Saturday, May 24, 2008

Challenge Complete

[Photo courtesy of]

The dust of David Archuleta’s “loss” on season seven of American Idol has settled, and my life is slowly returning to the way it was. I can’t say I wasn’t expecting a David Cook victory – in fact, I had not only called it at least six weeks earlier, but I had envisioned the confetti and the crying and the broad smiles had by Archuleta. Except my confetti was colorful – something the American Idol crew might want to look into next year.

This the first season I consistently watched American Idol, and it’s pretty safe to say that it’ll be my last. From my research, I’ve gathered that even for many veteran American Idol viewers, this season has been an especially emotional one. The emotional attachment to many of the contestants (I even felt a twinge in my heart when Brooke White was voted off, for crying out loud), in combination with my hunger to keep up with spoilers, news and behind-the-scenes interviews has gotten to be too much to take. I think I was as relieved as both Davids when the imminent David-squared finale drew a winner.

Alas, my American Idol challenge is complete; I will forgive myself for missing three episodes while on vacation mid-March. Here is what I learned:

There is a whole rabbit hole of traditions, conspiracy theories and terms out there for American Idol fanatics. I picked up a few – a pity, since I won’t be using them ever again: “TCO” (The Chosen One), “TPTB” (The Powers That Be, aka Randy, Paula and Simon and occasionally the evil producers such as Nigel Lythgoe), that contestants are often “thrown under the bus”, and “TMTH” (too much to handle), thanks to one Danny Noriega.

In addition to these foreign terms, I’ve learned to decipher Randy Jackson and swallow the overuse of words as “phonebook”, “baby”, “dawg” (this one I got over way back in Season One, when the press made fun of him for it) and “hot, hot, molten hot.” I have learned that fans of American Idol enjoy turning every mini-scandal into a “-gate” (see: “Paulagate”, “Promgate”, “Dadgate” or “Dadchuletagate”).

I have also learned that reading too much into the conspiracy theories is way trippy and only serves to hurt my brain, even if I am convinced something fishy’s going on.

That said, let’s celebrate the best moments of this season (from my very inexperienced American Idol perspective):
1. “I was thinking ... Bob Marley!”
Jason Castro was the best personality on this show. From his yawning to his happy-go-lucky attitude towards life, he was the source of stability and ... reality on an otherwise fantastical show.

2. The Top 2 Performances
I thought David Cook had it in the bag when he sang “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, but then DArchuleta upped him a notch (or four) with “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me”. And on and on ...

3. Chikezie Eze
The cutest contestant all season – I’ll never forget him bouncing around on stage following his performance of “She’s A Woman”. Or his mom. Or the horrific sight of Ryan Seacrest bouncing. [Photo courtesy of]

4. “It’s just ... gosh!”
David Archuleta, Utah, homecoming, tears, gosh.

5. “I Am ... I Said”
Brooke White’s over-vulnerability got on my nerves as the weeks wore on, but this girl can sing folk like the best of them when she’s not stopping and restarting.

Five Things I’ll Never Understand:
1. The appeal of Kristy Lee
2. “Always Be My Baby”
3. Why David Archuleta left his personality behind the stage curtains
4. The Themes
5. Why Ryan Seacrest hasn’t been replaced

And so concludes my foray into the world of American Idol. It’s made a buck or two off of me and monopolized not a few of my hours with watching (and occasionally voting). And I’ll be going to the August 4th show. Good luck to all; I have no doubt the two Davids will prosper.

... and we will return to our regularly scheduled programming following the Memorial Day weekend. Have a good one.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Losing David

[Photo courtesy of]

Last Friday, the remaining Idols were introduced to the world as standalone artists. As much as this was an awakening, a birth of the Idols from private to public, so it is for us television viewing fans. Before, they felt like our own – even if we were aware of the fact that there were others who “knew” and were “in” on the secret.

I’m not thirteen anymore, so I’ve seen many of my favorite celebrities come and go – rise to fame and lose it. It always starts out the same, and it’s always a painful process: raw talent, often combined with good-enough looks or a unique personality eventually snowballs into The Next Big Thing.

Maybe I’m not a typical fan, but this sudden thrust of my favorite entertainer is met with mixed feelings: do I want them to enjoy the fruits of their labor and run the risk of sex and drugs to go with their rock and roll, or do I want them to stay “my little secret”?

This has been the case from Day One with DArchuleta. Granted, things are a little different: he’s a contestant on one of the most-watched talent competitions on television, which would make him a celebrity regardless of his talent. I’m new to this “American Idol” sudden fame thing, but I am by no means new to the parasocial psychology behind television viewing.

The intimacy of our television sets is deceiving. Psychology has told us that we are prone to forging relationships with actors who appear regularly before us in the tube because we have, essentially, invited them into our homes. While we recognize that we share our likes with other people out there -- typically in cyberspace -- these people are nameless and faceless and do not exist in the realm of all things real.

