“I Really Feel For Them”

You know I adore David and his diplomacy, like in one of his recent tweets:

Just finished watching the Idol results show. Bummed about some of the people leaving already, but congrats to the top 12!

If I combine this tweet with what he has revealed about his feelings for current contestants on American Idol in interviews – “I really feel for them! I know what they’re going through!” – I am so ready for the expose on what really goes on behind the scenes.  Because, honestly, when I see photos like the following

you can’t help but wonder what kind of soul-crushing, life-denigrating force is unleashed on this show.  Pop Watch basically described Crystal Bowersox (pictured left), who is the FRONTRUNNER mind you, in the following terms: “I kinda worry that last night’s events may have broken something in the Idol frontrunner that will not be easily mended.”  I just think it’s good old fashioned “disillusionment.” It’s the sudden realization that, no matter how good you are, if you don’t inspire crazed text-voting fans to vote for you, you’re done.  The myth of “the best wo/man winning” is shattered.  But then, we Archies already know that all too well, don’t we?

And, can I just say, as an aside, that I’m really getting tired of folks pointing to former contestants like David as a “poster boy” for what’s wrong with American Idol in which “popularity beats out talent”?  Um… What?!  David?  Really?  How dare anyone think the travesty of contestants like Aaron Kelly and Katie Stevens getting into the finals over talented singers like Alex Lambert and Lilly Scott is indicative of the same forces that pushed David all the way to the finale.  Get off the collective crack!  No matter how hard some folks push the line that Aaron Kelly is David Archuleta 2.0, it just ain’t true!  

Cuteness does not automatically equal sucktastic vocals, people!

But that argument is neither here nor there.  The bottom line is, there was something decidedly painful in watching someone’s dreams crash and burn.  And in all my years of watching this show, I had never felt so bad for contestants getting eliminated like I did last night when watching the heartwrenching drama of Alex Lambert failing to make Top 12.  The Pop Watch behind-the-scenes play-by-play only makes things worse.  With David and Melinda, it’s different. I was just outraged that they failed to capture the AI title because they came so close only to come up empty.  And both of these artists were mad talented but had so much humility, many in the audience questioned their sincerity – so sure are we that talented artists are full of themselves.  

I think music artists come in two shades: the gregarious types (the Fantasias and Big Mikes and David Cooks and Kelly Clarksons) and the introverted types (the Davids and Melindas and Carrie Underwoods).  Someone like Alex Lambert definitely falls into the latter category. And what we, as an audience, often overlook is that, no matter how scared and nervous and full of stage fright they are, these introverted musicians still feel passionate enough to want to share their gifts with us.  This latter group are known as the “sensitive” types. The gregarious ones are sensitive too; they just know how to create better facades.

Why some of us felt bad about Alex Lambert is that he was slowly starting to come out of his shell.  He already had to recover from Simon Cowell’s bad behavior. To then have “America” tell you that you’re not worthy enough to move on to the next level is a rough kind of rejection for someone who was already cautiously sharing his gifts with us. It was a harsh cruel discarding of his gifts, and quite frankly, I know what that’s like. It’s going to be a hard road to recovery of a healthy self-esteem.  I’m relieved to learn that Ellen was definitely giving him a pep-talk (it’s the kind of thing a compassionate person would do, but I’m kind of mad at Ellen myself because, had she not given that inadequate Tim Urban a hug when Tim finished performing, he wouldn’t have ciphered votes from Alex), but his wounded soul – laid bare for all of us to see – really illustrated Paula’s function in the first place.  

There are some performers who need confidence-boosters, not ego-shredders (which should only be reserved for cocky performers), and I expect someone like Simon Cowell to know the difference.  Ellen may have filled Paula’s shoes in this capacity, but she hasn’t been on the show long enough to learn how best to maneuver this role.  And Kara – let’s face it – is a “mean girl.”  She has no feelings (except fabricated ones to make her “look good”).  I also think she’s homophobic (people see her moving her chair closer to Simon – I see her moving away from Ellen). 

All this is to say:  I’m now thinking a little more deeply about David’s comments: “I just really feel for them.” He said it this year, and he said it last year, and when he returned to the show to perform “Touch My Hand” (pictured above), he froze up, as if he were reliving that “experience” (which he pretty much did as he revealed in an interview).  

