Lil Rounds had an interesting run on American Idol this year. She started off as one of the frontrunners, but then--just as quickly as they had singled her out earlier for praise--the judges (particularly Simon Cowell) suddenly turned on her, being extremely critical at times. And sometimes they were critical for somewhat illogical reasons (what was she SUPPOSED to sing on Country Night?). But Lil always handled herself with class (I actually liked it when she stood up for herself), and despite the judges' complaints about some of her song choices, there was one thing about Lil that was never up for debate: the fact that the woman could seriously SING.
Although the judges sometimes accused Lil of having some sort of identity crisis, it's worth noting that in AmIdol season 8, she was the sole soul singer on the show. Although, in our interview, Lil was quick to point out that her fellow contestant Anoop "Dogg" Desai also brought some welcome R&B flava to AI 8, she was still the only straight-up soul diva this year--an odd turn of events considering past seasons in which R&B was more strongly represented (the powerhouse trifecta of Fantasia Barrino/Jennifer Hudson/LaToya London in season 3, or Melinda Doolittle and LaKisha Jones making it to the top four in season 6, for instance). But, as Lil was also happy to point out in our interview, she was very proud to represent R&B this year.
When I sat down with Lil at the Idols Live Tour rehearsals amid all sorts of Idol chaos (look for Kris Allen, Anoop Desai, and Allison Iraheta's mom Sara all milling about in the background, and listen towards the end when Allison's singing almost drowns Lil out for a minute!), she seemed very excited about getting the chance to present her true self on the tour, thanks to having complete control over her song selections now. Perhaps that's why she appeared so radiant. (On a total side note: Lil Rounds was STUNNING in person. Not that I ever thought she wasn't attractive, of course, but I was really surprised at how pretty she was in real life. She looked like a star.)
While Lil didn't reveal her tour songs to me on camera, later when I watched a bit of the rehearsals, during a high-energy group performance of Madcon's "Beggin'" she performed the rap section--and she was good! She looked like she was having a blast, and it made me wonder if hip-hop might be in her future, along with the R&B and jazz directions she told me she wants to take on her debut album.
Check out our chat below. Up next...Anoop Desai!
The Idols Live Tour starts July 5, buy your tickets HERE!
- Simon Cowell