I started to watch American Idol because of Jasmine Trias.
It was in Season 3 when that bubbly Filipina burst onto our screens. She sang imperfectly most of the time, failing to nail the lower notes as ironic as that may sound. But it didn’t matter — she was a Pinay trying to make it internationally and we, I, supported her. Sure, Camille Velasco was there too, but there was just something about Jasmine that was more Filipino — was it her penchant for the ballads? Camille was a young Lauren Hill as judge Randy Jackson put it, but Jasmine was a Regine belting out the Whitneys and Mariahs as if she was one of those kids in amateur singing contests.
And so I followed her journey on Idol. Even though she screwed up “It’s Raining Men”, I wished, oh how I wished, that she’d make it to the finale.
She didn’t. But watching her was enough to get me hooked on the show.
And so I watched Idol from then — I saw how the show was on the rise after Kelly Clarkson proved that the show really can find and make stars. Carrie, Katharine, Elliott, Jordin, David Archie, Kris — I picked my favorites season after season, anticipating their performance every week until the release of their albums. I even got published on Spot.PH for an Idol rundown of the worst contestants ever (link here, forgive the typos!).
It doesn’t stop there — during Season 4, I was even a member of an American Idol Yahoo!group in which we
discussed each contestant’s performance, as well as shared mp3 files of those performances (iTunes did not exist at the time). For Season 6’s finale, I purposely missed my Japanese class finals just so I could watch the show live. And in Season 7 (which I think was the best one ever, hello Andrew Lloyd Webber week), Gab, Cands and I even made a bet on who can have the closest prediction of the top 12 based on the 24. Loser/s treats the winner to ice cream. This was also the season Rj & I intently watched together — you can imagine him, being a Theatre Major, get very excited about Broadway week.
But somewhere along lackluster Seasons 9 & 10 (which both spurred predictably lackluster stars), I gave up on Idol. I got tired of the formula, and the auditions weren’t even that funny anymore. Add to that Simon’s departure, I thought the show was done. I mean, how can a show that promises to find an Idol not be able to produce at least a top 10 album? A friend and I used to laugh at Jordin at how her first album only debuted at #10 on the Billboard 200, only to realize that she’d be one of the more successful Idol alumni later on. What’s the ultimate goal, anyway? To be on Idol or to be a superstar?
Not even Thia Megia of Season 10, another Filipina, can bring back that fervor. She wasn’t really that good — she was too young, and I think people supported her just because she’s Filipino. I became a hater, trolling on people’s Idol posts.
But this season is different. It’s reminding me of what I love about the show, and how I fell in love with it.
Not only is there a good mix of talent this year (hello, last year’s finale was a country showdown), but there’s someone to clearly root for — Jessica Sanchez.
Yes, you can say I’m rooting for her because she’s a Filipino, but it’s really so beyond that now. This is about pure, natural talent, about who can take on a Whitney and surpass expectations. Listening to how she opens Stuttering originally by Jazmine Sullivan gives me the shivers, better yet, the goosies.
Most of all, it’s that unpredictability that makes a great reality show. In Season 4, the top 4 was composed of Anthony Fedorov, Carrie Underwood, Vonzell Solomon and Bo Bice; you just couldn’t predict who would go next because they all had such awesome performances. Similarly in season 5, you just couldn’t tell who’ll make it to the following week — Katharine McPhee, Taylor Hicks, Elliott Yamin or Chris Daughtry?
And now were in the same scenario. Who will go home — Skylar, Hollie, Joshua, Philip or God forbid, Jessica? An argument for each can be made, but there is no certainty.
This unpredictability, this anticipation is reminding how Idol has excited me over the years — crossing my fingers hoping that Kat makes it over Daughtry, going against the whole family when I rooted for Carrie over Bo / Jordin over Blake, even screaming like a girl during David Cook & Archuleta’s concert in Manila. Season 11 is turning out to be one of the best.
Now I’m watching again because of Jessica Sanchez.