Wednesday, May 17, 2006

After Midnight

Tonight, the clock struck midnight and our sweet-singing, dark horse, Cinderella Elliott Yamin left American Idol.

I'm sad to see him leave for a plethora of reasons, but mostly because I'll miss hearing him sing every week. But that's the way show works. Someone has to go. A lot of contestants have hoped to use the program as a springboard into careers in the entertainment field. A select few have gained post-show fame, but the past five seasons are littered with people who've mostly faded from our collective consciousness.

For the fame-whores of the series, being on the show was the apex of their entertainment career, and struggle as they might, it's highly unlikely they're ever going to achieve the rollicking success they desire. And for others, the true performers of the series, they'll never attract such a huge and immediate audience again.

The AI contract is a killer, and that's part of what keeps so many of the contestants from taking off. The AI and 19E producers won't allow anyone to upstage the winner (and the runner-up) by releasing anything before the show can siphon off the majority of the commercial revenue. Meanwhile, we as a nation have a short attention span and once 15 minutes runs out on someone, it's a bitch of a marketing battle to drag them back into the spotlight, because we're already focused on the next batch of people we can consume.

However, part of the reason I loved Elliott is that this never seemed to be about fame for him. Even performing was slightly secondary to what he was there for: Singing. Out of all five seasons, he's the most pure singer the show's ever seen. I'm sure there'll be plenty of articles written tonight/tomorrow that say that's what led to his eventual demise -- that he had the voice, but ultimately not the entire package as a performer.

But that's also why I have zero worries about Elliott's future. He'll do the tour this summer and then have to ride out his AI contract until he's free to pursue other options. I don't know if fame and fortune will be calling him, but from this point on, I'm pretty sure that singing will be part of who he is. He should have a plethora of palatable options. Smaller labels like Blue Note could do wonders for him and produce an album that'd be not only a commercial success, but also an artistic one. He could so easily slip into the now-hip and trendy (and lucrative) Vegas club and lounge scene and enjoy singing in that sort of more intimate setting.

Because that is the kind of voice he has -- intimate. It's soulful and strong, and he makes surprising and delightful choices within all the material he picks. But the texture in his voice makes it moody and sexy, and the tone and timbre has a warmth that makes it personal.

I've already written in embarrassing detail what's so hot about Elliott, and what's so cool about him. It's fun to root for a dark horse, and it's even more fun when Cinderella has enough talent to blow all other contenders off the stage. As for Elliott as a person, he was so classy on the show that it intensified all those desires to see him succeed. He came off as a mother-loving, happy-go-lucky, grateful, humble and endearing guy instead of one of the stock characters we've become accustomed to. Talented, nice, unaffected. Those are the kind of people I can't help but root for to succeed.

We have fucked up ideas about success in this country. If you're not a superstar, you suck. But most of us aren't superstars. Worse, most of us spend our lives wallowing in crappy jobs, making just enough money to get by and so we can buy some useless shit while we count the minutes until we can punch out and get on to a more bearable part of our day. But even those tolerable and sometimes enjoyable parts are rarely spent doing what we love, or have a passion for.

Cinderella wanted an escape from her crappy life where she was unappreciated and worked to death. What she got was a rollicking party where she dressed in some shoes that'd make Manolo blush, and everyone made a fuss over her. But when the clock struck twelve, she was sent back home like an utter mess. But the best part of the story wasn't the party. The best part was that she wasn't completely forgotten. The next day, that fabulous shoe led her prince back to her, and her dream came true.

Elliott's voice isn't going to vanish just because his time ran out. Maybe there'll be outrageous money and adulation around the corner. But if not, I have a sneaking suspicion that he's still going to fulfill his greatest dream. All the other performers this year can shake and dance and bedazzle as they like, and I wish them all the best. But singing, pure singing, that's the glass slipper of American Idol that only Elliott Yamin can claim. I think deep down, if he's half as grounded as he seems, Elliott would be really happy if he could spend his life as a professional singer. With that as a benchmark, I'm pretty sure that his ever-after has just begun.

It may be midnight, but the best part of the story is what happens the next day. Sing on, CinderElliott. Plenty of us will still be here to listen. Sing on.

*

I'll do a full recap of tonight's results show tomorrow sometime. But I figured since Elliott showed so much grace tonight that I'd try to switch it up and show a little class and grace myself. Don't worry. It won't last. Classy isn't exactly my glass slipper. The mocking shall continue.

33 comments:

Terrie said...

Beautifully said.

