James Durbin is a rock singer from Santa Cruz, California. According to JoesPlaceBlog, he has made the Top 40 for the 10th season of American Idol. The Top 40 is the last round before the voting round, which will consist of a Top 20 of two groups of 10 (one boys and one girls). From that group, five boys and five girls will advance based on public viewer voting. The other spots (the number is not clear yet) will be filled by producer/judge wildcard picks. Therefore, if James Durbin makes one more round, his fate will rest with the voters.
Durbin has been taking his videos offline, presumably because he has made the cut to at least the Top 40. This is a common practice, as the show generally does not want public videos up if a contestant is going to compete for votes. But I happened to watch Durbin’s performance of The Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” This dude has an insanely huge vocal range. He can wail like hard rockers and is already being compared to Adam Lambert. This is a positive to say the least. But it is not clear that this will lead to a victory for several reasons.
First, simply hitting high notes and belting or wailing is not really that impressive to most voters. No hard rocker has ever won American Idol, and those who hit high notes don’t necessarily do as well as expected. For example, Siobhan Magnus is an amazing belter of high notes, but she still went out in 6th place in Season 9. Even Adam Lambert, the best wailer so far on Idol, failed to win against a much more mellow singer in Kris Allen.
On the other hand, artistry is more important than just hitting notes. This is what Siobhan’s hardcore fans never understood. She simply didn’t know how to interpret most songs, leaving the bulk of voters with a lack of emotional connection to her performances.
If we judge based solely on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” it seems that James Durbin is extremely good at interpreting a song. Of course, one song could be rehearsed over and over again to near perfection (exactly why people should reserve judgment until hearing a full live performance on the actual show). But those awesome wailing notes cannot simply be rehearsed. The guy has some major pipes.
On the other hand, he acts very inappropriately while singing on a public street in his “Bohemian Rhapsody ” performance. And that wailing, while skilled, may just go too far for Idol. So artistic song choices will be key if he gets a chance in the voting rounds. I assume he is smart enough to straighten up his act on a national TV show, so that probably won’t be a problem. A hard-rocker attitude will obviously not cut it on Idol.
It is not clear what kind of approach James Durbin will take on the show. Will he take the hard-rock route or mix up some hard-rocking songs with some softer selections? Most likely, that would be the thing to do. Songs like “Gently Weeps” would be a good choice to allow for emotional interpretation while showing off the pipes at the same time. If he can make the right choices, Durbin could certainly emerge as a favorite to be the first hard rocker to win American Idol. This also depends a great deal on his personality, which needs to appeal to a mainstream audience to get popularity votes.
JoesPlaceBlog James Durbin Spoilers
James Durbin “While My Guitar Weeps” Performance
Warning: Video could be removed at any time.
James Durbin “Bohemian Rhapsody” Performance
Side Note: This potential backstory is practically tailor made for American Idol. According to an article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, James has both Tourette’s syndrome and Asperger’s disorder. You can surely expect this to be featured on the show. You can read more here.