Justin Guarini: Humbler Days Skipping Meals To Feed His Children

American Idol season 1 runner-up, Justin Guarini, posted an eye opening blog about what his life has been like post-Idol. While the fame and money flowed at one point, he’s had to adjust to a much more modest lifestyle. But, happily, he seems to be in a good place at the moment.

His next project will find him heading to Broadway to play Paris in a revival of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet:

There was a time when I would have had a car service drive me from my home to work.

Now I drive myself to the station and take the train.

There was a time when I wouldn’t have been concerned about the amazing expense of eating at place like Green Symphony.

Now, I budget. I have spent days skipping meals in order to make sure I have enough. To make sure my children, and my wife have enough.

There was a time when I couldn’t walk the street w/o being stopped a hundred times for a photo or a press of flesh.

Now one in a thousand might stop me, or notice. For the rest I might (might) trigger some dim memory, stuffed at the back of long unfired synaptic pathways overgrown with the clutter of social media.

There was a time when I felt separate from the people I worked with. Like I didn’t belong. Like I was an interloper. So steeped were they in the arts they chose. I, a talented man without a country, so to speak.

Now I am a proud member of a family of like minded artisans who embrace me without pause, without judgment…well, at least without any more than the usual amount of judgement this business breeds. I am home, and my industry family…ever changing and rearranging…thrives.

There was a time when I put on a brave face, smiled, and laughed to show that I was impervious and unafraid.

Now, I’m unafraid to say that I am terrified. I am struggling to make each day meet the next without breaking down and curling up. Sometimes I envy people who sit at a desk all day (at least you know where your next meal is coming from). I’ll smile, and laugh,and joke, and entertain…because sometimes it’s the only way to keep the ghosts of regret and loss at bay. I am unafraid to be afraid, and in that fear I gather strength.

There was a time when I could have thrown down cash for a house, and had any number of lovers in and out the door. A flashy car and clothes to match. An ego to trump them all.

Now I rent a home filled with love. I have a wife whom I love and who loves me (me!) and who lifts me up. Children who give me cherubic-lippped kisses before I leave for work and who are the most delicious morsels of joy and peace and prosperity. I drive a family oriented import, that is over mileage. My clothes are a mixture of gift-suite holdovers, things I bought when I had money but no style, and H&M (I LOVE that place…total whore for ‘em). My ego, is blessedly humble (still sizable, as I think it should be for everyone…but only seeking to respect self, not to put others down in order to raise the self up)

There was a time when I would have never guessed that I’d be telling you any of this. When I would have bought something I couldn’t afford, just to prove that I was ok after everything went wrong. When I would have told you that I was cool, when I wasn’t.

Now I tell you all this to reintroduce myself to you. As I am now. To take you with me on this new adventure, to hopefully regain and surpass all that I had before…but this time with a family. This time with grounding, and joy, and peace that comes from knowing that I love myself. Really love myself.

It ain’t perfect, but loving me is the key to keeping myself from doing the dumb shit we all do in the name of…

It feels like madness to admit any of this…but I’d rather be outright crazy and free, than seemingly sane and a prisoner of convention.

Peace & Blessings,

JG

VIA Early Morning Madness

Justin was recently a guest on Oprah Winfrey’s “Where are They Now,” pretty much mining the same subject.

  • jake

    The contestants from season 12 should be forced to read this.

  • Axxxel

    Thank you Justin for sharing this valuable lifestory.. That must have been hard,

  • suenigma

    Beautifully written

  • Jeff Dodge

    Are we supposed to feel sorry for him or something? I don’t get it. I mean, obviously it’s terrible for certain things like skipping meals and all that, but saying things like “Now I drive myself”–oh, poor Justin, now he’s just like us. He’s choosing to stay in the entertainment field, and if that means suffering along the way, that’s on him, not on us the Idol fans who made him somewhat famous for a very brief amount of time.

  • Amy Beth

    ALL contestants should read it, past and future.

  • Amy Beth

    I think you missed the point. He used to be a “celebrity”, now he feels OK as an artist.

  • jake

    Agreed but there are a number from this year who need a dose of reality.

  • Jeff Dodge

    Oh no, I don’t deny that he may now be fine with not being famous, but it’s the way he’s worded everything, as if he thought at one time, even if he doesn’t now, that it’s a travesty he has to drive himself places and all the other things he mentions. That’s the way it comes off to me, whether he meant it that way, that’s another thing.

  • Anny_nanny

    I think the alumni from previous seasons already know this. Or they don’t help anything.

  • suenigma

    I still think you missed the point. I think he is saying that the travesty was the excess – him having a driver but no humility, expensive clothing but no taste, multiple lovers but no love, etc. I don’t think he is asking anyone to feel sorry for him. Rather, he would love more material success, but he is thankful for his art, his life and his family now.

  • Jeff Dodge

    I guess. I just think he should have only done that Oprah interview and left it at that, instead of continuing to go on and on about it like he is doing. Plus, there is that underlying notion that he may be doing this partly because he’s about to start Romeo & Juliet, and so he’s trying to get his name back out there. That can’t be 100% a coincidence, the timing of it all.

  • suenigma

    Uhmmm, it is a personal blog, not a published article or interview. These are his heartfelt thoughts. Why should he not share them, particularly in such an articulate manner. I was personally very moved by his words and I am not an artist, so I can only imagine how these words might impact any struggling artist, or in particular, any artist who has found and lost fame, however fleeting, but who found themselves in the journey.

    I really do not see how you can find this little blog a bad thing. And do you begrudge him the opportunity to promote himself and his work?

  • chillj

    If I understood what he said correctly, he did not skip meals, he skipped meals eating out. Who doesn’t?

  • Jeff Dodge

    My point exactly.

  • Beaugard Stevens

    I don’t know, to put so much emphasize on the monetary level is a bit tacky- and it makes him appear shallow. Even if he doesn’t have those things now, he is certainly thinking about them.

