Elliot Yamin's natural talent for singing and an unwavering dedication to his craft earned him a spot as one of the top finalists on season five of "America Idol" (Fox, 2002- ), and helped him jumpsta...
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. There’s no mistletoe or gifts under the tree, but there is a whole lotta drama brewing on television: it’s officially Hollywood week on American Idol.
And those of us who’ve watched year-in and year-out have honed a special sixth sense: the ability to tell by a few simple Hollywood week cues which contestants are destined for crashing and burning, instead of Idol glory. These, my fellow Idolizers, are the Hollywood week warning signs.
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During Season 5, future fan favorite Elliott Yamin was grouped with three fellow soulsters. Unfortunately, one of his group-mates, Terrell Brittenum, was a bit of whiner. After trying to get his group to stay up through the wee hours of the morning practicing their routine, Elliot joined one his teammates in getting some beauty rest rather than strain themselves and risk a sleepy performance. After their number, Terrell found it appropriate to air this grievance to the judges like a kid at daycare who didn’t get to play his favorite game.
The consequence of this Hollywood week error is pretty self-explanatory: Terrell’s bad behavior signaled his recession into the waters of “mildly annoying past Idol contestants,” while Elliott’s was the first of many crowd pleasers on the Fox series.
The Lyrical Minefield
More often than not, the producers throw in one irresistible song that’s actually a bit of a musical clusterf**k. It temps ambitious ingenues to take up the task of uttering a string of impossible lyrics. And when it comes time to cut footage for the Hollywood week episodes, guess who usually winds up making the actual episode? The girl who flubbed every last word.
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Even the infinitely likable Haeley Vaughn and Matthew Lawrence fell into the trap during Season 9 when they took on “Sweet Escape” by Gwen Stefani. If your favorite contestant picks a whopper like this one, you may want to pick a new horse.
The Curse of Unfair Juxtaposition
You could be the sweetest, cutest little singer this show has ever seen, but if you find yourself in a group with the next Adam Lambert, you should go ahead and plan on finding a new dream (or at least trying again next year). The group behind the eventual Season 8 runner-up were S.O.L. as soon as Lambert let out that incomparable voice of his. Sorry, kids. Showbiz is a bit of a cruel bi***.
NEXT: The cute boy curse.
Being the Only Girl in a Group of Cute Boys
It’s sad, but true. Idol loves a cute Southern boy, and when you’re the only girl in a group of adorable guys (a.k.a. Idol voter kryptonite), your chances of arresting our attention long enough to get a vote further on down the line are pretty slim. Hey, I didn’t say these rules were fair, but poor India Morrison knows firsthand that being outshined by the Kris Allens of the world is inevitable in the Idol universe.
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You’re Too Much. Actually.
During Season 11, we met balls of energy Creighton Fraker and Reed Grimm. Both guys had more music in their bodies than bones, and when they came together to become Groovesauce during Hollywood week the performance was explosive. So why didn’t viewers plead their case when it came time to vote for the top 12? Perhaps it was a case of musical information overload. The excitement was simply too much, and our systems shut way down.
Be Gone, Bully
Much like the contestant whose holier-than-thou rehearsal practices get them the audience cold shoulder, the Hollywood week bully almost never prospers. Just ask Clint Jun Gamboa from Season 10, who was the ringleader for the exodus of sweet, innocent Jacee Badeaux. Jacee wasn’t even strong enough to make it through the competition, but Clint’s swift move of heartlessness (and silence in the face of Scotty McCreery’s public apology on stage) cost him the favor of the judges and voters.
Simply Too Good to Be True
When Kimberly Locke and Frenchie Davis sang “Band of Gold” at a borderline professional level, we knew it was only a matter of time before the other shoe (or should we say, history of nude photos scandal) dropped. Know this, Idol fans: if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.
NEXT: The dangers of a stage mom.
Bring Your Stage Mom From Hell
There are bullies, and then there are angry mobs. When Brielle von Hugel brought her mother to Hollywood week, the going got ugly. The usual stress-induced disagreements reached a whole new level when Brielle’s mom joined the fray to work against young Kyle Crews during Season 11’s Hollywood week. Keep it civil, and keep your mom away, or no amount of Otis Redding covers can save you from the voting public’s wrath.
The Bully and the Butt of the Joke: The Deadliest of Circumstances
Season 11 also delivered an important lesson: if you’re the bully and the subject of another contestant’s hilarious wit, you’re not going to last long. Just ask Richie Law, whose antics drove Heejun Han to hilarious lengths. One of these two is remembered for being Season 11’s class clown, the other is simply a visitor from “cowboy town.”
heejun by mjsbigblog
Yep, That Girl is Crazy
From constant crying to the now infamous Tatiana laugh to the time she said “I’m gonna prove it to every guy who told me I have to sleep with him to get my album out, this is for all of you,” Season 8’s Tatiana Del Toro made her mark in Hollywood week as a bit of a drama queen. Voters were not impressed and her star didn’t rise past the semi-finalist mark.
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler
[Photo Credit: Fox]
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Have you ever gotten to this point in an American Idol season, rolled your eyes and thought, “Yep, the cute southern boy is the winner!”? It came down to the final two contestants on this eleventh season of So You Think You Can Outsmart Boy-Crazy Girls and I doubt there is a single Idol fan out there who was surprised to see Phillip Phillips coquettishly lope into that confetti shower by the time the winner was announced. After all, letting Jessica Sanchez win would break the Cute Southern Boy streak (for sanity’s sake, let’s just pretend Season 9 and Lee DeWyze’s title never happened) that served up winners like Kris Allen and David Cook to the giddy masses.
