Tuesday, April 5, 2016

What American Idol Has Meant to Me

Watching the American Idol Farewell Special with Granny tonight, I got goosebumps and held back tears. Yes I'm super emotional this week, but I know I'd be emotional anyway. This is the end of an ERA! Seeing Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini talk about their Idol journey and how they basically improv-ed most of that first season, and watching the video of that moment when Kelly won... I remember being 13 years old with bushy eyebrows and frizzy hair and watching that season one finale in my parents' living room on the couch and thinking "This is so cool! Why haven't I watched this all season?!?" And from then on, as I watched with goosebumps as Kelly Clarkson sing "A Moment Like This," I was determined to watch the next season. I was hooked. 
2002. 
One of the most pivotal years of my life. 
I was ending my first year at Southwest Middle School. My first year at public school. It had been a hard year. I didn't have many friends. I had NOT adjusted well. I was painfully shy and quiet. I wore the same thing every day. I didn't know how to do my makeup. But I could feel change coming. 

Season two came in January of 2003. I was in eighth grade with better eyebrows and hair and now I had friends and was absolutely loving Southwest and my new life. I fell in love with Josh Gracin and Clay Aiken. WHEW! And Clay was from North Carolina!! I remember watching the show and being so excited to go to school the next day and see what my friends thought about what everyone sang and who they wanted to win. My friend Holly and I loved Josh Gracin and still think of him and Idol and eighth grade every time we hear "Baby I Need Your Loving" or "To Love Somebody" by the Bee Gees (Josh's farewell song on the show).  
[I went with Holly two days ago to pick out bridesmaid dresses for her wedding that I'm honored to be a part of this summer.] 
After Josh was off the show, I was 100% Clay Aiken. I sobbed when he didn't win. The votes were so close. I had been nervous that whole week. We had end of grade testing that week at SW and my mom had taken my brother and me to Sanibels and Libby Hill to eat seafood every night (brain food for the tests). 
I had called and voted for Clay Aiken for the whole two hours after the show the night before, on my cordless Vtech phone (I had my own house phone line lolol).
The day after Clay didn't win, I wore all black to school, in mourning. 
American Idol was a HUGE part of one of the most pivotal and transitional, memorable times of my entire life. 

Since then I've been watching the show. Some seasons more than others. It was always fun to watch the terrible auditions and cool to see the really good people go from auditions to finales. It was fun to watch with my family and be texting my friends who were watching it at their houses and talk about what was going on.

My hometown of High Point became involved in the third season because of Fantasia Barrino, which was so cool! The show just kept meaning more and more to me. Having someone from my hometown WIN American Idol made it more real. So neat.

Carrie Underwood made me fall in love with country music and Rascal Flatts, even a year after her stint on Idol. In 2006, they showed flashbacks of her singing "Bless the Broken Road" and someone else using that song as their audition song and that launched my quest to know and own all songs Rascal Flatts, which launched me into country music completely, which changed my life. 2006 was another pivotal year and one of the most memorable and life-changing yet. 

Idol seemed to be a trend in those monumental years. It was always there.

In 2011, my great friend Ashley and I fell in love with lil Scotty McCreery, also from NC, and ended up going to Raleigh for his birthday concert after he had won the show. We made so many wonderful memories that year bonding over Scotty.

In 2013, one of my wildest dreams came true. I got to go to an American Idol FINALE. TEN years after my most precious memories of watching the 2003 finale with Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard in my parents' cozy den. A decade later, I watched the finale 3,000 miles away, in the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, California. My roommate and sorority sister Kacie and I had been on Venice Beach all day in casual clothing and my lifelong BFF Chanelle (who we were out in Cali visiting) had texted me from work saying she had been offered free tickets to the finale. Kacie and I called a cab and tried to get presentable on the ride from Santa Monica to the middle of LA. 
[We had been to an American Idol taping for the finale the night before with Chanelle, but that just consisted of watching Mariah Carey be a diva and sing the same song a million times.] 
The excitement I felt was unreal. I was on top of the world, and besides being bummed about going to American Idol and being in the same room as gorgeous Ryan Seacrest looking like a bum, I felt like I was walking on air. What an opportunity!!! My mind raced back over the past ten years and it felt so crazy be THERE, at the show I'd been watching on tv for the past decade.Since middle school. Now I was a grad student at Appalachian State University. I had watched the whole season that year with Granny and Ashley, from the beginning. So I was really invested in that one, and that made it all the more special. I only had one class in Boone that semester, and one in Winston, so I was always in High Point to watch American Idol with Granny. It was just something we did together. We would get pizza or Cookout and the three of us would watch Idol together. And I got to see the finale in person. It was the most amazing experience... so surreal. Larger than life. One of the most exciting nights of my life thus far. I remember posting the picture of the stage on Facebook and just feeling so awesome. LA was great. It made everything that I had known through a screen before become real. 

I never got into The Voice. Or X-Factor. Or any other singing show. American Idol is it. I don't even watch tv - that was pretty much the only thing I've watched in the past 14 years. And Dancing With the Stars. When people ask me about watching tv, I always say "I watch American Idol and that's about it." (We won't talk about the Kardashians).
Y'all know how I feel about tv. A show has to be extra special for me to watch it. It has to be one that doesn't feel like a waste of time to me. Idol was never a waste of time. It was something I could share with my mom and dad. We laughed so hard at the terrible auditions. It was something that brought my friends and I closer. It wasn't just a tv show to me, and that's why I watched it. You can't do that with just any show.

The end of an era. American Idol is ending and it feels like a chapter of my own life is ending with it. I know that's dramatic and cheesy but THAT'S HOW I FEEL RIGHT NOW!!! LOL 
Granny and I plan on watching the final two nights together. The finale is Thursday, which happens to be Granny's 86th birthday. We will watch the finale together on her birthday, and I can't think of any more fitting way to remember watching the very last American Idol finale.

Thank you, FOX. <3











eBa


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*I couldn't hold the tears back for long - I started writing this while watching the show, and when it was over I left Granny's and no sooner had I walked out the front door, I burst into tears and cried the whole way home. I felt like the lamest darn person in the world. Dang hormones.*

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