  • Jeff Dodge

    He said, “I have spent days skipping meals in order to make sure I have enough.”

  • Jeff Dodge

    On the promotion deal–would he be saying all these things if he didn’t have Romeo & Juliet coming up? Probably not. So is it 100% genuine? The meaning behind the words may be, but the timing is just another thing that makes it feel not 100% genuine.

  • Beaugard Stevens

    I agree- the shallowness is startling.

  • No Thanks

    I think he’s emphasizing it because the blog is meant as a cautionary tale. In short, that fame and money are fleeting for most in the entertainment business and what is most important if friends, family and enjoying what you do.

    He’s saying the life of an “artist” is usually one filled with struggle and the precious few ever make it BIG.

  • Ari

    This should be a lesson to all those Idol finalists who get elminated and are under delusions of grandeur that they will make it like Jennifer Hudson did. How many people whove finished that low have made it? Few. Even many in the top 4 dont make it big. And the fame dies down pretty quickly to the point youre lucky if you can get paid for the local coffeehouse in your town or do the wedding and bar mitzvah circuit. With ratings lower, much fewer people even know your names or care about you. Thats why the tour is so special – enjoy it – most of you will never play those types of sites ever ever ever again. And most of you will not even be able to squeeze out a living doing music

  • Ari

    DIdnt you know being eliminated this early is the best thing to happen to me because it just means I can start my career that much early. Ive heard people are writing songs for me and Im so excited to release my first album. And people like Randy would further these delusions telling them theyre going to have great careers and youre a star. How many people have been told they are stars on reality shows?

  • Ari

    People dont realize fame is a drug…and when everyone around you treats you a certain way – like youre special and better than they are – and everyone caters to your needs and you can make demands, it plays with your mind. You start believing it and then its all away. Youre a hit boy band in your 20s and by 40 no one cares. You have a huge single or two and then your second album flops. You win a reality show and think youre the second coming of Madonna only to get dropped when your album doesnt sell

  • suenigma

    The two (promotion and feelings) are not mutually exclusive. When Jennifer Hudson sat down to talk about the loss of her mother and nephew for the first time with Oprah, and it happened to coincide with her last album and Weight Watchers promotion, were the feelings she expressed not 100% genuine?

  • Ari

    Nothing wrong with getting your name out there. Thats the purpose of doing a TV show. All these people rather make a living singing and doing what they love than working at Macy’s or on a contruction job or answering phones at a law office

  • Eilonwy_has_an_emu

    A person who never thinks about money is either a saint or a fool.

    I see nothing wrong with Guarini admitting that he’s noticed a difference between the celebrity lifestyle and the more ordinary lifestyle of a working artist. He’d be blind not to notice. (I’m rarely impressed by money, but damn, there are days when it’d be handy to throw it at a problem and see the problem go away.)

    His position is that he’s happy enough with the struggle to be an artist, so he’s found his fragile peace on the side of non-shallow-ness. He also apparently sometimes wonders what that Idol Train of Celebrity that ran over him was… which seems like a reasonable reaction to getting sideswiped by the Fame Express.

    His prose style runs to the overwrought and self-consciously poetic, but his message seems reasonable enough.

  • jake

    Based on the attendance for this season’s tour these finalists barely have that!!!

  • jake

    Hysterical!!!

  • chillj

    Dep;ends on how you read it. It looks like meals at the Green symphony. A budget is not a life crisis.

  • curly_yenta

    I would estimate 95% of all the Top 10 finalists from all 12 seasons have had similar experiences of what Justin talks about. If you don’t have a solid plan as to how your going to use your springboard from Idol, then you’ll sink like a stone, just like he did. He’s just now trying to stay afloat and earn a living through music and performing. Only a selected few thrive and survive. No room for whimps in this business, that’s for sure.
    I’m thrilled he opened up about this, though …… seems this type of failure/hardship is never talked about when Idol is brought up in the media. It’s like the hidden secret nobody admits too.

  • suenigma

    Exactly, this does have not the glamour of a classic success story, nor the drama and excitement of a crash and burn, it is more the story of quietly fading back into the woodwork from whence he came. A cautionary tale for sure.

  • girlygirl

    It’s an interesting read but what it shows is that you cannot expect to become rich and/or famous just because you do well on some reality show. Instead of rushing out to buy things you probably don’t need and may not be able to afford a year or two or five after you buy them, Instead, try to save your money and live a modest lifestyle and you will probably be ok, at least financially.

    As for the whole how you are perceived in the industry, well that’s an entirely different thing. There’s a huge stigma being a reality show contestant, but it can be overcome. I think the key is to not expect anything to be handed to you, Instead, work your butt off and treat everyone you come in contact with with respect. If you do that, I think most people will take you seriously, even if you don’t end up having a ton of success. There have been a few contestants who think they are going to have instant fame, win awards, sell oodles of records, as soon as they come off their show. 9 times out of 10, that doesn’t happen, and the realities of what it takes to make any kind of decent living in the entertainment industry can come as quite a shock/letdown.

  • jake

    Agreed and even if you have a plan it is beyond their control

  • curly_yenta

    Yep, and that’s why I snicker when people use Kelly and Carrie as the ‘comparison duo’. They are one in a million and lucky as all heck to get to the position they are today. Yes, they are talented, but so are others who are just as talented and didn’t have the dumb luck they did in being in the right place at the right time.

  • Incipit

    “A person who never thinks about money is either a saint or a fool.”

    Just wanted to underline that sentence…Carry On.

  • curly_yenta

    Word! It’s delusionary success that only lives in the minds of the ill-informed.

  • waitingforthe1

    Oh poor Justin he has to drive himself to work instead of having a driver. He can’t eat at a fancy restaurant anymore. He wears older clothes. He rents a house and doesn’t have multiple lovers. Is he serious?

    what I get from his blog is that he was stupid with his money early on because he thought he’d be a bigger star than he turned out to be.

    He’s worked steadily over the last 10 years in theater and I’m guessing that he’s made more than the average person doing it so it’s difficult to muster up much more than an eyeroll at this self-pity blog.

