By Michael Slezak
August 23, 2009 at 12:00 PM EDT

Ask most folks who’ve been to the 2009 American Idols Live tour, and they’ll tell you the big revelation among the season 8 top 10 finalists is fifth-place finisher Matt Giraud. At the tour stops I attended in Newark, NJ, and Albany, NY, Matt’s electrifying performances — vocally and on the keyboards — on “Hard to Handle,” “Georgia on My Mind,” and “You Found Me” left the crowd (even folks like me, who didn’t quite warm up to Matt during his season 8 tenure) on its feet. I caught up with Matt in the latter city to ask him about why he’s playing so loose and funky these days, and to find out about the music he’s been writing for the last couple months at hotel-lobby pianos across the country. Press play below, and enjoy! (And if you missed Mr. Giraud’s hilarious first appearance on Idolatry back in May, don’t miss the link below!)

More Matt Giraud, ‘American Idol’:

Kris Allen dishes his new CD, going country

Megan Joy: Still fighting for independence on the Idol tour

Matt Giraud’s ‘Idolatry’ exit interview

Jason Castro discusses his debut album and his hot new single

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