However, it was the internet which gave us insight into our relationship with the "actors" last Friday. I don’t know how media outlets have approached past Homecomings, but this year, we were able to follow the Idols practically step-by-step for the whole of the trip home, which was exciting and completely disconcerting all at once. We were, in nearly every instance, allowed to watch as each of the Idols was made aware of how big their star has become – and concurrently, watch as they realized just as we were made to realize that they no longer belonged to themselves as much as they no longer belonged to just us. It’s a terrible Catch 22, really: the fans lost them to … the fans.

In the case of DArchuleta, this was ever the more apparent because of his seemingly inherent humility and innocence. In one day, from the 100 fans at the television station to his emotional reaction to the fans at The Gateway to, at last, the thousands upon thousands at both the Murray event and the Jazz and Lakers game, the sheer expedited growth in audience from place to place represented and reflected the compacted impact of the microcosmic “American Idol” stage. But as David broke down in tears and toughened up to the media and fame and pressure that comes with it, we felt him slip away – a little closer to the top and a little further away from us.

It was a sad moment, as this inevitable realization always is. He’s not “my” David anymore. He’s not even “our” David. He’s David Archuleta – in all its formal and impersonal glory. He belongs to the world now, and again.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

For a "stoner", he sure is classy ...

[Courtesy of YouTube user "jasoncastroonline"]

In the Entertainment Weekly Exit Interview with Jessica Shaw, Jason Castro has some good words for everyone:

For journalists:
Jason, I hear you're upset that I printed the quote you gave to me about wanting to go home. Do we need to make peace?
I'm not upset about it. It's cool. I said it.

For Simon:
Let's talk about Tuesday night. When Simon said no one should ever cover ''I Shot the Sheriff,'' did you think of reminding him that Eric Clapton did a great cover of the song?
You know, sometimes he says things that are obviously wrong. But no, I wouldn't have said that to him. My mom taught me never to make a person look wrong. I am just respectful. It's my place to sing a song and his place to judge.

For Andrew Lloyd Webber:
Did you want to kill Andrew Lloyd Webber for dissing you on stage?
No. I thought it was humorous. He was really very kind, but we're just different people. I don't think he gets me. I saw a lot of passion in him, but he couldn't pick up on my passion.

For Paula:
When Paula prejudged your second song, what was going through your head?
I didn't know what was going on. I was so confused. I was standing next to David and I wanted to turn to him and say, ''What?'' I thought the second song was good. I was just confused. It was too funny. But it was an honest mistake.

For Bob Marley:
Last night when you were singing ''I Shot the Sheriff'' again, you looked downright giddy to be singing for the last time on the Idol stage.
I was just so excited. As much as I wanted to be in it, I don't know. It was the realization of, Man, I don't have to deal with song pressure anymore. I was just so happy. That, and I love Bob Marley and reggae music.

For humankind:
You always seemed so mellow even when the judges were slamming you. How do you do that?
Well, it's just my mentality. They're just people. We're all just people.

Gentle soul. Wish you'd stayed a little longer.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Rock and Roll Does David Cook Wrong?

Thoughts on tonight's show:

DArchuleta's back in the game. Predictable yet somewhat odd song choices, but he did a phenomenal job -- best since "Imagine". And he debuted a new palm-down move -- take that nit-pickers!

David Cook seemed distracted. He could've done so much with "Hungry Like The Wolf", but it came across as just average for him. Not his best, but he shouldn't beat himself up too much about it.

Syesha is hanging by a thread. She pulled out the sexy and the tears -- all the plugs. She needs it, though neither made me like her any bit more. I thought her first song was campy, her second song was horrendous. What Kool-Aid was Simon drinking during that second song? I want some.

Jason's already bumming on the beach. First song -- weak. Not sure what he was doing with his dreadlocks, but y'know, to each his own. Never a good sign when the music is louder than your voice, though. Second song -- UH OH UH OH UH OHHHHH my mom and I yelled when he blanked on the lyrics. I'm surprised this was his first time, though. Still charming as ever, though boy looks like he needs a little sleep. I think his fan base will pull overtime tonight to make sure he makes it into the top three, no matter how much he deserves to go home and how much he probably wants to be home.

Who do I think will ultimately go home tomorrow?


P.S. How much am I a fan of David Archuleta's to know that his best friend Adam was in the audience and was wearing a pineapple t-shirt for DArchuleta's fans? Adam called himself a "fruit" (hmmm) last night in a chat and did a terrible job trying to cover it up (calling it a "Utah thing" or some such). Anyone from Utah care to explain how this is not just a derogatory term for "homosexual"? Thanks. I'll go back to being a 23-year-old when the season's over.