    Does his wife not work? is he the sole breadwinner in his house and if so why is that exactly? In this economy most homes with children need to have two people working because kids are super expensive.
    Is this the tactic he’s using to try to regain traction in the public eye? Doesn’t seem like a very well thought out plan if so because while I thought he sounded insincere on Oprah now I think he sounds like a whiner too.

  • No Thanks

    I agree. Some come into the show thinking just getting onto the show will bring think all the fame and fortune they ever wanted (usually the really young and naive ones like your Amber’s, Lazaro’s, Justin’s, etc..).

    Some come into just for shits and giggles. Like your Sanjaya’s or Kevin Covais’s.

    Some come into it more realistically and view it just as a stepping stone to better things but realize that they will still need to hustle hard afterwards to build upon it.

  • surpriseleft

    Cry me a river. Idol has opened up opportunities for this guy that 99.9% of struggling artists would die for. Even most Idol finalists won’t be lucky enough to land a major label deal or get cast in a Broadway play. If you can’t find success after having everything handed to you on a silver platter, it simply wasn’t meant to be.

  • jake

    and that is this current group of idol finalists

  • surpriseleft

    LOL. You don’t think the guy in your avatar is the textbook definition of “dumb luck”?

  • lkingcorn

    I think this is a honest portrayal of his life as it happened. I am sure it’s one thing to be at the top then suddenly your phone doesn’t ring. His is just one if the many stories that have come from Idol. Even winning guarantees nothing but a year of success maybe two. Obviously there are thousands if struggling artists but they aren’t usually thrust into the limelight and then left to dangle. Why all the rude remarks?

  • Wfish88

    Didn’t know he had that much money to spend because his career was dead on arrival after his album flopped

  • Wfish88

    If there’s ever been any luck associated with any winner there’s no doubt in my mind its P2.

  • No Thanks

    I know, right!? Idol is a unique experience (ESPECIALLY those who were in the earlier seasons). Most entertainers road to fame is slow and arduous. Filled with ups and downs and largely anonymous. Look at people like Katy Perry or Lady Gaga. The got and lost record deals. Slogged away in obscurity for years before the had their break through. Or a Bruno Mars or Kanye West who worked behind the scenes writing and producing before they got the spotlight.

    Being on Idol is like being shot out of cannon in front of millions of people while screaming LOOK AT ME! And for a few months everything is AWESOME! Millions of fans, putting out singles on iTunes every week, a national ARENA tour!! Then as fast as it came, it’s over. it’s over for most. Only a lucky few can continue on the same path.

    It’s like going from an awesome drug fueled high to a horrible withdrawal ridden crash.

    I can feel for Justin (and those from the earlier seasons). They had NO idea what they were in for. I have less sympathy for the more recent alumni and hopefuls. Idol has been around long enough to see the success stories, the failures and the cautionary tales to give them enough knowledge to go into the show with their eyes wide open and their expectations tempered.

  • Wfish88

    Or look at Katharine Mcphee & Blake Lewis, Kristy Lee Cook, They managed to get big record deals even after being dropped by major labels years before.

  • curly_yenta

    Actually, that guy in the avatar got everything he has today because of core talent, hard work, tenacity and determination and knowing how to swim the currents of fame and the music business. That’s why he thriving 7 years after his win.

  • MarySue

    I wouldn’t say playing for 100 people at a cheap Vegas show is “thriving” but whatever floats your boat. He is often used as a punch line for Idol failures.

  • MarySue

    How about contestants from every season? I remember when Chris Sligh wrote a blunt blog after season 8 about what they should expect and that its a hard world out there. The Season 12 kids have been the idol punching bag long enough.

  • MarySue

    Paula was always telling people they were going to be stars, I remember when she told that young and tearful Alaina Whitaker girl in Season 7 that “this is the start of an amazing career.”

  • escape

    It would be a lot tougher for Kelly and Carrie if they came on the scene today. Their chart careers will eventually slow down. Just like Daughtry’s has.

  • usedtobelucy

    Honestly, I think you’re mainly being misled by his bad writing. He’s got a melodramatic sophomore-in-high-school writing style that I think is the main source of the bad impression you get — and does make it seem as if he’s begging for sympathy or something.

    But when you look a little more closely, I think you see that, for the most part, he’s portraying his young briefly rich self as delusional and going overboard to portray the contrast between his truly good, realistic life now with the hyped-up richie-rich one he thought he was living and would live forever. He does repeatedly describe his current life as having way more substance, love and true achievement than the other life had, so I think he’s actually meaning to portray it as the good life. But that idea definitely gets obscured in the ineffective prose.

  • fuzzywuzzy

    Justin probably got a hefty advance on his album and may have been a bit extravagant until the reality set in.

  • realdeal

    How about Taylor Hicks still gets to do a small gig in Vegas because of dumb luck and Carrie and Kelly are superstars and got everything they have today because of core talent, hard work, tenacity and determination and knowing how to swim
    the currents of fame and the music business.

    That sound closer to the truth to me.

    Taylor even had the dumb luck to be on the highest rated season of Idol. Not the he parlayed that into any greater success than those who didn’t have such luck.

    It’s hilarious the way Kelly and Carrie’s success is jabbed at with some vague dismissive comments, yet YEAR AFTER YEAR they are still the ones on top while the rest come and go.

    Their success isn’t owed to dumb luck. They have talent and they know what the hell they are doing. That’s why they didn’t flame out after being on Idol. Or after one album or two albums or three albums or four albums. That’s why they could sit 200 people many times over night after night, AND sell albums AND win awards AND be invited to the biggest events and more. That’s why they both won Grammys AGAIN this year. Nice critical recognition from the industry to go along with those ablum sales.

    If it were all about dumb luck or some such nonsense, this article wouldn’t even be here to comment on because Justin Guarini would be in a limo on his smartphone telling his stylist to bring his wardrobe selection directly to his video shoot.

