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Friday, May 02, 2008

EW.com: Aiming to Pop Castro's Balloons

Yesterday a gossip blurb was put out on Entertainment Weekly (dot.com) fuelling speculation that Jason Castro was ready to leave the show and head back home to Texas. The blurb was put in the on-line magazine by Mandi Bierly, titled, Idol Jason Castro: "ready to go home"?
"He made it through Paulagate 2008, but is American Idol's Jason Castro ready to call it quits? EW's Jessica Shaw was on the scene as the Idols rehearsed for Neil Diamond week (read her "Why Song Selection Matters" feature here) and spoke with Castro on Monday afternoon: "I'll get around to practicing," he promised her, after noting that his brother and a friend had visited over the weekend and that his Saturday meeting with Diamond had gone "really bad" because he didn't yet know his songs. "What happens happens. I'll sing and if people like it, they like it. And if they don't, they don't. I'm kind of ready to go home."

You're kind of ready to walk off America's biggest stage???

"It's been overwhelming," Castro continued. "I got 150 balloons yesterday delivered to the studio because people heard I was sick last week. That's cool, but that's just weird."

The conversation was to have taken place during the Idol rehearsals on Monday. Mind you, the show was to air Tuesday night. Ms. Mandi's Spin just put out yesterday, Thursday and taken third person, in pieces, from Jessica Shaw's entire article. Take into consideration that the show filmed Castro in the rehearsal room on Saturday, the day the Idols met with Neil Diamond. Song choices had just been recently finalized shortly prior to that day. Considering that and the fact that Castro had not been a fan of Neil's nor knew his music, it understandable he did not have all the lyrics in place yet.

Also consider Brooke White's lyric history of missteps on performance nights - she's forgotten her lyrics twice, live. (Perhaps later on Wayne Brady will have her on the show.) Look at the fact that David Archuleta, the kid the show initially thought to be their big win this season, has flubbed his lyrics a handful of times. Of course, when Little Archie forgets the lyrics, the judges forget to comment about it. The fact Jason did not have all his words in order during the day he met with Diamond not an important point. This is just another glaring example of ways in which the show tries to slant the angles, impair viewers' attitudes.

Importantly, regarding this blurb, why bring this up when in Jessica Shaw's article written previous to Mandi's, 'American Idol': How the Top 5 Picked Their Songs already covered it? Difference, Ms. Shaw also wrote about Castro's nerves about the week as well as his faltering confidence in himself with the pressure the contestants are all under as the show wraps up the season. Man, it's only natural the guy perhaps longing for home in some regards. I'm sure he's not alone.

Jason has been feeling the increasing pressure competing in this reality show and he's not as stupid as the producers would prefer we viewers think he is. He knows he's up against contestants with years more experience than he. He doesn't have an album already out, he's never performed on any other singing competition. All of his competitors can claim one those achievements on their resumes. Jason was simply expressing his insecurities, Jason had said to Jessica Shaw, "It's a fact that I have a weaker voice than the rest.". What needs pointing out to Jason, and the vocal coach, Byrd does just that - many people like his voice, enjoy his singing.

Oviously, I do, I'm more of a Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Tom Waits, Jack Johnson, Ben Harper afficiando than any performer in the Pop music industry. Jason falls into that niche. Castro is one of the first contestant to be on this show to bring this type of appeal, he possesses a unique, recognizable, definable quirky type of vocal not of the 'usual suspect' category. I like him for that.

Jason Castro might very well be at a point in this show thinking, "Man, what am I doing here?" Ms. Byrd, the vocal coach has given him a mantra to say to himself to try and ease his self-doubts. Likely Jason Castro says it accompanied with self-conscious eye rolling, "People love to hear me sing. People love to hear me sing". Jason is a gentle, funny guy with more intelligence than this show is wanting to portray him as possessing. Keep in mind, Jason was selected with diversity in mind, diversity the show's producers shoot for in casting.

Imagine someone like Jason, coming from the small towns of Rowlett and Rockwall. He comes out and looks at the sea of faces in the studio, he sees celebrities in attendance, folks he watched on television. He enters that stage knowing millions of people are scrutinizing everything about him. He's meeting older, seasoned, big named singers, stars. He can't help but acknowledge the experience behind Little David, behind Syesha, behind David Cook. It has to be almost a crushing feeling at times - especially as the show comes down to the wire.

