Sometimes it is good to be an American Idol finalist that people had counted out. After sitting out most of Season Nine of American Idol, I came back on board last year with the advent of new judges Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. Even with the disappointing treatment that third place Haley Reinhart received from the judges for not conforming to their expectations, I got sucked in again this year for Season Eleven, only to lose interest once they reached the Semi-Final rounds. One of the few sparks for me was Phillip Phillips’s Dave Matthew-esque take on more contemporary fare. By the time the show got down to the Final Three (Phillips, Jessica Sanchez and Joshua Ledet), I was back on board and loving all three. I braced myself for horrible final songs, and Sanchez didn’t disappoint with her bizarre “Change Nothing.” And then the unthinkable happened…Phillip Phillips got a decent song. “Home” is the first Idol download I’ve purchased since David Cook triumphed in Season Eight, and its Coldplay meets Mumford and Sons vibe has lodged itself in my head randomly over the past two months.
“Home” instantly shot to number one on iTunes and debuted at number ten on the Billboard Hot 100, but enthusiasm died after a couple of weeks. That enthusiasm returned during the 2012 Olympics, as NBC used his coronation song as the theme music for the now Gold-winning US Women’s Gymnastics team. “Home” currently finds itself back at home on top of the iTunes Singles chart, guaranteeing it will make a strong return to the upper half of the Hot 100 after re-entering at number 84 this week. Seeing that they have momentum at their backs, 19 Recordings decided to finally release the video for “Home.” It’s nothing exciting, which might explain why they didn’t bother releasing it, but it’s got some great scenery.
Someone who has taken a lot longer to finally break through is Season Six finalist Chris Richardson. We’ve been beating the drum for Chris pretty hard for a while now, but things have finally kicked into gear with the release of his first official single on Cash Money Records. Chris hit the Hot 100 last year singing the hook on rapper Tyga’s “Far Away,” and now Tyga is returning the favor by dropping a verse on the intro to “Joy and Pain,” a track that precedes his full-length debut later in 2012. “Joy and Pain” is very of-the-moment in sound and structure, and Chris sounds like he’s having fun with the track. The Tyga rap feels like an add-on rather than part of the song, but it doesn’t take much to picture this fitting in to current Top 40 and R&B radio station playlists. While I prefer some of his self-released tracks, “Joy and Pain” is not a bad way to introduce Chris to a wider audience.
Phillip Phillips’s “Home” is available on digital single now in the US. Chris Richardson’s “Joy and Pain” doesn’t have a release date yet, but he tweeted on July 29th “#JoyandPain cover art almost done. Radio add date is close. Hope y’all Are ready, cause I am.”