  • realdeal

    It would be tougher for Britney. It would be tougher for Celine. It would be tougher for Madonna. Who would it be easy for?

    Every career has a shelf life. If both their careers ended today they still reached the highest of highs in more ways than one and will be remembered for their music.

  • Jeff Dodge

    Ditto.

  • justmefornow

    Is he any luckier than Kelly or Carrie? Are they all lucky or are they all talented? How come he’s just considered lucky, but they are both considered talented, lol.
    It’s all kinda ridiculous, IMO.

    Or is it all just a crap shoot and the three of them are no more talented than other winners?

    This is my guess, btw.

  • fuzzywuzzy

    Kelly and Carrie have all of the qualities that you have listed, and their success is largely due to those qualities and not just “dumb luck”.

  • Cory Patrick

    This is why you save and invest, not just spend

  • bearcatnat

    Aww, this makes me a little sad. I always thought Justin Guarini was quite talented, and I never understood why he didn’t have any staying power. I’m glad he is doing well and in a happy place now.

  • seldomused

    Because his song was played for the girl’s Olympic team and the girls won that year? If the “Home” song hadn’t been written “just so” with those pauses in the lyrics (it was those pauses in the song that allowed for commentary by the media – this is documented by the way, and one reason the song was chosen) chances are it wouldn’t have been chosen to be the song at the Olympics. Had the song not been chosen, chances are it would not have gone 4x platinum…

  • thirdtime

    Justin is from my area and he’s still in the news quite a bit around here as a local celebrity. He’s had many good opportunities in his life that a lot of people don’t ever get. His parents are well off with great jobs (his mom worked for CNN and other networks as a news anchor if I remember correctly), he had great connections (isn’t his dad somehow related to Samuel L. Jackson? and I think I read someplace that he was at Quincy Jones’ birthday party when he was young, before Idol). He’s put out two albums, worked in lots of plays not only on Broadway but in local theaters, and teaches The Justin Guarini School of Performance at a Freestyle Dance Academy in our area. So I’m not quite sure what to make of his sad stories lately of skipping meals so his children can eat.

  • No Thanks

    We don’t know what Justin makes from his gigs. We also don’t know how much it costs him to support his family. And just because his parents are well off, it doesn’t mean Justin is. It’s not like he’s the heir of a family fortune like the Hiltons. And being related to Samuel L. Jackson don’t make him rich either. I have 1st cousin (once removed) who is a hip hop media mogul but that doesn’t mean I’m hanging with Kanye and Jay-Z. I’ve never even met the dude.

  • thirdtime

    I agree…it just confuses me a bit because it seems as if he’s been working pretty steadily. If he couldn’t make it without skipping meals, how in the world are some of these other Idols making it?

  • TheOther

    What about his CD?. It’s been shown that a hit song doesn’t always mean a hit CD. Then there is Platinum single #2. Now, his 3rd single, a co-write, is already #31 on AAA media base. Phillip has always been more of a musician. I’m sure that was a consideration for John Mayer when he chose him as his opener.

  • No Thanks

    They could be struggling as much as he is but not letting the world know.

  • taylor

    So, Carrie is a multi-millionaire, multi-hitmaker, Grammy award winning artist due to dumb luck because she won Idol one year earlier than the highest rated season? (which is the season your snowflake won) What happened to the dumb luck that year, when ratings were at their highest point and the tour did better than any other year? Did Taylor squander all his opportunities away, so that those advantages didn’t help him? They sure didn’t hurt another contestant that season, Daughtry. He ended up with multiple hits and an album that sold over 4 million copies. Where was Taylor’s core talent then?

  • roaringpen

    Yes, exactly how I read it.

  • Niall

    I don’t interpret what he wrote as a poor me type thing at all. It’s part cautionary tale (about the foolishness of youth, success, and ego) and part triumph (true fulfillment with age and wisdom, not material possessions). I appreciate his willingness to be real. I think others, like Blake and maybe Elliott have touched on post AI financial struggles but never as fully as Justin did here. The entertainment world is unpredictable so if you can make your living in it, even if that living is classic middle class, that’s success.

  • zebracrunk

    I’ve asked this before and didn’t get an answer, but what are some examples of S12 contestants being so stuck up and egotistical? I don’t remember them acting that way, although I’m not denying it.

  • Anny_nanny

    I agree about Taylor, for me he is an example of hard work and mind. I’m not saying that Kelly and Carrie do not have this, but the girls have a full package + desire and aspiration of label to promote them and invest in them a lot of money. It is an amazing combination, and I’m glad that everything turned out this way for them. But this does not detract talents others, including Taylor.
    Yes, he could pull all the money earned on the show and on tour, that he got for his first album, and now he could sit in front of us on the spot Justin and tell us how not developed his career and his dreams were deceived . But every year I see he ??is still grateful the AI for the start that he got on the show, that he could not get for otherwise, and he never does not complain.
    Is there in Taylor’s career an element of luck? I do not believe that any of the finalists of any season can complain about the lack of luck. Another question is what else do they have besides luck?

  • Karen C

    The entertainment world is unpredictable so if you can make your living in it, even if that living is classic middle class, that’s success.

    I agree, and to a lot of musicians, that is success. I personally have known musicians who had to get full time jobs, and would have loved to be in music as their career, and they had the ability but some don’t get the chance, and did their music on the side of a full time job. What Idol does do is give a musician an audience so they might be able to make their living as musicians, even on a smaller scale.

  • Karen C

    Even though he has had a major label album, Justin probably didn’t make that much from it. I have heard of even much more successful artists who ended up with financial problems, even after having huge hits. Management and the label get their share, plus if there’s promotion or videos. And I’m not sure if I understand it, but if they get an advance it might be recoupable which I think means they can get it back from the profits. So artists might not end up with as much as they think even if they have hit songs, and some end up spending too much. I remember TLC going bankrupt despite having hit songs and a hit album , for this reason.

