'American Idol' alum Adore Delano recalls experience as show ends its run

Adore Delano – who is currently touring Europe with RuPaul’s “Battle of the Seasons,” and promoting her own new hit dance album, “After Party” – took time to reminisce with Fox News Latino about the show that launched her career,“American Idol,” which comes to a close Thursday night after 15 seasons.

Delano, a drag queen whose real name is Danny Noriega, was a flamboyant semifinalist from Season 8 who was lauded by then-judge Simon Cowell as courageous.

He made a splash with his audition of “Proud Mary” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. After one of his live performance of "Tainted Love," his sassy rapport with Cowell went viral.

“Being on ‘Idol’ was an amazing experience,” Noriega, 26, told FNL recently from Ireland. “We had a lot of pressure to do each show, but they really helped shape me as an artist and get to where I am. It was pretty awesome.”

He was eliminated after making it into the top 16 – where he sang Gloria Jones’ “Tainted Love” – which Soft Cell had a massive hit with in the early 1980s – but his performance got the attention of thousands of fans including Rosie O’Donnell, who invited him to perform on her R Family Vacations cruise, and Ellen DeGeneres, who invited him to appear on her talk show.

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Noriega’s career took an “unexpected direction – good unexpected” when he became a YouTube personality, performing drag skits as Adore Delano and later auditioned for “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”

“My whole world has been turned upside down,” he gushed about being part of RuPaul’s drag world. “We are literally touring the world, and people are listening to my music.”

“After Party” is Noriega’s second studio album and it opened No.1 in Billboard’s US Dance/Electronic chart when it dropped on March 11.

He said this new album shows his growth, not only as an artist but as a person.

“'Till Death Do Us Party,’ I think we put out a great pop album that we recorded in like three days, and it was so much fun to tour,” Noriega said. “[But] ‘After Party’ shows me growing up, and everyone seems to love it.”

While Noriega loves presenting his music to the world, he understands that he has a bigger message for young Latinos who might not feel completely comfortable with who they are: It’s OK.

“I want them to know you can be sad – that it’s part of growing up – and that school is not forever,” he said. “I grew up in a small Latino community that was very masculine-driven. They challenged me, and when I started talking back is [when] I realized that there is more out there.”

“American Idol” is down to the last two finalists in the show’s history. La'Porsha Renae or Trent Harmon will be crowned as this season's winner when the Fox singing contest ends its run on Thursday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.