So I ask: Is there something we can do about this clearly skewed voting process that sends people like Joshua Ledet home when he should be Mantasia-ing all over that finale? Where is the disconnect? Do we need an Idol Electoral College? Let's look at the facts. Here's what we know about the elected Idols: 13 of the past 22 Top 2 finalists have been from the South. Four Top 2 finalists have been from other southern locales like Florida and Arizona, and with the exception of Washingtonian Blake Lewis, the remaining contestants hailed from the Midwest. Finally, 9 out of 11 total winners hail from Southern states, which is the real nugget of information here. What we can take away from all those numbers is that if there’s one lucky charm for Idol contestants, it’s being from the South. And while it's a bit of speculation, it's likely that our main voting base hails from similar origins.
But what about all these cute boys? Where is their overabundance of luck coming from? (After all, if there's something good looking people never experience, it's luck.) It's been argued that since texting was introduced to Idol voting, teen girls have ruled the voting circuit, pushing their beloved man candy to the upper echelon of the competition. But that theory doesn’t hold much water. According to AT&T, 600 million text votes have been sent during the lifetime of the their partnership with Idol, which began in 2003, the year Ruben Studdard trumped Clay Aiken. When the series first introduced the text voting procedure, it accounted for only 7.5 million of the second season’s total votes, and oftentimes nightly voting totals fluctuate between 70 million and the record 95 million votes, meaning the season-ending votes total lands in upwards of 700 million – that’s quite the gap from the measly 7.5. Then, when texting broke 178 million per season during Season 8 – the year of Kris Allen’s surprise victory – it still only accounted for a small fraction of the total votes. Myth of the Tweeny Texter Tyrants: Busted!
So where is the trend coming from if not thanks to squealing, bright-eyed teens? The answer likely lies with their mothers. In its 11 seasons, Idol’s median viewership has aged 14 years, from 34 to 48 and while it hasn’t lost its teens altogether, is has lost its formerly strong grip on them. In fact, that would explain why in recent seasons, Idol producers have scrambled to find ways to bring the young audience back: Introducing MySpace auditions, lowering the minimum age for contestants to 15, and most recently adding the ability to vote on Facebook. Yet, the median age is still on rise and we’re poised to see another cute southern young man take the title while talented folks like Skylar Laine and Joshua Ledet join the list of unappreciated Idol contestants like past cast-offs Blake Lewis, Haley Reinhart, and Elliott Yamin, all of whom are missing check marks in either the “cute,” “boy,” or “Southern” check boxes.
This comes as no disrespect to the titlist Phillip Phillips, who is talented and greatly worthy of his praises; I’m simply tired of being able to call the competition with less thought than Steven Tyler puts into his "isms and wasms" descriptions. I want to be excited and feverish heading into the finale, not reclined and waiting for the inevitable. Remember when Taylor Hicks bested long-legged beauty Katharine McPhee for the title and the world’s collective jaw hit the ground? Remember that Jordin Sparks was the last girl to win the show and that was all the way back in Season 6? Remember how we sighed because so many moms loved Scotty McCreery and no other contestant stood a chance? Remember last Wednesday, when you thought to yourself that Jessica Sanchez deserves to win, but you know she won’t? In the same way that the judges’ save robs the competition of its ability to truly shock us, so does this voting strong hold.
Still, what can we do? Idol doesn’t collect data on its voters and its process allows for multiple votes – just ask Arkansas, who reportedly turned into 34 million votes from a state of 2.8 million people to crown Kris Allen Season 8’s Idol – so perhaps it’s time for a new order. Either limit voters to one vote a piece (or perhaps three for voters wily enough to know they can vote once by text, once by phone, and once by web) or start up some sort of American Idol Electoral College.That way, we aren’t subjected to the will of the mega voters as we watch our perfectly reasonable single votes crushed under their weight of the Cute Boy Army, whatever age and gender they may actually be.
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler.
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Elliot Yamin's natural talent for singing and an unwavering dedication to his craft earned him a spot as one of the top finalists on season five of "America Idol" (Fox, 2002- ), and helped him jumpstart a successful musical career. Efraym Elliot Yamin was born on July 20, 1978 in Los Angeles, and spent part of his childhood in Richmond, VA. Having a mother who was a professional singer helped the future star develop an interest in performing and by age five, he started listening to various musical genres. As a child, Yamin had severe allergies to pollen and grass, and suffered from an ear infection that led him to become 90 percent deaf in his right ear. His medical problems did not end there; when he was 17, he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. But in spite of his illness, Yamin kept pursuing his music dreams by working as a DJ, singing in a local jazz/funk band, and entering karaoke contests. In the fall of 2005, with the encouragement of his friends, Yamin auditioned for season five of "American Idol," singing Leon Russell's "A Song for You" (1970), and nabbed a spot in the semi-finals round held in Hollywood.
Yamin quickly made an impression on the viewers and judges with his emotionally charged renditions of classics such as Stevie Wonder's "If You Really Love Me" (1971) and Queen's "Somebody to Love" (1976), as well as his modern take on the hit single "I Don't Want to Be" (2003) by Gavin DeGraw. But in spite of his powerful vocals and easygoing personality, Yamin only finished third in the competition. After going on a cross-country trek with his fellow season finalists on the "American Idols LIVE! Tour" in 2006, Yamin underwent a highly publicized dental procedure to fix his cross bite. In 2007, he released his self-titled debut album featuring the hit singles "Movin' On" and "Wait for You." The album debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart and reportedly sold 90,000 copies in its first week. Following his album's launch, Yamin performed across Asia and also entertained troops overseas as a member of a USO/Armed Forces Entertainment tour in 2008. The following year, he released his second album, Fight for Love.