    And even though he worked on TV and does theater, that doesn’t necessarily mean he works all the time. So, it’s possible he doesn’t make a lot from that.

    It’s great that he can still make a living in music or acting, even not making a lot, but he has to also make decisions that are right for his family.

  • fuzzywuzzy

    Taylor has always been very gracious about Idol and grateful for the exposure he got from the show. I don’t follow him at all, but he’s always come across as pretty classy to me, no matter what he’s been doing in his career.

  • DragonFly

    The reality is written here for any celeb wannabe but it had a bit of the “poor me” slant to it too. Bec AI was new then I would imagine the vulnerability to imagine it was automatically going to be “Wow! Fame & Fortune knocking at my door” &…. for a while post show it is just that. It’s first getting to the pt that history for Idols (good & bad) should dance in all their heads as wakeup calls. But they all get filled w/”the Exception” idea & to a degree. “as well it should”. “Dumb luck” is reality & no one should interpret the “dumb” as a knock to P2’s having this fantastic run—it just means those “stars aligned rather perfectly so far”. His talent is on a decent level w/many others but I think even he “if sat on (lol)” would admit it was unexpected fast fame.

    Random quotes here
    “He’s saying the life of an “artist” is usually one filled with struggle and that precious few ever make it BIG.”
    ……That is the reality that sets in after the show & should to a degree. but w/o a drive/ego to think you can for most entertainers, it won’t have a chance. Few people make it to stardom w/o holding some successful image of themselves in mind.

    “If you don’t have a solid plan and surround yourself with trusted advisors as to how your going to use your springboard from Idol, then you’ll sink like a stone…”
    ……………If you never expected to make it that far on the show, it all comes in a huge wave of confusion. Imo solid plan is hard to come by for most as fast as the success on the show hits them. Some come to the auditions w/nvr a doubt they will win, while many are shocked & even more knocked off their feet by the love thrown at them from fans. To add to the expectations, now they are expected to play an instrument well & write fantastic music right out the gate!—rules are changing since the early seasons. A good voice isn’t even enough any more!

    “There’s a huge stigma being a reality show contestant, but it can be overcome. I think the key is to not expect anything to be handed to you,”

    ………..You know, tv (as talk show guest singers) doesn’t seem to feel it’s a stigma nor does the public at events & buying their music– IF they hear about it coming out. The real putdown is from the place Idols most need it—radio. Unless they are a big name from the past on Idol still selling records or radio is MADE to play their song like w/Home’s “already popular” standing moved then onto radio—radio’s stigma & prejudice towards Idols (not playing requests), to me, is there & sadly felt. It’s the biggest tool I think Idols need & it isn’t always there.

    Biggest emphasis again imo–proper advisors w/steadfast faith in working w/that instant fame from the show & knowing how to quickly work TO IT. There is indeed that really fine line of knowing you are GOOD (nothing wrong w/that) but knowing someone has to work w/you to advance it. Sadly finding that right advisor/label isn’t always the easy part though.

  • jpfan2

    P2 currently has a 2nd hit single and a third gaining success on Triple AAA. Pure luck wears off more quickly.

  • Madilo

    Well said girly !

  • Madilo

    There’s a saying, you can build Paris with “if” lol

  • windmills

    justmefornow: How come he’s just considered lucky, but they are both considered talented, lol.

    Probably because it’s harder to dismiss multiple career-defining smash hits accumulated over 7-9 years that also received both major critical and major industry acclaim as a fluke than it is 1 huge career defining smash (that actually didn’t hit get so much industry acclaim, though IMO Home deserved more than it got). When you can make lightning strike more than once on your behalf and you prove you can still do it 7-8 years after the 1st time you did it (when you’re no longer the new hot thing and don’t have the element of surprise working for you), then I think it’s harder to argue it was just luck. Not that that’s going to stop anybody from trying!

    [I'd also extend this argument beyond hits to albums, touring, etc.]

  • Madilo

    carry on !

  • Madilo

    “Not that that’s going to stop anybody from trying!”

    this !

  • Not fit to print

    Me, too. Pehaps it should be required viewing for the Top 12. Right after the tour – a huge grain of salt. I remember Kris saying that he and his wife were being careful not to go crazy and to save their money. Not everyone is as level headed.

  • Not fit to print

    In the scheme of things Taylor has done very well but it doesn’t make sense to credit him with due diligence and others with dumb luck. Kelly, in particular, had some very tough times with her label and worked them through with perseverance and hard work. She stands where she is today as much because of he character as her enormous talent.
    Whatever you want to say about any of the winners/runners up, they all seem to have succeeded at the most important thing: making a career, however humble, out of music. Most performing artists can only dream of that.

  • justmefornow

    I’m not denying Kelly and Carrie’s talent. Or P2’s for that matter, but talent and luck go hand in hand sometimes in launching a career. And that’s the key word -“launching”.
    Once someone is a household name, it’s easier the next time for their new music to take hold…..Or not.
    Luck then maybe? Who knows.
    Sometimes it is a matter of talent, timing, circumstance and luck.
    You can’t argue that there have been just as talented contestants over the years come through Idol as these three. That’s all I’m saying.

    And, btw, I don’t favor one of them over the others. I have no horse in this race, lol. It’s just a simple observation. I don’t like any of their music, really, and wouldn’t buy any of it.
    I’m primarily a hard rock fan so none of them qualify.

  • justmefornow

    I’m not denying Kelly and Carrie’s talent. Or P2’s for that matter, but talent and luck go hand in hand sometimes in launching a career. And that’s the key word -“launching”.
    Once someone is a household name, it’s easier the next time for their new music to take hold…..Or not.
    Luck then maybe? Who knows.
    Sometimes it is a matter of talent, timing, circumstance and luck.
    You can’t argue that there have been just as talented contestants over the years come through Idol as these three. That’s all I’m saying.

    And, btw, I don’t favor one of them over the others. I have no horse in this race, lol. It’s just a simple observation. I don’t like any of their music, really, and wouldn’t buy any of it.
    I’m primarily a hard rock fan so none of them qualify.

