anoop comes out in a cute pair of black horn-rimmed specs for his solo, and then all six line up to end the first act, which does lead into a Ford commercial (whew!) in which the Idols' hair, faces, and chins get all jumbled. Adam's hair on Kris's face? Awesome.