While American Idol fans across the country count down the weeks to the coronation of the newest pop-star pinup this month, Philadelphians watch with broken hearts. Even after our city hosted Idol auditions (for the first time in the show’s seven-year history), not one local out of the 20,000 who auditioned at the Wachovia Center squeaked past Randy, Paula and Simon to make it to the Top 24.
Bypassed Idol glory is something of a trend for us. Since the show’s debut, only four locals have made it as far as the semis. And two of those four have proved as dispensable as Simon’s black tees. Philadelphia’s Nicole Tranquillo and Point Pleasant’s Antonella Barba (both from Season 6) quietly returned to school after getting the boot. Tranquillo still has her local hip hop/R&B band, Soul School; Barba still has, well, those Internet pictures.
Doylestown’s Justin Guarini (Season 1) and pride of Neshaminy High Anthony Fedorov (Season 4) — who lost at the heels of eventual Idol all-stars Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, respectfully and respectively — fared better: Guarini made it to the finale, and Fedorov cracked the Top 4. For them, the show opened doors. While neither is opening for Bon Jovi (like famed Season 5 fourth-place finisher Chris Daughtry), they’re not serving sundaes at TGI Friday’s, either. “The exposure alone was worth its weight. It would have taken me years to achieve what I did in that summer,” says Guarini, who is working on his third album, hosts a TV Guide Channel show and blogs for Comcast. Fedorov, now touring with a Debbie Reynolds dance spectacular, agrees. “Every performer, every singer, dreams of a chance — that one-in-a-billion chance. That small window you can slip into somehow,” he says. “Without the show, I wouldn’t have had that chance.”
Hoofing with Debbie? Blogging for Comcast? Okay, not exactly the same as climbing the Billboard charts. But look at it this way: We’ll always have Jill Scott.