His Name Is Elliott Yamin

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. :(


  1. Hmm.. well, on a lighter note. Lordi have won Eurovision (buy a country mile).

    See, fat or nerdy, these things don’t matter. On the day of rockoning, on the verge of arockalypse, it’s all about the lyrics.

  2. Thank you, Michelle! You’ve captured everything that I feel … So hopelessly enamoured with every bit of Elliot am I that I want to cook for his mother.

  3. Hmm. It was a rather close fight though, wasn’t it, at 33-odd percent for all of them. For what it’s worth, none of the good ones win. I liked Paris the most, and that black girl with the long hair and nice smile whose name I swore I’d remember till my dying day because she was so damned good.

  4. Shao: Sigh, glad there’s actually someone I know personally (as opposed to lots of strangers in Internet forums) who feels the same way. Elliott’s mom is the most lovable Idol parent ever – did you notice her dancing with Taylor during his Jailhouse Rock performance?

    Victoria: I didn’t watch seasons 1 or 2 of American Idol, but I do think that the good ones won for the original Pop Idol (Will Young) and AI season 3 (Fantasia). Fantasia’s still my top Idol ever, though Elliott’s the one I fancy to bits.

    I think Paris was awesome too, but her song and style choices didn’t always work for her. I’d single out The Way We Were as a good example of this – she sang it extremely well, but it was difficult to connect with a 17 year old styled like a 40 year old singing a song about “misty watercoloured memories” of an old love. I think stuff like this sometimes made her seem like “just another talent show contestant” rather than someone that people wanted to root for in their gut.

    By the other girl you referred to, do you mean Lisa Turner?

  5. I totally totally love Elliott too. Until now, I was the only one I knew who thought Elliott was fantabulous to the maxxest. I kinda persuaded my mum, who originally liked Paris, to go for him too, but that doesn’t count, since she like someone else first. But yeah, after Moody’s Mood for Love, I became an uber super ultra all the way Elliott fan. I almost cried when he left. :(

  6. Oh, that’s right — Lisa Turner! Thanks. I guess it’s all down to how fickle the public is and fleeting fancy. Obviously, you’re way more into Elliott than I was Lisa, but after all the weeks that’ve gone by, maybe the bulk of his voters took a little break for a week and *bam*, now you’ve got old-man and hollywood-smile-barbie.

    Make that fat barbie. Okay, I have no place commenting on how fat other people may be.

    I was going to put it down to looks, that Elliott doesn’t look good enough to be an “idol”, but erk, what am I saying, with Taylor Hicks still around?

  7. Michelle: Yes, I saw her dancing! Totally coolest idol parent ever, cooler than Katherine’s father who, yeah, is touching-teary all right. But she sure knows how to have fun. :) And have a cool son of course.

    And I don’t know why, despite all that is said about Elliot being not dashing enough (nor its extreme), the more I look at it, he’s got the rugged, manly looks none of them do. Chris just went off on me after doning the eyeliner, I’m sorry.

  8. Watching Shayne Ward’s Over the Rainbow killed American Idol for me because no one seemed as talented in comparison.

    I do like Taylor because he’s different and always seems to be having fun on stage. Elliot’s a cutie but he has his awkward moments (which is what makes him a cutie) and Katherine’s just try-to-hard annoying. I never saw why ppl were drooling over Chris because he sounded just like any other rock singer. And we all cannot forget Paris’ audition, can we?? Her later performances never beat her acapella.

    And I think her name was Lisa Tucker, wasn’t it? She blew me away with that one performance “I am changing”…but after that, she seemed to lose her passion to win….

    Go watch Shayne.

  9. He is???

    Ah I’m not surprised.

    When I first saw the video, I didn’t know the concept of X-factor (the judges choose their winner) so I was wondering why that old judge was gushing over Shayne so much and having a romantic dinner with him. I thought they were lovers. And thought, wow! the British have really opened up!

  10. Elaine: I can’t think of a song I’ve ever heard on Idol that was more difficult to sing and more fraught with pitfalls than Moody’s Mood For Love. Before he sang it, I was still mostly a Taylor fan and hadn’t really noticed Elliott yet. So I thought he must be insane to take such a risk when he hadn’t even built up a fanbase yet to cushion him if he screwed up. And then he sang it, and I decided that he was amazing and had balls of steel, and from then on Taylor started to fade into the background for me. To me, Moody’s Mood For Love was THE performance of the season.

    Victoria: I don’t think Elliott’s voters took a break the week he was eliminated, because people always knew he was vulnerable and wouldn’t have let their guard down. I think it’s simply that he still didn’t have enough fans, or that his fans weren’t the “power voting” kind. I, of course, would have voted like a crazy bitch the whole time, but other people have lives.

