On Idol, when have you "arrived"?
I like surprises. Aside from Sanjaya, this year hasn't had very many -- although, he's probably enough surprise for an entire season. Melinda, Simon's longtime favorite and subsequently everyone else's, said goodbye to all our company. M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E.
(You won't get that if you weren't forced to watch everything involving Annette Funicello as a kid. My mom knew how to punish us when she was mad.)
And now without the protection of success, the media wolves are already laying into whatever they can get. Some are taking this opportunity to assuage their own egos by claiming that they weren't surprised at all.
They claim Melinda's age, look and ancient song choice was a dead giveaway for her departure. Others say she peaked early and didn't have anywhere to build. Fickle! Et tu Brute?
Say what you will. It was a surprise. You all know at one time or another you were talking to some other Idol watcher when no one else was looking and were like, "Oh yeah, that Melinda Doolittle sure can sing. She'll be in the finals for sure, don't 'cha know." But, I don't think the surprise is as important as whether or not making it in the top three is enough to expect to have, as Paula says, "arrived."
On a show like Idol, I always wonder at what point the contestant becomes a star. Sure, once you're on TV for a while you get a complimentary Z-list celebrity pass. With a show like Idol maybe "X" or "Y". But, when do you become a star? I think it's this episode. I mean, screaming fans and flocks of girls are enough to convince me. Also, I think having your own holiday counts.
While on my way home from a recording session in Atlanta yesterday morning, I was randomly on the same flight with Stephanie Edwards and Phil Stacey. They were headed to L.A. to prep for the finale next week. By the way, anything negative I said about Phil was wrong. He's a real stand-up guy -- not creepy at all. He deserves an apology. Sorry Phil.
Anyway, he said something pretty interesting during the course of our conversation. Talking about the show production, I said back on season three it was "ghetto Idol" and he responded "Yeah, no offense, but we do have much better hook-ups." Then he told me about some private party they all went to at Rupert Murdoch's house.
Ya know, I'm almost convinced that being in the top three nowadays might be enough to say, "I've arrived." Almost. At the end of the day, though, Melinda is a massively popular TV star, and that ship just sailed. So, until she has a CD and a few Grammys under her belt, there won't be any resting on laurels.
Jon Peter Lewis was a finalist on the third season of "American Idol." His newly released debut album, "Stories From Hollywood," is available everywhere online and can also be downloaded at americanidol.com. Visit Jon's Web site for more.