[WELL-LIKED: Anoop Desai has a large fan base who call themselves "Anooper Troopers" on the official American Idol forum.]
By TAY YEK KEAK
AMERICAN Idol Season 8 contestant Anoop Desai, the 22-year-old Indian- American who was booted out of the contest last month, believes ethnicity played a part in his popularity at first.
"It set me apart from everybody else," the North Carolina native said in a teleconference from Los Angeles with Asianmedia yesterday. Ultimately, ethnicity mattered less as he progressed in the contest as "it was no longer about breaking the stereotype but about what I was doing on the stage".
Given that he's seen as a potential "Hollywood/Bollywood crossover", what does Desai himself think of that notion?
"To be honest with you, I'm not really that keyed in. I consider myself to be an American because I've lived here all my life," said the University of North Carolina graduate in cultural anthropology with a laugh.
"But I would love to go to India, the land of Bollywood, and sing my music for the audience.
That would be really cool."
The only son of a software-engineer dad and biochemist mum, he has not been approached with offers for record deals yet, although he will go on a nationwide summer tour with the other Top 10 Idols.
No doubt he'll be a hit. Affectionately dubbed "Anoop Dawg", he was well-liked by the audience, and has a large fan base who call themselves "Anooper Troopers" on the official American Idol forum.
The problem is, when he aspired to sing R&B, his genre of choice, he bombed. His performance of Usher's Caught Up, for example, landed him in the bottom three, three weeks before his eventual elimination.
"I definitely could've done a better job of performing on stage," Desai said.
"Hopefully, my performances on the Idol tour will help me get a record deal. This is a dream for me to pursue music and it's what I think I'm best at."
Asked who he is rooting for as the winner in this season, Desai was politely diplomatic.
"It's very important to realise that each one of them - Adam Lambert, Danny Gokey and Kris Allen - has their own thing to offer to the competition. And they all have very excitable fan bases as well."
So do you, Anoop Dawg. So do you.
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