  • Incipit

    “If the “Home” song hadn’t been written “just so” with those pauses in the lyrics (it was those pauses in the song that allowed for commentary by the media – this is documented by the way, and one reason the song was chosen) chances are it wouldn’t have been chosen to be the song at the Olympics.”

    Oh for pity’s sake. Thank you for that bit of information, seldomused!

    You answered a two year old question for me – what in the world did the Pearson/Holden lyrics have to do with women’s gymnastics? And the answer is, nothing at all. Some one with the authority to chose just liked the music, and the way the pauses allowed time for voice-over commentary.

    Fate can hang from little things like that. SMH.

  • Anny_nanny

    Well. Someone needs urgently to write a song with pauses for Candice or girls from TV, we will hold the Winter Olympics Games and I hope they will get to play for the national team hockey or curling. Has the U.S. curling team?

  • windmills

    I was specifically responding to your question of why P2 might be considered lucky when Kelly and Carrie are more celebrated for their talent by pointing out it’s easier to consider one breakout hit a lucky fluke and harder to make the lucky fluke argument when somebody’s had breakout hits that also hit on the other cylinders of industry and critical acclaim several times over, and been able to do it 7-8 years after the 1st time it happened.

    justmefornow: Once someone is a household name, it’s easier the next time for their new music to take hold…..Or not.

    Part of my point was that the follow up career-defining smashes that all got major critical and industry acclaim came several “next times” later. After the “launch” phase, after the hype had passed. After people who broke out around the same time had seen their stars fizzle out.

    Sometimes it is a matter of talent, timing, circumstance and luck.

    You left out smart decision-making by the performer, good taste, and hard work.

  • No Thanks

    “……That is the reality that sets in after the show & should to a
    degree. but w/o a drive/ego to think you can for most entertainers, it
    won’t have a chance. Few people make it to stardom w/o holding some
    successful image of themselves in mind.”

    Of course one needs to believe in themselves and their talent. But they need to understand that getting on Idol isn’t the magic bullet they like to promote themselves as. They need to understand that they will have to WORK HARD and often times seek out their own opportunities instead of waiting for the opportunities to come to them by way of simply being on Idol.

    They also need to remember that the money you get from Idol is NOT going to keep coming on a regular basis. Most people who work in the entertainment business get paid in spurts. They could get a nice paying gig and then go months without work and no pay day. So they should budget accordingly.

  • elliegrll

    They have talent and they know what the hell they are doing.

    Luck is involved, to a small extent. But for me, this is the most important thing. Ironically, just this morning I was thinking about one idol alum who has had a lot of chances to make it big, but IMO, he hasn’t been able to capitalize on those opportunities because he doesn’t know what he’s doing, who his audience is, or who he is as an artist. He has fun, and wants to entertain people, but the perception that people on the outside of the bubble have of him is holding him back. I’m sure that the see someone who looks like an amateur, and whose only claim to fame is that he was on a reality tv show.

  • elliegrll

    Everybody’s career has a shelf life, even those who didn’t appear on a reality show. That being said, the longevity that Carrie and Kelly have had proves that their success isn’t just do to being on American Idol. If that were the case, they would have flamed out long ago.

    As far as Daughtry goes, he’s still doing well. His career isn’t over yet.

  • elliegrll

    Yet people who don’t have to fall back on just being a lounge act, can make their own original music, and who draw more than 15 times the audience that he can, are where they are because of dumb luck.

  • justmefornow

    I’ll agree the jury is still out on P2’s career longevity. But I’ll give him this, coming off Idol in it’s later dying years instead of when it was a giant force in the industry, and seeing the success he’s had so far in sales and radio, is commendable, and I’m not even a fan.

    I’ll take your word for it regarding Carrie and Kelly and their smart decisions, good taste and hard work, I don’t follow them, but they can’t be the only performers from this show with those qualities, can they?
    Not everyone of those who “fizzled out” makes stupid decisions, has bad taste and is lazy, lol.

  • elliegrll

    Taylor post AI career has been very similar to Justin’s. In fact, Justin has probably done more. Justin has been in multiple plays and musicals, while Taylor has been in one. Justin has originated roles, and had starring parts, while Taylor had a bit part. Justin has been hired to as a host or correspondent on a few shows. And he’s had several film roles.

    His life and career may not be what he expected or wanted them to be, but he has had steady work, since he left American Idol, which is why it’s so hard to have any sympathy for him or his pity party. He’s had more work than a lot of people who appeared on AI.

  • justmefornow

    Feeling P2 is not as talented as Kelly or Carrie is purely subjective and perfectly fine. Some may say P2 is more talented over all as a performer, singer and guitarist, it’s all a matter of personal opinion and musical preference.

    Personally, I don’t care for any of them.

  • tripp_ncwy

    I just take this as another cautionary tail for contestants on these types of shows but in a less douche way than we got from Chris Sligh.

  • windmills

    justmefornow: I’ll take your word for it regarding Carrie and Kelly and their smart decisions, good taste and hard work, I don’t follow them, but they can’t be the only performers from this show with those qualities, can they?

    Well, Fantasia’s made a lot of smart decisions and shown great vision with respect to her music, and I think that’s really contributed to her longevity. I think she’s insanely talented too.

    justmefornow:Not everyone of those who “fizzled out” makes stupid decisions, has bad taste and is lazy, lol.

    That’s not an argument I made or implied. It’s more a matter of degrees and hitting all the attributes mentioned with as high a degree as possible.

  • seldomused

    I am not a cheerleader for any of them, either.
    When I said talented I meant SINGING talent, which is why I said they can both sing circles around P2.
    .
    I do think singing or vocal talent, while subjective, can be measured to some degree. P2 would be the first to admit (I think) that his singing voice is not on par with some of the best who have crossed the Idol stage…

  • justmefornow

    P2 reminds me more of a Springsteen or a Dylan, not great vocals, but a singer/songwriter type telling a story.
    Carrie and Kelly are more traditional power vocal type singers and not actual musicians it seems, (I don’t follow them, do they play any instruments, not sure) so this is really an apples and oranges type deal.

