American “Christian” Idol

Check out this LA Times article on “American Idol and Religion.”

First of all, these folks are soooooooo late with their observations.  I could have told them that contestants on Idol are primarily Christian folks. Whether we are talking about Idol winners Ruben, Fantasia, Carrie, Taylor, Jordin Sparks, and Kris Allen as church folk, or other contestants like Jennifer Hudson, who once threw a “praise party” on the eve of her winning her Oscar, Mandisa (pictured above), who dared to sing a gospel song on the show, and Danny Gokey, who is a church leader.

Second of all, just because Jordin Sparks is one of the few Idol winners not from a “Bible Belt” state (she is from Arizona) does not mean she doesn’t fit within this Idol Christian mode: she wears a purity ring and used to attend pro-life rallies, so why is she being written out of this narrative?

Third of all, where the heck is David Archuleta? Why is he missing from this article?  Is it because Mormons don’t count? I mean, this is an article about American Idol and religion, and yet nothing is mentioned about contestants like David and Brooke White and John Peter Lewis.  I think that adds another layer to this.

Finally, what is the point of this article?  Are there concerns that the “Christians” are taking over? (Not necessarily; they just happen to be the breeding ground for amateur singers and performers to develop their talents).  Is this a much-too-late reaction to the voting bloc that churches organized in support of Kris Allen last year (which was more like a veiled homophobic reaction to vote against openly gay Adam Lambert. That’s right: I said it!)?  I mean, what is the point?

And if you’re going to talk about Idol and religion, why aren’t different religious groups represented? What about Jewish contestants like Elliot Yamin, and secular contestants like Adam?  Any Catholic contestants? None readily come to mind.

I think the subject is worthy for discussion, but I’m not sure this article is revelatory, nor is it pointing toward a growing trend, especially considering that the finalists this year – Crystal Bowersox and Lee Dewyze – don’t represent that “Bible Belt” base.  So, again, what is the point?

Posted on May 26, 2010, in American Idol. Bookmark the permalink. 33 Comments.

  1. raelovingangels

    Churches have been raising singers for years. Especially with funding cuts to the schools- church is a natural place for talent to develop. Can I have an Amen?

    I am reluctant to voice this PURE water cooler speculation. But, knowing how hard David works, and when he started the sophmore album- the many writers and early positive buzz- even with touring, book, Christmas album, it still “feels” a bit like someone sent him back to the drawing board a few times. I will wait forever for new music from David- but after seeing that A & R/Hanson video that Joymus posted- gotta wonder what is going on behind the scenes. David is hot- where is the urgency from the lable? Just PURE speculation and I would not want any backlash-against anyone- on musing. We want David to be happy- and yeah the lable/funder/ has to be happy- but just hope there is not too ( cough cough) much pressure for that commercial formula. David generally is so thoughtful about song selection. Is he having to fight to songs and show case one in particular he is fighting for?

    • hell0g0rge0us

      Thanks for saying this, Rae. I was getting the same feeling too. I mean, I know what David has said about how this “Portrait” album needs to reflect him, and David’s persistence is the passive-aggressive kind (translation: this could take a while). With the music charts filled with the likes of Ke$ha and Justin Bieber, I have a feeling there is a quiet battle going on, hence why we have no new single leaked yet. I just hope David wins this one!

  2. raelovingangels

    oh- ps- I missed most of the finale- actuallly had something much more important- to go to my daughters gymnastics show. But caught the end where Crystal was asked to reflect on her time. I don’t know if she is just a young lady who has a tough outer shell because she has had a hard life? I do appreciate tough cookies- But she sure refuses to offer appreciation for the opportunity AI gave her to showcase her talents – She gives off that vibe every time I have seen her interviews. . Honestly she acts a lot like she can take it or leave it- which is why- even though she is the better singer- I see the public going with the appreciate Lee.
    She does not seem to have the maturity to realize or does not care about the once in a lifetime opportinity. Maybe she would be just has happy singing at a bar in her home town? That is a choice also.l

  3. I’ve thought a lot about this topic. I believe it’s because many of the contestants above are evangelical Christians, which is mainstream to a large population sector away from the East or West Coasts. Mormons are still considered not mainstream by many Christians, some of whom would refer to the religion as a cult. I know many evangelicals who would not even consider Mormons Christian. I notice that David is always careful to talk in generalities and to mention topics such as Jesus and God, very general.

    I am not saying that I agree with the above, but it’s what I’ve observed.

    Is Jon Peter Lewis Mormon?

    Mandisa is very well known in evangelical circles, appears regularly in Christian media, and tours nationally and performs at women’s talks. I am not an evangelical, but I do think that Mandisa is an incredible person and I have tons of respect for her!

  4. hell0g0rge0us

    Good points, Freo.

    As for Crystal not seeming “grateful” … Ah! The politics of ass-kissing. She was clearly the superior performer, and she could lose because she failed to show humility!

