Reality Rocks - Archive

Josiah’s On Fire!

Lyndsey Parker
Reality Rocks

Perhaps not since Chris Daughtry got booted off in season 5 has an American Idol upset proven to be such a blessing in disguise. I'm of course referring to that weepy, lovable, homeless moppet, Josiah Leming.

See, most Idol semi-finalists who fail to make the top-24 cut simply leave Hollywood and fade back into obscurity faster than Randy Jackson can say, "Sorry, dawg, it's a no from me. But good lookin' out!"

However, in this fan favorite's case, his unexpected Idol exclusion has turned him into an instant national hero; a major Yahoo! Search term (he's commanding more queries than most of the actual finalists); a probable label-bidding-war target (he's already sold more albums via his MySpace page than finalist Carly Hennessy/Smithson did when she was signed to MCA); and, most recently, an Ellen DeGeneres special guest.

Yes, Josiah was just flown out to appear on this afternoon's Ellen, to perform his original ballad "To Run" (the number he crooned a cappella at his first American Idol audition, before Simon Cowell made him sing Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars" instead) as well as chat with Mrs. De Rossi herself. It was a true meeting of two America's-sweetheart minds.

Given Josiah's tendency to break into tears at the drop of a beanie skullcap and Ellen's Iggygate-instigated onstage breakdown not too long ago, I kind of expected some serious waterworks on today's episode. But instead both beloved blonde media darlings remained dry-eyed...even when Josiah discussed his mom's illness, and even when Ellen pulled an Oprah and surprised him with $8,000 worth of free musical equipment. (I sure hope Josiah can fit all that booty in his car. It might be time for him to upgrade to a nice hybrid SUV.)

Here's a little snippet from today's Ellen/Josiah conversation:

ELLEN: You never know, when one door closes...You walked away thinking, "Oh my God, now what?" And then I saw you and called and said, "People need to see you."

JOSIAH: Thank you so much....Everything happens for reason.

ELLEN: Tell people why you auditioned for Idol.

JOSIAH: Well, it definitely wasn't something that was preconceived. I hadn't planned on it for a long time. I was going through Atlanta and my mom called and she told me that the auditions where going to be in Atlanta. My mom is a big fan of the show. She has terminal cancer and I dropped out of high school and she was very disappointed; she wanted me to go to college and make something of myself. So when I dropped out it was disappointing for her and I just really want to prove to her that I'm going to be something, you know? That I can really do something with my life. So that was definitely my reason for auditioning.

ELLEN: Your motivation was because she was a big fan of Idol?

JOSIAH: Absolutely.

ELLEN: What did you think when Simon said he thought you were too confident and that it hurt you? Did you feel like you were too confident?

JOSIAH: I definitely didn't feel that way at the time, but it's hard to see. It's always easier to see looking back, and I do think I let the compliments from the first audition go to my head.  I regret that, but I went on a gut feeling...little sleep, I was emotional, of course. I promise I don't cry that much...I do not cry five times per two hours! But looking back I understand what happened, but I don't regret it. You make mistakes for a reason.

ELLEN: You made mistakes--and it brought you here.

The real Idol competition starts tonight, but it looks like Josiah has already won. Anyway, go to to watch his possibly star-making "To Run" performance, and visit Yahoo! TV to see the singers that Simon, Randy, and Paula deemed more deserving than Josiah of a spot in Idol's top 24.

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