By Justin Guarini
Fancast American Idol Correspondent
Host of Reality Chat: Idol Wrap and Idol Tonight,
TV Guide Network
There are times when I find myself plagued by the most desperate feelings of loneliness and unworthiness. When I sit in my lavish apartment — lavish compared to the way most of the world lives — and have no clue what to do next. Oh, there are things to be done: meetings to take, songs to be finished, taxes to be completed, scripts to memorize, a car to be sold, a new car to be bought, two television shows to pitch, an endless stream of emails to write, interviews to be prepared for, blogs to write, trips to plan, friends to call, family to see, rooms to clean, clothes to give away, checks to deposit, checks to write, a new album to finally put out, show venues to book, a guitar to become more proficient at.…and they all seem to swirl around me at these times like my own personal Sirocco. It would be rather comic, or perhaps tragic, to see the trials and tribulations that make a daily habit of banging around in our heads, released to swirl about us in plain view wherever we went. Many of the most seemingly confident people we know would probably never leave their house. When I’m caught in such a gale, I can’t seem to see anything and so I just go to sleep, regardless of the hour.
Inaction leading to more inaction…or so one would think.
I sometimes muse to myself as I’m falling asleep, that if I had an assistant, who fed me when I should eat, told me where I needed to be, when I needed to be available for interviews, handled the mundane tasks of putting my schedule together, reminded me that actually going to the gym I pay for each month is the sensible way to get in shape, wrote the checks out for me that cover my bills, fielded the calls that come in at a fever pace every day, gave me a harsh stare when I was thinking about spending too much on some unnecessary item, and generally lifted the burden of day-to-day life off of me…that I’d be a dynamo. My brain-space would be free to accomplish all that I’ve ever wanted, songs would pour out of me, and I’d finally be the force-to-be-reckoned-with that I’ve always wanted to be. Time would be my ally, not the overt counter-strike force that constantly ambushes even my best-laid plans. The Sirocco would gale about someone else’s head, but they’d be wearing protective clothing and a mask much like a Fireman’s…
I finally fall asleep…
When I awake after an hour or so of sleep, I see the world with fresh perspective. Almost as though I’ve hit the reset button on my internal compass. The storm, as so many do through the night, abates and I am left with a field of debris to look upon inside my mind. Perhaps ‘debris’ is not the right word to use here due to its inherently negative connotation, but it feels right to me, and I don’t mind debris in general. I like it in fact… much to the chagrin of my Mother who would always tell me I was ridiculous, when as a child I would argue that I always knew where my clothes were…especially when they littered my floor and hung from my Lamborghini and Michael Jordan posters. As an adult, I can see her logic and do clean up after myself, but contrary to convention I like to make debris out of my internal life…then clean it up. I find that it helps me to see some of the things I’ve forgotten about…like something you find in the back of a drawer you never go into…then wonder how you’ve ever lived without it.
As I sit alone and sift through myself, I always come back to the realization that my life is charmed. For nothing else than that I’m actually living it. Accolades aside…I just am. I am, and within the space that my 6’, 155lb, body, mind, spirit, and hair take up every day…there lies pure potentiality. For as wealthy as I am, especially by world standards, and as much as I get paid to do seemingly so little…I still live a somewhat normal life, with bills, tribulations, emails, loneliness, boredom, perhaps two or three good friends here in LA- perhaps only one real friend in my life in general- and the daily habits of the charmed- especially by world standards- American life. This is where all my inspiration comes from, and I am better for it, for the time being. Without the laundry list of the afore-mentioned, I would have nowhere to draw my life’s blood from. I am proud to be an artist, a thinker, and a lover of life…especially when I think I hate life, because the bitter taste of apathy always leads me to commune with a renaissance that grows sweeter upon each encounter.
This is all after the hurricane that is American Idol blew through my life and much like the proverbial character played by another ‘JG’ lifted me up into the sky and landed me thousands of miles away from home. Alone. Plenty of people were around, sure, but I was indeed alone. Bound that way mostly by habit, and also by choice. It was and is safer that way; especially in Los Angeles.
As I sit and watch the kids (and I say that because most of them are just babies learning how to walk in this industry) each week, I wonder how they will learn and grow from this once-in-a-lifetime experience. An experience that will bear down on some of them like an out of control freight train, shattering their egos, flattening their perception of the world, and leaving them torn from figurative limb to figurative limb. Yes, a few will run alongside the train, pumping their legs for all life and the pursuit of happiness is worth, leaping and latching onto the screaming engine just as Kelly and I did. They will take the ride of their lives, wind whistling through their hair, children running and waiving at them with glee as the locomotive rushes through every city, town, and borough. Of course, like all their predecessors, they will eventually be asked to go back and sit in one of the aft cars, some asked to sit further back on the wooden benches, others on the plush and private seats. Still others will just jump off the moving train, much like I did. Tuck and roll. Lost to time and the haze of coal smoke. I was fortunate to have been on that first impactful season…so when I was ready it was relatively easy gather myself, refresh and with eager patience catch up to the caboose, making my way as far forward as allowed. Fortune has smiled upon me, and many others that have earned themselves a membership in this most exclusive of television establishments. Life is good, and I am glad to be reminded of it.
Such is a very brief overview of my life and times, according to Idol.