    Where have I heard that one before? Especially for women?

    Not that I’ll lose sleep over this. I’m more irked than outraged that this is how the game is supposed to be played.

    But like I said: I had a a very easy formula for how Crystal could have won (she still might but Dial Idol shows Lee in the lead), and she chose to do her own thing. That was her choice also, but if she really wanted this win, she could have done it if she played the game well.

    For me, Rae, her real lack of AI appreciation comes from not having watched the show in the first place! I can’t feel bummed about her losing to Lee (if she does tonight) because she failed to PREPARE adequately for the show.

    It’s just crazy to me, when you think about it. I’ve been invited to appear on local radio and TV shows, just for a few minutes to offer my expertise on certain topics, and I NEVER just show up cold without knowing the format in which I will be appearing.

    So, that’s where I blame Crystal mostly if she loses.

    In order to win the game, you really need to know how to play the game.

  5. hell0g0rge0us

    This comment by “abbysee” over at MJ’s Big Blog sums up my feelings about American Idol exactly!

    For me though that didn’t start with this season. Even though I always have a horse, idol returns started diminishing for me season 6. I haven’t fully enjoyed a season since season 5. That season was chock full of talent, from stem to stern. Since then the casting has been uninspired and the voting, odd to say the least. Why give me Melinda Dolittle but then tell me she was too perfect, or too humble, or not pretty enough? Why dangle the possibility of a true teen idol, only to kick the stuffing out of him with personal attacks? They could have had a singing Bieber on their hands. Why be so OTT with Adam when his talent could stand on its own? I think it created a backlash that led to a disappointing winner. This year I blame the audience more than casting. Why did Katie and NotArchie survive to deep into the competion, and Lilly,The Epperly girl leave so soon? That wasn’t a casting issue. I just think women are having a tough time on this show because of its demographics. If this had truly been a woman’s year, I think it would have been more interesting.

  6. I agree it doesn’t sound like Crystal was into “the whatever it takes gameplan to win.” Maybe she said to herself “this is me and I am going to win or lose on my own terms.” And I wish her much luck with that.

    Didn’t know if others had already posted- it seems like David has picked Lee to win it. He says Lee is connecting. And that Lee is a great guy. Hmm? This per his interview with zap2it.

    On the other side of the coin which I think David would not say is what others are saying. Crystal has not shown that she is wanting it bad enough. To me Lee hasn’t shown me he is deserving of it just based on his vocals.

    The dilemma of the voters- vote for the one who can sing but is not showing us her underbelly (is that what it takes here?) or the one who can’t sing very well and the one, who to me, hasn’t really shown he wants it bad enough to improve his skills.

    • hell0g0rge0us

      “Lee is connecting,” that’s what David says?

      That’s some serious irony here. David was connecting too, but he didn’t win.

      So, how in heck does Lee “connecting” enable him the win but David who “connected” and sang circles around his competition didn’t?

      Seriously, if Lee wins when David couldn’t his season, then all good singers need to stay away from this show from now on.

      Then again, all my “advice” to Crystal was all about how to make a better connection to her audience, so it is important.

      • Bright Light

        Isn’t Lee the one that David’s little sister is “obsessed” with?

        Anyway, the part of the Zap2it interview which I think might shed light on why David is recommending Lee is when David says something like, ” Lee, as an American Idol, as a person, as an example for people . . . it would be right for him to have that.”

      • hell0g0rge0us

        Link please? Because that’s even worse! It implies that Crystal is “not an example for people.” Why? Because she’s an unwed mother? Because she’s poor? Considering that David never implied such things when it came to Adam (but David didn’t take sides last year), makes me wonder what this interview is in context of.

        That’s it, folks! I need the full context! 😛

      • I like David speaking his mind even if I don’t agree with him. To me it shows his maturity and that his self-esteem is higher. The way the clip is edited, it’s impossible to know exactly where D’s coming from with his opinion. Also, we have no idea what Crystal and Lee may have said to D when they met him. Eg, Crystal may have said that the program is cheesy and that she can’t wait until it’s over. Ooops, that was me talking. 🙂

      • hell0g0rge0us

        You know, Desertrat, I could so hear Crystal saying something like that. But David abandoning “diplomacy” for “speaking his mind” does not equate with maturity, IMO. I do get that, when he met the contestants, Lee made a favorable impression on him over the others. Now, does that mean he should win American Idol? Even Simon Cowell said how “nice” Lee is last night, because he couldn’t compliment the vocals.

        I will say, though, that all this focus on what a “great guy” Lee is just makes me think that Crystal is not so nice (in fact, may be a holy terror). I do believe that’s why TPTB switched horses mid-season and why all anyone can say about her competitor is what a “nice guy” he is. So, that doesn’t really bode well for her future, does it?

    • I read that interview of David to Zap2it and I must say I was a little bit disappointed. He doesn’t usually take sides, so why now for ‘pitchy Lee’? Funny.

