In the early weeks of this season of American Idol, I blogged about Chris Medina, a barista from Chicago who, during his audition, shared one of the show's sadder sob stories. Two weeks before he and his fiancée were scheduled to be married, she sustained a very serious traumatic brain injury in a car accident. While they were never married, Chris has remained her caregiver, and he brought Juliana to his audition.
Many critics and viewers (myself included) questioned whether the judges' decision to bring Juliana into the audition room following Chris' performance was emotional exploitation for ratings' sake or whether it seemed appropriate. Many also wondered whether Chris was being judged on his talent or simly the strong character he has shown in caring for Juliana when she might not always know he is there. Chris' performances during the show weren't exceptional, and some worried that he might take the spot of a more deserving singer because of his story.
Chris was cut just before the top 24 was named, and Jennifer Lopez had a near-emotional breakdown when she told him. So of course, given that the audition shows were filmed prior to the season's live beginning, one would have to wonder why it was so important to make hay of Chris and Juliana's tragedy.
Interestingly enough, 19 Entertainment, the record company that produces the winner and runner-up's albums, and has an option on all contestants, released Chris' first single, What Are Words, this week. While the lyrics and the "official" music video (which you can find on YouTube) are clearly tied to Chris and Juliana's story, what impresses me is his voice. Granted, this is a produced single, but the quality of Chris' voice is quite good here, and I wish that I had seen glimpses of this talent during the audition weeks.
Take a listen. Maybe he will have a successful career after all. I know I'll be listening, and rooting for him and Juliana.