Elliott brings the best out in his fans, I have found. I just wish I could give him a hug right now and tomorrow and next Tuesday, etc.

I think he is free of the AI clutches three months after the show ends - just long enough for the tour, where he will make more money than he ever has.

Then onward and upward.

cam said...

Great post. I haven't watched the results show 'cause we don't have it here yet so I went directly to the forums. I'm seriously... agh, my heart is broken. It wasn't like this when I had my favorites in the past. Sure, I felt bad but not like this. Oh, E.

I hope he makes more good music after riding out his contract. But to be honest, I'm not really that optimistic of AI 3rd placers. I hope some record execs noticed him.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your thoughts, so well expressed.
I have enjoyed your blog.

Jim said...

i wasn't nearly as upset as i thought i would be. they gave him a proper send off at least. the whole show seemed to be geared towards having a classy exit for yamin. i'm glad for that at least.

SusanD said...

Jimi -- right on. They didn't make him a bitch like they did to Chris. It's obvious they all really like him -- and his mom!

Cam-- his cousin is a bigshot music producer. Nepotism has its advantages.

Anon -- thanks :)

Terrie-- man, I hope you're right about the contract, that'd be great for him.

steph said...

i couldn't watch the show, so i'll be waiting for your recap! i love the detail you put into it!!!

Anonymous said...

Susan,

Thank you. You really expressed in a heartfelt way, what a lot of E fans are feeling tonight. I think his dream was our dream. When he said "I was lost" and he was crying I lost it. Yeah I lost it, and sobbed like a baby over a reality TV show. So many of us are lost but do nothing about it. This guy had the balls to go after his dream, knowing the deck was already stacked against him. I know he has found what he should do for the rest of his life.

Ranad

P.S. Does anyone need a gently used GO PHONE "Moody's Mood for Love" ring tone and all.

SusanD said...

Ranad -- exactly. I've known a lot of lost souls. And he was truly a lost soul. But never, ever before, have I seen one actually get "found". He did. It's really quite profound, especially for a cheezy show.

Mei said...

Wonderful post. And a great tribute to Elliott. You're right, the best part is yet to come.

laura petrie said...

Brava, my dear DiPlacido. Beautifully expressed. I'll buy the first round of drinks when we go to Elliott's first gig in that Vegas club -- I'd frankly prefer to hear him in an intimate setting and have thought that all along.

Ed said...

Damn, what a great post. As usual, so insightful and poignant. I love the snark, and I love the tender side - just like your man Elliott.

One good thing about this whole crazy Elliott phenomenon the past couple of months - I found your blog through a link on another Elliott site, and while Elliott's gone I'll be sticking around to check you out.

Back to the topic, how crazy that American Fucking Idol could make me cry tonight and give one of the most touching TV moments I've seen in a while? Well, I feel a little used because AI obviously didn't respect Elliott or his fans enough to give him such a great edit until his ass was gone, but nonetheless those fuckers got me.

Elliott, my man, on to smaller and better things. I'll be watching.

trudi said...

Does AI have any idea of the passions he is fueling? His dream can't die tonight because his dream is interconnected to the dreams of his fans. We can't all go up in a puff of smoke.
I hate to leave the house but I'll drag my ass across the country to hear him in person. I will find my way to any arena, theater, club, cabaret or dive that Mr. Yamin is gracing. Truly.

Susan: I look forward to the mockery.

Noone said...

Susan, I've only got the basics so far and haven't heard, seen or read much of what went on.

Susan, you're a class act too and I agree with every word you said about Elliott. The only thing I can add is that I hope he goes to a label and records a CD that is HUGE. That gives him International popularity - we Europeans love a good Soul Man and he's so very good, isn't he.

My one and only fear is that he doesn't make CD, but I can't see that happening. The record companies would have to be mad not to want a voice like his.

I'll be back for the laughs. Love the drawing.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the post. I feel crappy, but better. Elliott's a mensch, he just moves me....

Pinto said...

Since everyone is playing so nice tonight, I’ll be the first to point out the grotesque crassness of Kat and her clan. When Ryan announced E’s name, they showed a shot of each of the families. E’s mom was her usual endearing self. Frail but feisty. Taylor’s people looked genuinely pained. It was as if Taylor himself was getting kicked. Cut to the McPhuckheads and what are they doing?—yipping and hollering. Thank God you couldn’t hear what they were saying, but I think mamma was mouthing, “Mc-PHEE-VER.” That put me in a serious bitch-hating mood. I wanted to delete her cabaret-singing scientology-worshiping ass. McDad was his usual moist isn’t-my-snookums-the greatest-little-precious-child-prodigy-in-the-world lame-0 self. Dude, please grab some excess tissue from your jowls and fashion yourself a pair of balls. Don’t get me started on the princess, who could barely contain her glee. She dropped all pretenses of giving a rat’s ass about E. Why don’t we giggle some more for chrissakes?!?