    But as for pure vocals, “American Idol “was never called “American Voice”, so I do think there’s a lot more to it than just the voice. Especially nowadays, you really need more than that to be successful, IMO.

  • windmills

    Carrie plays both guitar and piano, and has done both on tour.

  • Madilo

    omg you made my day Anny ! hahahaha

  • justmefornow

    Good to know. Did she perform with either of them on Idol? I didn’t watch the show back then.
    (- I’ve always wondered how non musicians write music without laying down basic chord structure. I guess this answers the question in Carrie’s case, lol.)

  • windmills

    I think Carrie played rhythm guitar on a group performance during s4. But contestants weren’t allowed to perform solo with instruments back then.

  • justmefornow

    Very Interesting.
    That might explain the infamous rise of the WGWG later perhaps?
    Maybe if they were allowed instruments from day one the earlier winners might have been different, who knows. (Not saying it would have been better or worse, just different.)

  • curlyenta

    First off Taylor’s gig in Vegas is not a “small gig” by any stretch of the imagination.
    Second, you missed my entire point about the “comparison duo” of Kelly of Carrie. I said they were one in a million who make it because of their dumb luck – being in the right place at the right time – AND being lucky to be where the head-winds were blowing at the time they won their seasons. IMO, they aren’t the best or even the most interesting as far as performers go. My tastes run quite a bit in another direction.
    My point is that other winners and a few others have equal the talent (if not more) and didn’t have the commercial success because the music they sing isn’t what is commercially viable then or now. IMO, commercial sounding music is dreck and the best singers and music come from elsewhere.

  • taptap

    JMHO but the people who use him as a ‘punchline’ usually are jealous that their favorite Idol doesn’t have customers coming to see them weekly.

    Most of those struggling artists would love to have what Taylor Hicks has, which is visibility, demand and a regular income both through his art, and through his restaurant entrepreneurship.

    He’s talented and pretty smart, and from these things he has persevered longer than most Idol alums. I don’t see him faltering. Even if one of his ventures shuts down, he’ll always have another avenue open to him..

  • taptap

    Who are these artists who can draw 15 times Taylor’s ‘lounge’ act? But make sure and multiply that amount by the weekly attendance at said ‘lounge act’ and then multiply that by the months Taylor’s been in residence at Vegas, otherwise there is a big logical fallacy in your argument.

  • http://mjsbigblog.staging.wpengine.com/ mjsbigblog

    Reminder:

    How did this thread devolve into a partisan snowflake battle? Justin Guarini is the topic.

    Taylor Hicks? Not the subject. Dragging Carrie and Kelly into the argument to prop up your fav? Practically trolling.

    Stick to the topic, please.

  • taylor

    “But I’ll give him this, coming off Idol in it’s later dying years instead of when it was a giant force in the industry, and seeing the success he’s had so far in sales and radio, is commendable…”

    Three out of the five male winners during these years have had a platinum debut album and more than one hit in their genres. P2 is just like Cook and Scotty. Let’s see what happens with the second or even third album. That’s where Kelly and Carrie separate themselves from the pack. They aren’t just keeping their contracts, they are at the top of the charts with every album and with several singles off of each album. They are also still being nominated for Grammys 8-12 years into their careers. Kelly is just coming off four Grammy nominations and winning a Grammy for Best Pop Solo Album for her fifth album! When P2 is on his fifth album, if he even gets that far with a major label, we can see how he used the opportunities he has been given to turn them into a successful long-term career…or how he failed to do so.

  • windmills

    Based only on Billboard Boxscore North American reports from 96 concerts (so leaving out 16 of Carrie’s Blown Away tour shows), Carrie sold 820,225 tickets for her Blown Away tour alone (Pollstar puts the number, including overseas dates, at 873,199 tickets sold, but that includes some estimates).

    I’m going to use that lower Billboard Boxscore North American number of 820,225 tickets sold for the sake of argument, because it divides by 175 evenly. Somebody playing a room of 175 would have to play 4,687 dates of sold out shows to equal that number, which comes out to a little bit less than 13 years of shows if that person plays 1 show a day every day.

  • taylor

    She’s probably referring to Carrie and Kelly, who the OP was comparing to Taylor in the original comment. So, yeah, they do draw more people, at higher priced tickets, to their shows.

  • windmills

    curlyyenta: It’s those who have to overcome obstacles and roadblocks that are the real winners here.

    Because it’s not like Kelly ever fought with Clive Davis over creative direction, it’s not like Carrie had to fight Arista New York and 19 to do country music in the 1st place, and it’s not like Carrie had to fight tooth and nail to prevent Arista New York from remixing Before He Cheats when it started crossing over on its own ;)

  • elliegrll

    Through out this thread Taylor has been compared to Kelly and Carrie, so that’s who I was referring to. There’s also at least one more artist who can, and has outdrawn Taylor.

    Even some of the ones who are only pulling a few hundred people to their shows can lay claim to the fact that they are doing it own their own, and based on their names and music, and are not just benefiting from playing in a casino. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it is not at the level that Carrie, Kelly and Daughtry are at.

  • elliegrll

    Kelly and Carrie haven’t had anything handed to them on a platter. They have worked their butts off. If their success was just do to luck, they wouldn’t be at the top of their genres today. Their careers would have flamed out long ago.

  • fuzzywuzzy

    “IMO, commercial sounding music is dreck and the best singers and music – especially live music – is coming from elsewhere these days.”

    Out of curiosity (and for perspective), what current artists other than Taylor do you like (buy CDs, go to concerts, stan on the internet, etc.)?

  • Eilonwy_has_an_emu

    IMO, commercial sounding music is dreck

    Srsly? Commercially viable music in every radio format and every genre is drek?