The Top 10: The year they were born…
A big song indeed…I’ve been waiting to see RM go back to her big-voice roots. Unfortunately, the song was too big and too high for her. She yelled through most of it, and the performance was a little flat. Even though she was under the weather…the song was not the best choice. Thankfully the judges gave her a lot of slack for it. Especially Simon. I was very surprised to see that RM made it through the song. Good for her, but sickness is not an option at this point. This is made all the more apparent by the poor performance she gave last week. I hope that she manages to get back on the horse, or else she’ll go inside 2 weeks…just my guess though.
Goofy to the last in every interview. Fun to watch him be a goober though.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard the Sting song that he sang, but I totally dig it. It was a different spin for the pop-driven Idol. I think it’s probably his best performance to date for me. Jason is admittedly a guitarist before a singer, and I was disappointed to hear the judges ding him up a little bit. I’m glad that Jason stuck to his roots…and I swear that he’s naturally stoned.
“If I was Your Woman”
She sounded great, and almost pitch-perfect. Her voice sounded strong and, I finally remember (along with last weeks performance) why she’s here! It was a master-class in song interpretation, because she didn’t need to move on the stage at all. She sold the song by singing her heart out. Great job. I agree with Paula when she said we finally have another dark-horse. I think my prediction of a few weeks till mayhem is coming true.
In my estimation we now have 6 solid-solid singers in the competition.
The rest have to prove themselves to me (not that I or my approval matter, all that much, just a statement)
“For Just One Night”
I like C, but I think that he was not in the greatest contact with this song. He said that he spoke to Byrd, Ricky, and Mike about doing this song…and I think that the song was better for them than for C. Randy hit the nail an the head when he said that the arrangement was circa the late 80’s. A great sound, but so dated, especially for a 22 year –old. He seems to be better when he swings with the country energy. It would seem natural for him to go the R&B route, because he’s got a smoky voice and he’s an African-American…but I just don’t think he’s got the necessary chops (yet) for sustained ballad note-work that R&B requires. Think of how much more we like him with the high-energy clipped notes that we hear when he goes Country-Soul. Might be a tough week for him.
“Every Breath You Take”
After a little falter at the beginning, one that I can easily forgive- knowing what its like to be under the gun on live TV- she settles into a standard piano version of the song. I think she looks beautiful, but never settled vocally into the song. I’m no one to talk, cause I look down when playing too, but on a medium like TV I would have liked to seen her playing to us more. The arrangement was a little flat…but that’s due to the fact that she’s a good piano player not a master. It was a little sleepy, but Brooke has no problems in my book.
My allegiance to Kristy is slipping. I’m starting to feel like an idol floozy. Will I create some sort of faux idol love triangle in my head…I think, yes. Wow. I’m one lucky man, but only in my head.
“We Will Rock You/ We Are The Champions”
I love to perform and am no slouch on stage when I get going, but even I am afraid of touching a Queen song. Freddy Mercury was dynamite on the stage. I must admit that I didn’t like the WWRY portion of the song, it felt a little blah to me. When he went to the WATC, I thought he was fantastic. It’s about time Michael…good on you. The lights, the energy, and the voice were spot on. The competition is starting to really heat up.
“Total Eclipse Of The Heart”
Carly totally eclipses most of the other people that have ever been on Idol…each week. My only criticism of this week, is the fact that we’ve seen this from her. I hope that she isn’t plateauing (not a real word, but you get my drift). She continues to yell to get some of the higher notes out and it’s starting to show. I love Carly’s whole thing…the look, the accent, the amazing voice, but unless she can shake us up a little. She just might move herself out of the running for the top spots. Randy told it like it was about the end run…tried too hard and yelled. Again, I think that she’s a-ok for next week and I hope that she comes back and gives up some classic Carly.
“You’re The Voice”
Again the arrangement was a little too old for him. It felt like an arrangement from a Disney film circa ’88. He can sing no doubt and has some amazing vocal control, but this was not the best performance for me. Everyone else loved it, but I was not moved by it. There was a disconnect. I write my opinions before the judges so I won’t be too biased by them and I have to say that Simon made me laugh when he said what he said because it was totally in line with my Disney comment. He’s fine, of course, but might want to shine up his singin’ shoes for next week.
“God Bless The USA”
A good, albeit very safe pick for AMERICAN Idol. Some flat notes, but I standard County Fair (I’ve performed at a lot of them, so I should know ?) performance. I have nothing either way for it. She looked great. I was happy to see that Simon was very complementary. Watch her go home…that will be the rub. I hope it doesn’t happen, especially after a good performance, but America can be fickle and there are a lot of people gunning for Kristy.
I think that although he’s standing on the shoulders of other musical geniuses arrangements, he’s the real deal. A rocker unlike any other we’ve seen on the show. He can sing his rump off, and my girlfriend has an official crush on him. So I guess she’s even. Of course she doesn’t know about my budding interest in Brooke….mwahahaha!
David is the male dark-horse that is quickly making a move into the light. He’s even got my girlfriend (who is NOT an idol watcher at all) all goofy. If he wasn’t so darn good I’d send a crack squad of Ninjas after him…I’ve traveled through Japan a lot. I guess all is fair in love and war, so no harm no foul. He’s got my girl and my co-host Kim, I got Brooke and Kristy. Hmm…I think he’s got the better deal.
I’m calling the Ninjas.
homepage photo credit: Matt Beard