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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, June 25, 2009

‘Idol’s’ Top 10 polish up act in tour rehearsals

By Richard Rushfield
Los Angeles Times

HOLLYWOOD — In two weeks, the Top 10 contestants of Season 8 of “American Idol” will climb aboard buses for the final rite of an Idol’s passage: the 50-city concert tour set to kick off in Portland, Ore., on July 5. For the Idols, the tour represents not only a chance to play rock star in packed arenas, but also the biggest paydays of their careers, with checks of reportedly $100,000-plus coming their way for the four months of labor.

But before the road, there are songs to arrange, dance moves to choreograph, wardrobes to fit, and a few last moments of peace.
Last week, a giddy first-day-of-school feeling reigned over lunch at the Idols’ Burbank rehearsal space, where the 10 convened for their first group rehearsal. Over beef kebabs and chocolate cake, the mood was cheerful and hyper as this year’s winner, Kris Allen, along with Megan Joy, Matt Giraud, Michael Sarver, Anoop Desai and Lil Rounds chatted, breaking sporadically into Journey’s ubiquitous “Don’t Stop Believing.”
Because these are twentysomethings, one topic of conversation kept coming up: Can one resist the call of Twitter?
Desai, Giraud and Sarver are all committed tweeters. Rounds, Joy and Allen have thus far held out. Giraud told Desai that he knew they would be friends when he saw Desai had an iPhone. This year has marked the first in which, thanks to Twitter, “Idol” contestants have been able to speak directly to the public. But that has presented challenges.
“I tweeted that I was at Disneyland,” Giraud said about a trip a week earlier, “and when I came outside there were six people waiting for me.”
For Joy, the pressures of the Twitter revolution and generally developing her online presence loom as a headache. “I got meganjoy.org,” she said, “But I haven’t done anything with it. I really hate the online stuff. If I Twittered, I am such a perfectionist, I would need to do it all the time.”
Another question put to the table elicited groans: What is the dumbest thing you get asked by the media?
“Did America get it right?” Desai said to nods of agreement. “What are you going to do after the tour?” He again offered. “They expect you to have your whole career planned already.”
“How did you feel when …” said Rounds.
“When you were voted off,” said others, finishing the thought. “When Simon called you … ”
Lunch over, they were soon in rehearsal, where the giggles continued during a run-through of the finale: Journey’s classic power ballad, which the group sang while being put through their paces by a choreographer and a voice coach.
During one pause, Danny Gokey broke into a rap: “You know if I’m on my iPhone, I am Matt Giraud.” Giraud, using the lull to text or tweet, glanced up and laughed.
They reached the last lines of the Journey song, when it transitioned into “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye,” and then back to “Don’t Stop Believing’s” final crescendo. Despite the giggles and the jokes, the group delivered the concluding harmony with force, fists raised in the air.
As the rest teased Giraud about the weak angle of his extended arm, the perfectionist Adam Lambert stepped forward to confer with the vocal coach. “That transition to ‘nah, nah, nah, nah, hey, hey,’ felt sloppy to me,” he said.
The others, however, revved up for the final leg of their “Idol” journey, seemed to be thinking of little but jumping on that midnight train going — as the song says — anywhere.