Daily Archives: November 5, 2009

The Struggle to Emerge from the Shadow of American Idol


I cannot wait until American Idol hurries up and gets off my TV set.  Why?  So, its alumni can actually FLOURISH beyond the glare of this monstrous behemoth.  Seriously, there are some amazing talents that came off that insipid reality TV show (one whom I’ve devoted a whole blog to – hi David! – and two whom I religiously follow on twitter: again, hi David! Hi Melinda Doolittle!).  

They are seriously amazing, take-us-back-to-the-rope vocalists with mad talent.  And all anyone can talk about is why they’re not mega superstars.  All anyone can talk about is how Carrie Underwood, another mad vocalist coming off that love-to-hate-but-hate-to-love-it talent show, earned 300-350K in her first sales for her new album, Play On (and not about the merits of her album – is she real country or just pop country? What is the level of her artistry? Nah! Who cares about those things when she’s pulling in numbers like that!).  Carrie Underwood, whom I like to call the “Game Changer,” really pushed the expectations for American Idol alumni over the edge.  With numbers like that, and in this economy no less, do we wonder why the powers that be over at 19 keep the emphasis on sales and not on the tremendous talent they’ve been able to find through their sadistic show?

Because, of course, no one is going to acknowledge that, yes, the all-American girl who can belt like nobody’s business (as Fantasia once said about her, “Heifer, you found your soul” – or however she had put it, heh) and singing in the biggest music genre that is country music, is way ahead of the game.  That can’t be duplicated (although Chris Daughtry is also a huge seller, thanks to the continued popularity of rock music).  Still, what is the most destructive influence brought to us by American Idol has been that never-ending competition that we’ve prolonged even after the confetti has fallen and the atrocious coronation song has been wailed to death.  

Honestly, I don’t care if David or Melinda, or any other worthy Idol alumni matches the sales numbers of Carrie Underwood or Daughtry.  I don’t care if Adam Lambert lives up to the hype (and the level of promotion RCA has given him) created around him.  I care that, once the Idol glare is off them, they can actually make a living doing what they love to do.  And that they’re not expected to prolong the competition that their Idol fans have unfairly tossed them into.  Honestly, would we Archies really care about sales if we didn’t have the trauma of seeing David lose to David Cook and not having the confetti fall for him? *Sniffle.*

All I know is, David said something profound in his interview with Jim Cantiello on MTV (see the video in my previous post).  “I don’t think songs have to be like these super-#1-smash-hit-sounding songs, because I think it’s more important that it’s like, ‘Hey! This is coming out of me. This is something I connect with. This is something that I like to sing.'”   

Did ya hear that, Jive? Simon Fuller? Simon Cowell (who could only say, during the days of “Crush’s” success, how David would “sell lots of records”)?  Don’t be pulling the plug on my boy if he doesn’t meet Carrie Underwood’s sales expectations.  I’m keeping my eyes on all you shady folk who sacrificed the soul in music.

I digress.  I’m in a fantastic mood because David and Mindy Doo’s tweets are so full of wit and everydayness and L.O.V.E.  Melinda was just promoting an appearance by Syesha Mercado (‘member her?  She was the “last woman standing” during David’s season – she’s also the first one David chose to “follow” on twitter), who is now starring in a theater production of the show, Dreamgirls.  When you check out her appearance on the Wendy Williams show (who you can tell never watched an episode of American Idol, ha!), it’s so obvious Syesha is still traumatized by the fact that she was overshadowed by the “Battle of the Davids”:

Meanwhile, Syesha can hold her own (yes, I think she sounds better than Beyonce in the same role), and I want to hug her and say, “It’s okay. We all still love you.  David loves you too! You rock!”

Ugh! When American Idol finally goes off the air, how many tortured souls will we need to nurture back to their soulful health?  

And then there are Idol alumni like David and Melinda who do what they can to support and promote their own.  Meanwhile, Melinda, like David, is just quietly doing her own thing (here’s Melinda’s performance at New York City’s Feinstein, where she will be performing November 17-21  – man, what would I give to see David in a similar venue, where the audience is more mature and less inclined to screaming):

It’s like watching kites unable to soar as high as they could because of some can (*cough* American Idol*cough*) tied to their strings.  I honestly believe American Idol needs to fade away from our public memory so that these talented alumni can come into their own.  Yes, they made a choice to appear on the show in search of fame and recognition and an entryway into the music and entertainment scene.  

But how much has this been helpful?  How much has been a hindrance?  How can any of these talented individuals really flourish beyond their humble beginnings as an Idol contestant?  I mean, Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson still gets introduced FIRST as former American Idol contestant before her other, more prestigious accolades.  That’s saying something, isn’t it?

I guess I just want Idol alumni like David, like Melinda Doolittle, like Syesha Mercado, and a host of others to be seen as who they want to be: serious music artists and actors who found a platform to launch them out there.  That’s fair enough.  What’s not fair is how that platform has become the point of their raison d’etre.  When AI is no more, will that still be the case?

David Archuleta Writing ‘Fun Music’ For Next Album – News Story | Music, Celebrity, Artist News | MTV News

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