February 16, 2008 10:55 AM by Jennifer_Brown
We haven’t even gotten to the voting yet andalready American Idol has served up itsfirst controversy. As Reality TV Magazine reported, the decision to cut Josiah Leming has had some American Idol fans in an uproar. Josiah, the young man who lives in his car, captured the hearts of many fans with his openness, his belief in his dream, and his willingness to go for outside-the-box audition songs, such as his original song “To Run” and Mika’s “Grace Kelly.” Many fans have sounded off on the subject, posting and pleading around the Internet. Now it’s our turn.
Joe & Jen, on American Idol’s decision to cut Josiah Leming:
American Idol is not just about finding the best singer. It never has been, and it never should be. Sometimes a great singer can flop if he or she lacks stage presence, originality, etc. While Josiah Leming might not have been the best singer on American Idol 7 so far, he was perhaps the most unique and original singer. The kid had one bad performance at the end, but his original audition and first performance in Hollywood were standout, memorable performances.
Simon Cowell is always complaining about forgettable, karaoke-type performances, and Simon said Josiah’s performance was the one he was going to remember from the first round of the Hollywood week auditions. How do the judges cut one of the most memorable contestants on the season so far?
Isn’t part of Idol about making great television? Why not put him through to the top twenty-four and let America decide?
While the judges did do a better job overall in selecting a talented top twenty-four this year, there seem to be at least a couple Carrie Underwood and Chris Daughtry sound-a-like’s among the semifinalists. Instead of trying to find the next Carrie Underwood or Chris Daughtry, I would rather see the judges looking for the first Josiah Leming.
Okay, Josiah fans, get out your rotten tomatoes, because youaren’t going tolike what I’ve got to say.
Don’t get me wrong — I love sweet-faced, nice boys with a dream just as much as the next guy. Heck, the mom in me so wanted to give the kid a lollipop and pinch his freckled cheeks till the tears went away. I was hoping Simonwould at the very least buy the kid a new car (maybe a van, even).
But let’s be honest here. American Idol has taken a lot of heat for not being great at predicting exactly who will be a hit. Taylor Hicks is a great example of what happens when America goes for the “nice guy” vote (by the way, I voted for Taylor. I even bought his CD. I’m not knocking the guy. But…well, let’s just say I’m the only person I know who has his CD).
Seems we, as fans, have a double standard when it comes to AI: we condemn them for sending home less-talented-but-different artists, yet we condemn them for not turning out hit artists when the less-talented-but-different fail to turn out mega-careers.
So American Idol had to make the tough decision here — good TV or good talent. Josiah made great TV. He’s cute. Wide-eyed and dreamy. And he cries. But was he good talent? Yes, but not, I don’t think, compared to the other 24who went through. It’s almost more humane to let him go now than put him through and watch Simonhave a go at tearing him apart week after week.
We love toroot foran underdog and Josiah would’ve gone very, very far had he made the top 24 (heck, he may have even gone all the way). Strange British accent and unique song-choices aside, he would get the votes, just as Sanjaya did.
Problem is, we don’t buy the underdogs’ CDs. American Idol needs another Carrie Underwood to keep the critics at bay. Josiah just wasn’t it. My prediction — he’ll come back, and the next time he’ll have the pipes to backup his engaging quirky style.
American Idol airs Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 8:00 PM (ET) on FOX.
All photos courtesy Reality TV Magazine.