Susan, please dismount from your high horse tomorrow and post some screen shots of these assholes. I found your blog yesterday. You managed to do in one reading what my wife has failed to do all season—convince me McTwerp is a fucking phony. Thanks

capturedcastle said...

I love all of your thoughts, as usual. Such a perfect way to beautifully wrap up Elliott's run on the show. And damn, has it been a run!

I'll go wherever he is to support whatever he's doing, as long as it means he's living his dream and he's set for life. He deserves it more than anyone else who has ever graced the AI stage. And I'm definitely in for drinks with Yaminions at whatever arena/lounge he's singing in.

Thanks so much... your words made a tough night a thousand times better.

Suki said...

Fantastic peice Susan, I can't say anything other than I am taking this worse than I thought I would but didn't actually start the waterworks until I read this - thanks for that! Elliott will fine, there is no way such a brilliant talent will be forgotten, I can't wait to come across the oceans to hear my man. Not sure I will ever be able to bring myself to watch this episode though. Let's pray Taylor wins next week.

Anonymous said...

That was beautiful. I will never forget about Elliott. I adore him whole-heartedly, and I hope that his dreams come true. He has more class in his pinky finger than some of those other people could ever have in their entire being.

His voice makes me melt. Love him. Best wishes to him. This is just the beginning.

I can't wait until you unleash your feelings in the next blog. :)

Anonymous said...

I feel a little bit brighter right now, Elliott's girlfriend has been posting on the AI boards and said he is really upbeat and excited, she also said his AI contract ends at the end of August. It is def her she has been messaging for months and proved it time and time again. Even telling what she would wear when she was at one of the shows. So not as long as I thought before he can start recording!

V.J. said...

Thanks Susan....you picked my spirits up....I feel just liek Elliott at time....it's like he's my bro. We sufferred a HUGe loss tonight!. HUGE ONE!. He'll be fine though. I also love what you said abotu being third, NOT BEing that bad.

V.J. said...

"I hope he makes more good music after riding out his contract. But to be honest, I'm not really that optimistic of AI 3rd placers. I hope some record execs noticed him."

Yeah.....that is what I am scared of. The person in the 3rd spot has always been...well, UNDESERVED, for the most part...or forgettable. I do, however, feel that trend will end. Why?! Cuz', he ACTUALLY had a chance at making the Finale, he is the most respected one....even over Kimberly Locke!. He is the ONLY male to leave 3rd!. He is loved by many.....he will be fine.

Myfanwy Collins said...

Hi Susan,

I feel like maybe there's a silver lining to all this--that by being free of the yoke of AI winner status, Elliott can continue to make the sort of music he loves to make. I believe he might be one of the few who actually has a career after his time on the idol tour is up.

cousin bernice said...

Wonderfully written as usual, Susan. It's been a blast reading your posts about our CinderElliott. Here's to his future!

SusanD said...

Steph, Pinto, Mel, Ed, Trudi, Noone, Captured, Suki, Anon, Anon, VJ, Cousin B, and Myf -- thanks you guys for stopping by and good thoughts from all.

SusanD said...

And Petrie -- you bet you'll buy the first round. Ill pay for our wedding license, though, alright ;)

Terri said...

Long live Elliott Yamin!

Awesome blog susan!

SusanD said...

Thanks, Terri ;)

MOMster said...

Thanks for the pix. Your commentary made me laugh and cry. And what about when Katharine said she hardly ever talks to her parents these days - contrast that to Elliott saying how lucky he was to go through all this with his mom. E-Fans R Us

SusanD said...

momster -- thank you :) Kat TEXTS her mom sometimes. Charming.

KateyKat said...

You rock, SusanD! Thanks for your poignance. It's very refreshing.

SusanD said...

Thanks so much, Kateykat.

Anonymous said...

Dear Susan,
You helped me through a difficult post-elimination week. I need your acquiescence to leave excerpts from this article on a parody I made here:

http://img255.imageshack.us/img255/3425/gladelliott4tl.jpg

Thank you!

SusanD said...

Go for it, anon, I'm honored. Great job on the pic!