    Alternative, UAC, AAA, country, Latin, Christian, active rock… all, wall-to-wall drek? Not a single exciting musical movement or band? Not even among the indie bands who get AAA or alternative play and win Grammys?

    I thought I was an indie music snob, but you have me lapped, big time.

  • elliegrll

    Let’s not forget, it was Taylor’s choice not to work on his album during the AI tour. He still isn’t the type of singer who would have had a mainstream major label career, but he put himself in a hole by deciding to wait until the tour was over to work on his album. That didn’t endear him to many of the people at his label or 19.

    It’s all about choices. It’s true that someone can make good choices, and still not end up at the level of a Carrie or Kelly, but they should at least give themselves a chance, and not torpedo their career before it has a chance to get off of the ground.

  • curlyenta

    I would answer you, but it’s totally off topic. Let’s just say my tastes in music are eclectic and not heard on commercial radio – not that I listen to that dreck. I do see what’s played as I scan ITunes.

  • fuzzywuzzy

    OK. So there is NO music on commercial radio that is not “dreck” in your opinion? None at all? And if it’s all a matter of musical “tastes”, then I don’t understand the venom and bitterness directed towards anyone (Idol or not) who has achieved a high level of commercial AND critical success.

  • Karen C

    I’m wondering if because this show blew up so much the first season, and because the winner of this season has such massive success, if his expectation was higher than it would have been in subsequent seasons.

  • MarySue

    Even Kelly saw a HUGE slump in her career after Breakaway. I think Stronger brought her back to being a household name again.

  • taptap

    I already exempted Kelly, Carrie and Adam in my original post. I was talking about concerts in particular because Taylor is almost exclusively a live performer. I said you wouldn’t find many other Idol alums who regularly bring in numbers like Taylor does…

    And I stand by that.

  • taylor

    Oh yeah, those rough years, when she was still signed to a major label and still selling platinum albums. That one era was really rough, in 2009-2010, with three BB Top 20 hits, a platinum album and a Grammy nomination for that album. Then there was the Grammy Award fo her duet with Justin Aldean. What a terrible slump! lol

  • DragonFly

    Seasons are definitely capable of producing more than 1 Success Story, so his chances were probably just as possible then against his only 1 competition Winner…… vs. especially NOW, competing w/so many Idol Winner/Runner Ups over the seasons AND new competitive shows.

  • Karen C

    Yes, there have been successes every year, some more than one, but if he had lost to someone who had more moderate success, maybe it wouldn’t have been such an issue for Justin. Also, they didn’t know what was going to happen since it was the first year.
    .

  • ladymctech

    If Justin has felt left out of the news for a while, that all changed for him today.

  • Bugme Nomor

    When people struggle to make a living and provide for their family they tend to think about money.

  • Bugme Nomor

    Many people who bought single #2 would never have heard any songs off the album if “Home” hadn’t been catapulted onto the charts. It was the Olympics television coverage that led to radio play. i.e., exposure begat exposure

  • Bugme Nomor

    Then again, when Kelly and Carrie began their careers album sales for the entire industry were much greater than they are now.

  • Bugme Nomor

    Around that same time, Justin Bieber scored five #1 albums before his 19th birthday. Obviously then, he’s the most talented boy-man to walk the planet in decades

  • Bugme Nomor

    Would Carrie have won American Idol if she had entered when she was seven years older?

  • taylor

    I’m not sure what that has to do with a thirty year old woman, who has managed to have over a decades worth of award winning, platinum+ selling albums and multiple Pop hits. Do you realize the group that these multiple pop hits places Kelly in?

    Most Successful Females on Pop from 1973-Present:

    Most Top 20 Pop Hits- Female
    Madonna: 48
    Mariah Carey: 31
    Janet Jackson: 29
    Rihanna: 29 (includes “Right Now”)
    Whitney Houston: 22
    Britney Spears: 21
    Pink: 21
    Olivia Newton-John: 19
    Christina Aguilera: 18
    Linda Ronstadt: 16
    Kelly Clarkson: 16
    Donna Summer: 15
    Beyonce: 15

    Most Top 5 Pop Hits- Females
    Madonna: 33
    Janet Jackson: 22
    Mariah Carey: 18
    Rihanna: 18
    Pink: 15
    Whitney Houston: 13
    Britney Spears: 13
    Olivia Newton-John: 11
    Katy Perry: 11
    Kelly Clarkson: 10
    Donna Summer: 10
    Beyonce: 9
    Lady Gaga: 9

  • taylor

    Probably not. The AI audience like their girls young and they LOVE their older men. It helps the older demo with their tv boyfriend fantasies. A man in his older twenties is PURRFECT for the Idol demo. ;)

  • windmills

    Bugme Nomor: Then again, when Kelly and Carrie began their careers album sales for the music industry as a whole were much greater than they are now.

    I didn’t once mention Kelly and Carrie’s album sales in comparison to other Idols. In fact, I didn’t mention album sales at all except to point out to somebody else who did bring them up that I hadn’t brought them up ;)

    But since you did bring up album sales, let me point out that back when Kelly and Carrie began their careers, they each had an album (Kelly’s sophomore album Breakaway and Carrie’s debut album Some Hearts) that outperformed most or all of the rest of the market. Kelly’s Breakaway was the #3 best selling album in all genres of 2005 according to Billboard and Carrie’s Some Hearts was the best selling album in all genres in 2006. So, their sales stood out even in better selling times.

  • PinkClouds20

    Not sure what to make of this. He’s doing Broadway, so he’s not exactly poverty stricken, but if that’s not enough to feed your family, then it’s time to realize your dreams for fame and fortune didn’t come true and it’s time to get a real job. Everyone should know, by now, that American Idol and other talent shows, is just a stepping stone and a lot of hard work, luck, connections, and making the right decisions are involved. If you don’t make a hit record, get your song played on the radio and basically do nothing, you will be quickly forgotten.

    Or, he wrote the blog to get sympathy, publicity and to be in the news. Appearing on Oprah certainly helped too.