"Idol": Defining moments

The tenth season of “Idol” premieres today, and it’s prompted plenty of insightful coverage on the show’s past, present and future. It’s always fun to dig into the show’s history by exploring the defining moments of each season – but what about the moments that define your own journey as an “Idol” fan? Here are a few of my own:

Season 3: Camile Velasco, “Ready or Not”

I didn’t start watching “Idol” until its third season, and Camile was the first contestant I ever rooted for. The 18-year-old IHOP waitress from Hawaii had an admittedly flawed run on the show, thanks to uncontrollable nerves, but her first audition embodied all the stuff that’s kept me coming back for more on “Idol”: humility, genuine passion and promising, uncultivated talent.

Season 4: Carrie Underwood, “Angels Brought Me Here”

Although she’s grown into an explosive performer in the five years since she won, in many ways, this finale night performance is a perfect representation of Carrie’s persona as an artist: poised, polished yet emotionally raw. It’s a combination that makes it easy (and understandable) for critics to mistake her as one-dimensional, but as someone whose personality is freakishly similar to hers –flaws and all–, I just get it. And in turn, I’ve been able to connect with her and her music on a very special level.

Season 5: 

Hands down, my favorite season to date. It didn’t have the most talented Top 12, but it certainly had the most memorable – a somewhat amateur bunch of characters, bubbling over with distinct personalities and skills. A good chunk of my all-time favorite “Idol” performances come from this season, including Katharine McPhee’s “Until You Come Back To Me,” Chris Daughtry’s “Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?” and Elliot Yamin’s “Somebody to Love.” The season also began during a trying time in my life and, in its own small way, helped pull me through.

Season 8: “Kradam”

This hug is heart-melting on its own, but it’s representative of a larger lesson Adam and Kris weaved through Season 8: tolerance. They were an unlikely pair –the church music director from Arkansas and the then sexually ambiguous hipster from California– and the media relentlessly pitted them against each other. But they forged ahead with a genuine friendship, even making a point to highlight it ininterviews by explaining that you can always find common ground if you look hard enough. It’s stuff like this that cuts through the commerciality and glitz of “Idol” and reminds me that there are real people with real stories at its core – and you never know what you might learn from them.


Posted on January 19, 2011 and filed under American Idol.