So, it makes me wonder: what exactly is there for David to “feel so much” of?  Will he reveal this in Chords of Strength?  Is there still a gag order on what former contestants can talk about concerning their Idol experiences?  

All I know is: the feelings I witnessed last night were genuine, and they were painful to behold, and as someone described on a discussion board, I watch TV for entertainment, not “Trauma-tainment.”  There seems to be a fine line between watching someone pursue their dreams and watching someone get kicked unceremoniously to the curb for no justified reason and mercilessly stomped on in the process.  I certainly didn’t sign up for the latter.

Posted on March 12, 2010, in American Idol. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Season 7:

    David Cook = popularity
    David Archuleta = talent

    David Cook was the “cool” choice, which has little to do with talent.

    • But now, 2 years later, David Archuleta = popularity and talent.

      I feel bad for Alex and Lily but when I put things in perspective, I can’t really call it an upset. For me, they were two of the best ones in a group of really mediocre contestants … so maybe it’s the worst top 12 ever but even if those two have made it, it’d still be the worst top 12 ever . I don’t know how to express it correctly in English …

      We know since the begining of this season that they want a girl to win but I’m not betting on Crystal to win because we know that early front runners never win at the end (and I think that last night results were what the producers wanted, Aaron and Tim will attract young viewers).

      Oh, and finally, two years later, the newspapers acknowledge David’s talent. One of the best quotes is “I think performances like Kelly’s just goes to show how spoiled American Idol fans were with David Archuleta.”

  2. I´m glad the American Idol experience didn´t wound him emotionally, though it must´ve been really tough for a young boy to deal with all that came with it (and to top it all he had to study for school!). I don´t know if David knew then, how evil people can be in the entertainment industry.

    I hate it when “reality-tv” (often times reality has nothing to do with it) adds compulsory load on the people´s shoulders – for example American Idol should be about finding a talented singer and a good rolemodel, who has longevity too. But seems to me like AI focuses more on humiliation, drama, “funny” bad singers and GOSSIP.

    And let´s face it; in AI people are portrayed in a way that puts them into a mold. Once AI noticed that David´s humble nature and obvious talent was authentic, they wanted to find drama to break the perfection. So they gave David certain types of songs and someone hinted to the press about the stage-dad thing. With Cook, they fiested on the tension between him and Simon. AI has nothing to do with talent anymore, and I believe the show will come to an end as Simon moves on to X-Factor.

    As sensitive as David is, he truly has chosen his path and won´t let anything stop him. To me, he proved it in that Youtube video of him saying “my interest is in girls” and he adds that he doesn´t care what people say or don´t say ´cause there´s always gonna be gossip and the kind of idiots who spread it around (my words, not his). He is so strong in his spirit and yet seems so fragile when he pours all his emotions into a song. What is he made of?!?!?

  3. raelovingangels

    HG: I am enjoying your rants about all this. It is very catharatic.

  4. Here’s a tidbit from an exit interview from Alex Lambert:
    I had another song in mind: “Let Me Love You” by Mario. It’s an R&B song, but I was going to change it up and make it my own. But it was a song a lot of people didn’t know so I went with my second choice because one of the producers was telling me, “If you do this song, you’ll get more votes.” But obviously I didn’t get enough. I wish I would’ve done the other song. I wish I didn’t listen to the producer. But I still feel like, vocally, the song I sang, I didn’t think it was bad enough for me to go home, but it is what it is.

    Mario’s Let Me Love You is very popular!

    Oh, the sabotage, the sabotage… did they really think he would pose a threat to TCO?

    • Mario’s Let Me Love You was a hit even in France. Radios here still play it sometimes…

    • I just read all the exit interviews; Lilly was also swayed by the producers. Why am I not surprised? I like Toddrick’s advice to everyone who left – pick yourself up and focus on what you want to do next.

      Excerpt from Lilly’s interview:

      Did she consider doing contemporary songs from artists like Thom Yorke and Bjork on the show?
      “I definitely considered that…but in a way the producers swayed me against doing songs like that because they’re almost less well known than people like Sam Cooke and Patsy Cline.”

      • I saw that, too, Desertrat. Either they really thought Lilly and Alex were a threat, or they really don’t have a clue about music. Maybe it’s both.

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