Margaret Hair: Sudden 'Idol' addiction

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Margaret Hair

Margaret Hair's column appears Fridays in the 4 Points arts and entertainment section in the Steamboat Today. Contact her at 871-4204 or e-mail mhair@steamboatpilot.com.

My home state has an almost wizard-like ability to produce the kind of sweet-voiced, personality-rich contestants that make it to the final rounds of "American Idol."

Call it the barbecue theory: Through a difficult-to-unravel formula of tangible history, intangible culture, religious influence and crazy-good, vinegar-based shredded pork products, North Carolina has created a playing field that spawns likeable, Southern-accented television-ready personalities with soulful voices.

Evidence: Clay Aiken (Charlotte, N.C.) - second place, season two. Fantasia Barrino (High Point, N.C.) - first place, season three. Chris Daughtry (McLeansville, N.C.) - fourth place, season five.

There might be more, but my eight-years-running effort not to pay any active attention to "American Idol" could have blocked them out.

That effort recently was smashed to bits by "American Idol" season eight contestant Anoop Desai, who went to the same college I did and is still there as a graduate student.

I have a couple of loose connections to this person - he was friends with some of my roommates when I lived in Washington, D.C., and was sometimes around our apartment; he was in the same a cappella group as the housemates of one of my close friends and probably was featured on the CDs that seemed to blare constantly from their upstairs stereo.

So, this is not someone who I knew well, or really at all. But for the past two weeks, I haven't been able to stop reading Google news alerts about Anoop.

I want to know how he does, this guy who likes the same basketball team I do, who once (wisely) recommended programming the phone number for DC Elite Cab in my cell phone, and who is now - without warning, because I haven't seen an episode of "American Idol" in about four years - a name that returns 645 news articles when I search for it on the Internet.

But now, on Wednesday afternoon, my search is informing me that Anoop kind of bombed the night before on TV. Apparently, his rendition of Michael Jackson's "Beat It" was enough to inspire some of the cheesiest, most obvious headlines I've seen in a while.

And that's just it: I just got defensive about an "American Idol" contestant, which until a couple of weeks ago would have been just as likely as me getting defensive about Duke men's basketball or Nickelback (two things it would be hard to imagine disliking more).

Hopefully, Anoop won't be gone from the "Idol" stage by the time this prints. It would take days to sift through all the Google returns on that.

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