He wasn’t my favourite from the start, but how could he have been?
Until the top 24, the only real exposure he got was as a reluctant accessory to one of the Brittenum twins’ many debacles. Katherine got attention for having a mother who was a voice teacher. Ayla got attention for having a father who was a senator. Paris got attention for having a grandmother who was a famous singer (but, to be fair, also for the most spinetinglingly awesome audition I’ve ever seen on the show). Kellie got attention for having a father in jail and, later on, for defying every stereotype anyone had ever had about dumb rednecks by being even dumber than imaginable. But Elliott Yamin, diabetic and 90% deaf in one ear, apparently still wasn’t interesting enough to the American Idol producers to warrant any real exposure – at least, not until the Top 3 results show, when it was already too late.
And putting yourself into their shallow little heads, it was totally understandable. He’s got bad teeth, no titties, and is a nice, genuine guy, and of course none of that makes for good TV. Despite his lack of traditional good looks, he’s neither repulsively obese enough (Ruben Studdard) nor nerdy enough (Clay Aiken/Kevin Covais) to gain instant underdog sympathy – in fact, Taylor benefited much more from this right from the start, due to the grey hair and initial dismissal by Simon. Also, no all-consuming narcissism (Brenna). Also, no indication of serial killer tendencies (Scott Savol). What’s a nice guy with none of these trainwreck qualities got to do to get some attention?
Elliott’s answer to the question: Sing really really well all the time, including pulling off multiple fiendishly difficult songs with jaw-dropping ease. Sing songs you love, even if they’re not famous crowd-pleasers and the producers advise you against singing them. And do it all with warmth in your eyes, graciousness and humility, and a vocal tone that made me and many other women want to charge on stage and ravish him.
Well, his strategy obviously didn’t succeed in getting enough of America’s attention, but he certainly got mine.
I was bug-eyed, speechless and embarrassingly in the mood for love after Moody’s Mood For Love. Ready to enrol in teacher training college after Teach Me Tonight. Longing to go clubbing with him and dance like goofs after I Don’t Wanna Be. Wondering what it must be like for his girlfriend to watch her man, all dressed up and looking soooo hot, singing A Song For You to millions, and know she can get a private performance any time she wants. Exquisitely troubled after Trouble. And after I Believe It To My Soul? To put it very simply, a believer – that whether Elliott gets a record deal or not, sells millions of albums or not, he will be fine.
It takes a remarkable ability to keep things in perspective to pick a risky song like that, unfamiliar to many (myself included), knowing full well that it could seal your fate unfavourably in the competition but go for broke anyway because you love it and you know you’ll rock it. It was a great last song to be remembered by.
Please don’t disappear into obscurity, Elliott. I can’t bear the thought of never hearing you sing again. :(