    Shao: Chris just never did it for me, with or without eyeliner. As the folks at Television Without Pity so hilariously and precisely observed, he’s a penis with ears. Elliott, on the other hand, just got hotter and hotter. I should admit that my slight bias towards men with facial hair is probably at work here though. :)

    Kelly: Dammit, Youtube was acting up last night and I couldn’t play the Shayne video. Will try again tonight. (Can’t play it at work.) The wining, dining and gushing doesn’t seem particularly “open” for the British, I should say. After all, Queer As Folk was on mainstream British TV long before America copied it.

  11. Aww! Check out Elliott and Paris at the finals, making it obvious who they support to win. Can’t argue with them either, Katherine on My Destiny was one of the most hysterically awful performances I’ve ever seen on American Idol.

  12. Kelly: I was all ready to be blown away by Shayne Ward, but I found to my surprise that I wasn’t. He certainly has a good voice but I didn’t particularly like his interpretation of the song or feel much emotional connection with the performance. I found it too showboaty, and as much as I dislike Kat, I still think her interpretation was better.

    I even went looking for something else by Shayne to see if I’d like that better, and watched him do I Believe In A Thing Called Love. Same problem – good voice, but the performance doesn’t hold my attention.

    Even if I judge based on pure singing prowess, Elliott’s Moody’s Mood For Love still impresses me more, and if you lump performance in as well, then Fantasia’s Summertime still massacres any talent show performance I’ve ever seen. Pity. I really *wanted* to say a Brit was better than all the Americans, but can’t in this case.

  13. Funny, I say the same of Elliot, because even the girls at work are raving about him, but I just haven’t found that wow! connection from him (even though he’s still seems such a cutie). And I thought Kat’s Rainbow was just horrid (she just annoys me all over).

    All perception!

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  16. Kelly: To a certain extent Kat’s Rainbow and Shayne’s Rainbow both have the same problem for me – neither give me the impression that the singer is intimately connected to the music, only to the performing of it. And they both perform like people who have been to performing school.

    Elliott was definitely not quite as slick at performing as most other talent show contestants are, but I always felt he had a personal connection and love for the music he was singing, and that really endeared him to a music geek like me. All the same, I wouldn’t resent him being beaten by someone like Shayne Ward – Shayne is pretty much the obvious prototype of what both the producers and public want from a competition like Idol and what will easily succeed in the pop industry thereafter, and at least he sings well enough to back up his pretty face. It’s just that I personally prefer people who use their great voices more soulfully.

    (Oh and of course, no one on that whole damn AI finale could hold a candle to Prince at everything I just talked about!)

  17. Altho’ the other supposedly “professional” performers totally SUCKED. Did you see Toni Braxton…or shall I say Tranni Braxton?? I thought she was a dyke…now she’s a dyke turned trannie! And Mary J Blige was just awful as well.

    Yeah, there are some performers like Prince (or MJ for that matter) that are soooo bloody natural on stage and there are so many people struggling to be a natural on stage (most of the AI contestants), that makes you appreciate how bloody talented people like Prince and MJ are. *sigh*

  18. The suckage of the “professionals” truly elevated the entertainment value of the results show though. Katherine’s terrified face at the quivering obesity of Meatloaf! Taylor’s “WTF???!!” face as Toni Braxton tried to grope him while singing about poverty and suffering! O the joy!

    Mary J’s suckage was less funny to me because her screaming was drowning out Elliott’s lovely voice, but for what it’s worth the duet is apparently meant to be like that, because that’s how she sings it with Bono too. Her fugly eyewear amused me though, it was like the poster child for my long-held conviction that oversized sunglasses are just FUGLY.

    OH OH and Kelly, given your feelings about Katherine you’ll love this hilarious account of her official viewing “party”. It was really, uh, wild. (Beware of workplace LOLing.)

  19. Hi, glad to find a website that’s for Elliot, I’m leaving my scent everywhere I can, LOL, I’m afraid AI will be the last time I get to hear him sing again. Did anyone hear him sing A House is not a Home in the finale? I cried, it was the best rendition I’ve ever heard. I just bought a compilation of all Elliots Idol songs, just Elliots, on ebay, just in case. I live in the midwest and I couldn’t get in to vote, none of us could, my daughters live in NY and they couldn’t get in to vote either, the South had no problems though and they voted a hundred times each, I wouldn’t have the patience to do that every week. I hope I can stop in here once in awhile, is that OK with you? Be back soon.


  20. Hi Madeleine, it’s nice to hear from another Elliott fan. A House Is Not A Home was wonderfully done and I only wish I’d got the chance to hear him sing a longer version of it. I’m afraid I don’t regularly write here about Elliott (because I already spend so much time reading his fan forums that I have no time left to blog!) but I hope you at least enjoyed this post. :)

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