James Durbin teaching Heavy Metal Concert 101 on American Idol 2011?
American Idol, the television series, has a massive following in the United States and viewers are from a broad range demographic. James Durbin is teaching everyone Heavy Metal Concert 101 and rock music fan or not, it sure is hard not to like him. While only a small number of people watching the show have probably every been to a real heavy metal rock concert, as former Gen X head banger whose life partner is a Baby Boomer who has seen nearly every hit band and major rock star of note since the 1960s one thing was clear from our view-point. Durbin rocks the house not because of his raw talent but because he has studied his rock music history. That’s our theory — the kid with the faux hawk is actually *gasp* an ACADEMIC.
Confused? Don’t be.
Pay attention to all the little things James Durbin does on stage to involve and excite the live audience before, during, and after a song –
- from the way he moves around and makes eye contact with his audience (even though really he is simply frying his retinas being blinded by the stage lights)
- by the way he makes sure every corner of the stage gets a visit and that he takes advantage of strategically placed higher vantage points on and around the stage to elevate himself… done not to put the spotlight on his greatness but to give a better view to the audience in the back and to bring himself one step closer to the balcony crowd
- how he will point and wink at random sections of the audience — he’s like Hillary Clinton in leather and chains, making sure that everyone knows he is both a real person and willing to connect with those little people who support him
- he ignores the judges except to occasionally flash them a sly smile while singing to amuse them — but will turn his head away on a dime to acknowledge someone who shouts out or waves a sign in his honor somewhere out in the crowd
- Durbin will always make time to personally recognize a child or youngster who is there for a handshake, fist bump, or autograph and his demeanor goes from crazy hard screamer to a confident and cuddly version of the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz right after he got his bravery medal and self-confidence
- As a competitor, he cares more about putting on a good show not only for the TV audience and celebrity judges but more for the very real live audience — and even if they never listened to a note of Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Rush, Led Zepplin, or even Aerosmith (judge Steven Tyler’s band) in real life they are totally responsive and moved by Durbin’s charisma and professional enthusiasm
James Durbin has got a wicked good rock voice for sure and there is not doubt he will get a recording contract somewhere win or lose. The only thing that might hold him back is the lack of a band good enough to back him.
Fortunately for him, the American Idol staff and judges seems to already know what Heavy Metal fans intuitively understand already — that the toughest thing for James Durbin is going to be finding the right musicians to play with, as he is such a perfectionist (in the best of ways) and so fricking good at what he does as a singer that even the most seasoned rock musicians seem to fade a bit with the real star being…
Durbin, DuRbiN, DURBIN!
Rock on, young man — and thank you to the American Idol judges for letting this star shine on what otherwise has always been a traditional pop music top 40 hit finder.
While James Durbin might not win, he is already a rock star in this writers humble opinion.
Let’s just hope he will be the opening act for a big name headliner like Ozzy Osbourne, the Rolling Stones, or even Aerosmith that can pump up the audience at a rock arena near us someday soon. We have teenagers of our own we’d love to take to see him so we can teach them what an old school rock concert used to be about.
It seems to us that kid has a lot of Steven Tyler (of Aerosmith), Rob Halford (from Judas Priest), Bruce Dickenson (of Iron Maiden), Robert Plant (from Led Zepplin), and Mick Jagger(of The Rolling Stones) in him. [He might even have a little Tina Turner and Kiss thrown in there for good measure but tempered with the machismo of Metallica and the light-hearted humor of DLR (David Lee Roth of Van Halen before Sammy Hagar took over lead vocals and the bands nickname changed to VanHagar, of course.]
But again, we digress — the point America needs to know is that we have a sneaking suspicion that is because he studied his rock music history like an academic student takes a course in college, falls in love with a genre, and elects to pursue the subject and topic with reckless [and sometimes feckless] abandon as a major.
Not only did young James Durbin listen to the lyrics and the killer rifts of classic rock and figure out how to mimic the greats of rock music history, he took things a step further. First he learned how to belt out Heavy Metal tones that raise the hair on your arms, peel the skin off your face, and curl your toes and then he watched how the lead singers actually honored the band while working the crowd. And he studied hard, which is why you will see that although he is just a singer that physically he emulates every physical action of the stage perfromance and arena rock greats from the way he holds a mike to the angle of his back bends to the gimme gimme wiggle finger moves when he is paying homage to whomever is doing a solo on the lead guitar.
You see, that is the deep dark secret about Heavy Metal rock music the common person might not know — that it is the band’s interaction with the crowd that makes Heavy Metal what it is and always has been now. Once you realize that the way rock and roll lures you in is not with the songs or the words — it is a from of communal religion of inclusion.
Rock and Roll may steal your soul by inviting you in and taking away all your worries and cares. You can be a misfit and fit right in. You can be born to be wild (or mild) and you are accepted as a part of all that is.
Scream along at the top of your lungs and dance by yourself in the aisles. Can’t sing? Can’t dance? It doesn’t matter.
Because most truly great rock and roll musicians can’t really sing or dance either.
What they do on stage is let their soul leak out through their bones. Once their insides spill out and engulf the crowd, it is only a matter of assimilation for a truly great singer to become a part of them… a trick James Durbin appears to already know.
He’s like the Borg, only using old-fashioned glad handing and acoustics instead of Star Trek gadgets to win.
The boy with the goofy ears and getting a little thick already around the middle knows that whether he takes to the stage from a dark aisle in the back of a theater or comes blasting out like Hulk Hogan though a stage set designed to give him every bit of a professional wrestler’s flair and pizzazz to make a dramatic entrance that he will — if he has to all professional levels of technical specification — rip the hearts out of the crowd.
Granted, after taking a big bite of their live and bleeding heart in order to Grok and bond he will give it back and suture them up with some kind words and one of those darling wink wink, point point, nod nod and “yeah, you caught my attention” shout outs — but still…
James Durbin is teaching Americans who are watching American Idol what the essence of Heavy Metal Concerts 101 is all about, and when it comes to studying music history and stage theatrics, this boy’s hands are never idol.
And you want to know the coolest thing?
James Durbin is a green celebrity. He perfroms as well as he does despite (and because of the fact) he was himself an at-risk kid diagnosed with Aspergers (a high functioning from of Autism) and Tourettes Syndrome (a blurting disorder) after the untimely death of his father when he was just a young child.
Way to go, James.
You’ve got a big handful of fans of all ages out here rooting for ya to keep on rockin’ no matter what the outcome might be for you in Hollywood on American Idol, winner or #winning — whichever way the show votes turn out.