      • Is it possible that video was edited a bit?

      • Jen A- Good point. The video could have been edited and the context of the entire interview could make a difference in how his statements would be received.

      • It sounds like it was altered, because David’s voice cuts off at one point and immediately continues kinda unnaturally. I noticed it the first time I listened to the interview, so it’s actually quite obvious.

  7. “Finally, what is the point of this article?” I don’t get the point either. Besides David, I thought for sure they would have mentioned Chris Sligh and Chris Daughtry. The latter led a Christian rock band prior to Idol.

    FYI … Ellen has formed a new record label and has signed Greyson Chance. Chance is being managed by “two very connected managers” Gaga and Madonna’s.

    • hell0g0rge0us

      What?! To all of this info!

      Valbraz, I agree about David never taking sides. Not sure what’s up. First, his vocals were off on that new song. Now, he’s taking sides? And don’t get me started on the April twitter fiasco…

      • You’re a smart woman – don’t read too much into it 🙂

        And to our more critical ears Lee does sound pitchy and not really like someone who I, personally, would care to listen to. But David is different – he has said how Kendra “has an amazing voice”, when most of us fans didn’t really like her voice – some even said she sang too loudly etc.

        Then there’s Charice. She obviously has a good voice, but to me it’s nothing special and her vocal control isn’t too good (of course, I am spoiled having listened to David’s incredible singing), but David praised her too, enough so that she got to sing a duet with him on CFTH.

        There are plenty of examples. David seems to praise everyone and at the same time he doesn’t believe how unnaturally talented he is and how velvety his voice sounds. It’s like he’s living in a world where everything is upside down 😛

      • Embe, I respectfully disagree about Charice. I find her voice and pitch impeccable. Many don’t like her vocal stylings so much – I know I sometimes don’t. David’s musicality is more refined. But we wouldn’t have heard Charice struggle with her higher register like Crystal did last night. This young girl is a vocal powerhouse, but lacks soul. JMHO.

    • I can’t stand The Family. I hope Greyson Chance will fail miserably. Guess who will appear as a guest performer on AI next season, at least twice? Perhaps Greyson can mentor the contestants.

    • the Ellen record label thing…….it’s such a ridiculous conflict of interest

      she should resign from AI judging

  8. As a “lurker loo”, I would just like to clarify that the “Mormon” church is really called, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. AKA, a Christian church.
    I enjoy reading this site everyday. Always interesting and well thought out posting.
    I was surprised too that David told the interviewer that he thought Lee should win. Like a previous poster said, that’s usually not something he would do. David must have been very impressed by Lee when he met him on AI. Personally, I don’t have a favorite and don’t care who wins.
    Back to lurking.

  9. This is from a press release dated May 26:

    About Azoff Music Management

    Irving Azoff manages many top artists including: Josh Groban, Journey, Jewel, The Eagles, X Japan, Bush, REO Speedwagon, Seal, Christina Aguilera, David Archuleta, Alter Bridge, Van Halen, 30 Seconds to Mars, Neil Diamond, New Kids on the Block, Steely Dan, Guns N’ Roses and just recently signed New Edition. He is chairman and founder of Azoff Music Management Group, Inc. In late 2008, he became Chairman and CEO of Ticketmaster Entertainment. He is now the Chairman of Live Nation Entertainment.

  10. I think David was very impressed with the way Lee treated him when he on Idol. I remember him saying that Lee was very nice to him. He also said that his sister was in love with Lee! David even felt David Cook was an “American Idol” and deserved the title. I don’t think David was putting Crystal down but tried to answer the question honestly from his perspective. Many are praising him for taking a stand in a respectful manner. As far as the new song, I’m reminded of his first performance of Crush @ the Ford concert and how improved he was once he started performing it in concert. Again I think taking this risk in front of peers was brave and will improve over time. P.S Just finished David’s book and I’m more impressed than ever. (enough said for now)

  11. hell0g0rge0us

    Thanks for the link, Bright Lights! 🙂

    And thanks for the compliment, Embe. 😉

    You’re right: I am a “smart woman,” and what I saw was David “edited” to sound like he picked Lee. It sounds like he had great things to say about both Lee and Crystal. In fact, I would venture to say that he also probably mentioned the qualities that Crystal had to be a “good American Idol.” They just edited that part out since Zap2It is favoring Lee.

    David needs more training so he can stick to nice little soundbites and don’t add any extras that can get taken out of context.

    (I learned all about that in a media training workshop this weekend, so I could easily see how David’s words could be spun as a “Lee deserves to be the next American Idol” narrative.)

    • I am so sorry. I should have looked at this a LOT closer. My apologies to David and all concerned. Feeling pretty dumb right about now. 😦

      • hell0g0rge0us

        No worries, Comolaflor! We were just picking apart David’s words and decoding and reconstructing them. You know how we Archies get! 🙂

  12. A video about David and “Chords of Strengths” by Penguin Group USA:

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