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Friday, May 18, 2012

Josh Ledet: You Got Robbed

It was an Idol shocker, at least at my house. Josh Ledet didn't make the finals [for those of you who 1) don't like American Idol, 2) think American Idol is "fixed," or 3) think American Idol is a waste of time, feel free to move on to Ebay...this is going to be some Idol Chatter].

I've been watching American Idol devotedly since Season 2, and agree with the grinning and adjective-deficient judges: these are the best contestants in a long time, maybe ever. Randy's ceaseless yippings of "Yo Dog!," J-Lo's maddening "It's CRAZY!!" exclamations, and Steven's lofty cries of "Over the top!!!" notwithstanding, the performers this year have been terrific. We wound down to the final three last night, and to my amazement Louisiana boy Josh Ledet was voted off. I'm a fan of Phil Phillips, who in my humble and non-professional musical opinion is a unique artist in spite of his sometimes similarity to Dave Matthews. His talent is raw and compelling, and you can see when he sings that there's something interesting going on in his head. It also doesn't hurt that he's darling, reminding me a bit of a young Paul Newman. Jessica Sanchez has a powerhouse voice but frankly grates on my nerves. She's 16 and plays it sweet, but I get the sense there's a not-so-nice diva hiding beneath those hand-covering giggles.

Then there's Josh, a gentle fellow who for weeks got up on stage and blew everybody away with his soulful gospel Motown sound. When Josh sang it was as though an other-worldly spirit entered him. His eyes changed, his demeanor changed, his movements were performance perfection, and even he -- along with the rest of us -- seemed startled at what had just transpired when a song was over. He sang "Ready For Love" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hylvMUtFyC8), pure and beautiful; he sang "When A Man Loves A Woman," (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQ4pNlvt0m8) which brought me to tears and the judges to their feet; he sang "It's A Man's World" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4babjH3QF8), infusing new and thrilling life into an old James Brown hit and bringing down the house. 

I glanced at a few online comments after Josh was eliminated. Some viewers said he's too gospel. One fellow opined, "Screaming soulful is not very marketable long term unless you do a James Brown tour." I wanted to ask that clown if he was deaf and blind. Josh Ledet is a chill-bump creator, a guy who saunters to the microphone like he's been performing all his life. Yes, there was some screaming. There was also a honey voice and brilliant phrasing and a marriage of something old and something new that  gave birth to something wildly exciting and entertaining. Even the musicians playing behind him in "It's A Man's World" couldn't hold back the smiles and head shakes when Josh slipped into that place where creatively-gifted people go, the place where no one and nothing else exists but you and whatever it is that sets your visionary spark on fire. 

I know Josh is going to do more than fine. He's probably signing a record contract right this minute and will go on to great success. Still, this isn't America's Next Big Success Story In Singing. American Idol is a talent show that supposedly is about picking the performer who's the best of the season's group. Phil Phillips and Jessica Sanchez are really really good, and any other year probably would have been the right choices as final two. But not this year. Josh Ledet is a star whose twinkle dimmed a little on Thursday because he didn't go on to win American Idol, which he should have. Voters got this one very wrong.

PS: 25,000 page views at The Squeaky Pen...thanks everybody!


Patricia said...

I absolutely agree with you, and I believe Josh will go on to be HUGE. He alone could bring back any and all of those 60s Motown songs and give totally new life to them. AND, according to what I read on some Idol blog yesterday, Jimmy Ivone (spelling?) has already signed Josh to a record contract. I would buy a CD from him in a minute.

Kathleen Yasas said...

He is wonderful. Too bad voters didn't agree with us. Oh well...it's just a TV show, right?

Anonymous said...

I was happy to see Josh go down as I like the two remaining singers more. So, no, I don't think he was 'robbed'.

Kathleen Yasas said...

Dear Anonymous: thanks for the opinion, even though I STRONGLY disagree! :)

Anonymous said...

Josh was indeed robbed! He is by far the most talented performer and best singer of ALL the contestant this year or ever! Phil & Jessica are talented, but any concert they perform at will never top Josh's stage presence. He commands the stage! What is so wrong with being a soul singer who infuses his music with gospel? Afterall, every white singer in history stole or mimicked black soul, gospel music! Elvis, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, Jerry Lee Lewis, etc... I suppose the ugly face of racism always creeps into everything, even voting for the best singer on American Idol! Such a sad world we li e in!

nonny said...

Oh, Josh, you were my reason for being passionate about Idol since season 7. I dismissed you at first as just another hysterical, subpar gospel singer, but within a week or two of the live performances, I knew I was watching a truly gifted, truly special talent.

You were most definitely robbed. But the good news is: both Nigel and Jimmy thought you were robbed, too. No doubt Jimmy will do everything he can to ensure you get the best chance at success, despite "losing" American Idol. You didn't really lose, you just didn't get the title - big difference. Thanks for sharing your gift with us. Not just your stellar voice, but also your lovely spirit. I wish you major success purely for selfish reasons: I want to enjoy your magnificent voice for years to come!

nonny said...

I'm not sure it's racism. If it were, he wouldn't have made it so far. I think it's more about Jessica and Phil (but especially Jessica) having very loyal and massive fan bases. I believe Joshua's fans are many, but more scattered; less "organized" - for lack of a better term.

Josh may have even had more fans in total number, but fewer "power voters" logging in hundreds of votes apiece. This is why the show is not really an accurate predictor of who will make it in the real world. Nigel Lithgoe has already tweeted that Josh was his favourite. Jimmy said weeks ago that he was going to make a record with Josh. Don't despair! Winners of the show aren't always the ones who have the brightest careers. Joshua has as good a chance as Adam Lambert to make a go of a non-win.

Kathleen Yasas said...

It's easy to play the racism card, but like nonny, I doubt that's why Josh was voted off. Phil is pulling in the teenybopper vote, and Josh's style of music probably has smaller mass audience appeal. As for Jessica...I can't explain that one. She bugs me, with the runs and the big vocals and the hint of attitude. Now that Josh is gone, I'm cheering for Phil. And yes. Josh will go far, Idol winner or not.

Anonymous said...

I too thought Joshua was just another soul singer/gospel singer. I thought omg, not Jacob Lusk again. I am an African American woman that attends a baptist church. Our choir is stellar. I can hear some of the best gospel singing every Sunday morning..so I'm not necessarily looking for that on Idol if that makes sense. Joshua is old spirit/new spirit infused and I am in awe of this young man. I can't stop listening, way after Idol is over.

Kathleen Yasas said...

Thanks, Anonymous, I too thought he was great, and can't stop listening!

About Me

Newspaper columnist; blogger; author of Delta Dead; author of 101 Tip$ From My Depression-Era Parents; author of Australian Fly; editor: ...And I Breathed (author, Jason Garner, former CEO of Global Music at Live Nation), "A History of the Lawrence S. Donaldson Residence"; "The Port Washington Yacht Club: A Centennial Perspective"; "The Northeastern Society of Periodontists: The First Fifty Years"; editor: NESP Bulletin; editor: PWYC Mainsail; past editorial director: The International Journal of Fertility & Women's Medicine; past editor of: Long Island Power & Sail, Respiratory Review; Medical Travelers' Advisory; School Nurse News; Clear Images; Periodontal Clinical Investigations; Community Nurse Forum