It's only being real, to understand how Jason might think he's out of his league, at least he's honestly acknowledging he's feeling overwhelmed. Seriously, Jason Castro, might truly be the ultimate in underdogs perhaps in the history of this show. He's got a natural, wonderful talent, but lacks any musical training, being self taught, like Taylor Hicks was. Thing is, Jason has not, by virtue of his young age, had the benefit of the experience that benefited Hicks. Castro's experience has been limited to performing in front of crowds from behind a drum kit. Then too, those crowds smaller, local Dallas venues. He's sang in his home church a few times as well. What we are seeing on this reality series is finally, there is a contestant who once again, is actually new to this industry, someone who holds mass appeal, a reminder to the first year and what we saw in the first Idol, Kelly Clarkson.

The comments featured in that blurb issued by Mandi Bierly, from what I'm reading, have one intent in mind; feature Jason in the most negative light at one of the most delicate periods of in the show. Ms. Bierly includes the balloon-o-gram the fans from the Idol boards sent Castro in her blurb without expanding on what Castro was intending nor the full conversation he had with Jessica Shaw. Even Jessica did not elaborate on his comment. It makes a better attention getting read to leave the reader hanging. Opens speculation, draws hits and ergo, they achieve attention.

In the remarks made about the balloon-o-gram, Jason was expressing not his disdain for the fans sending the balloons, rather he was amazed that the fans went to such efforts - for him. The portion included by Ms. Bierly and Jessica Shaw, of Jason saying the balloons were "just weird" were said in context of it being overwhelming, for this budding star, that kind of heartfelt support, not that the balloons themselves were 'weird'.

Should Castro expressing his thoughts that the show was 'overwhelming' and the fact that he might be ready for a break, be taken as he wants to leave Idol at this point? Absolutely not, Jason was simply being real. He may be experiencing feelings like written in a song by Seether, "now I'm convinced on the inside that something's wrong with me...Convinced on the inside, you're so much more than me..."

Man, he's been plugging away long days, and great pressure for several months. I'd think it only natural he would entertain thoughts getting away and going home. I'm sure all of the Idols have had those thoughts. Who hasn't - even doing a job you enjoy - sat and thought, man, it would be great to get away, go on a trip. Personally, I love to think of Destin, Florida's white sands and emerald seas, often as a mental escape from everyday life.

The bottom line, these writers did not have anything in mind for Castro other than attracting readers to their articles. What they have created is controversy. In writing as in politics, there are those who will slant words for a buck, for the limelight, for self-gratification. I'd think TMZ.com would appreciate their efforts.
"Truth" Seether video c/o tommo619:

"Truth" lyrics
If I gave you the truth
Would it keep you alive
Though I'm closer to wrong
I'm no further from right
And now I'm convinced on the inside that something's wrong with me
Convinced on the inside, you're so much more than me, yeah
No there's nothing you say that can salvage the lie
But I'm trying to keep my intentions disguised
And now I'm deprived of my conscience and something's got to give
Deprived of my conscience
This all belongs to me, yeah

I'm beaten down again, I belong to them
Beaten down again, I've failed you
I'm weaker now my friend, I belong to them
Beaten down again, I've failed you

The deception you show is your own parasite
Just a word of advice you can heed if you like
And now I'm convinced on the inside that something's wrong with me
Convinced on the inside you're so much more than me, yeah
I'm beaten down"

Let it be known, Jason Castro needs the support now more than he ever has before to overcome the press this show is going to back. Don't let the negative commentaries that will now be circulating media to sway your heart about this guy's talent. Look at him, listen to him, you'll know "The Truth" about Castro.


  1. Anonymous12:57 PM

    Thank you so much for writing this article!! It is often depressing and disheartening to read and hear all the half-truths and the lies that are being told about Jason right now. Most of all, "so-called" reports from Fox, the judges, and now EW.com... The viewing public is literally being bombarded with these negative messages. As a loyal viewer, I have never seen the show from "this side." And I am completely sickened by it. But, it only leads me to support Jason even more knowing that he has to do all this in front of the public. And it just makes me appreciate how truly courageous he really is.

  2. Beautifully written, and perfectly insightful. Exactly what so many of us feel about Jason. Regardless of the outcome that the evil machinations of the American Idol juggernaut produce, I know that the purity of spirit and genuine talent this man posesses will emerge victorious in the end.

    I plan on being a Jason Castro fan for years to come, and Lord knows there are enough like me out there to counteract all the negativity he's receiving. I just hope he knows it. Kudos to you, Sunny, for "getting" it...and more importantly, for SAYING it so eloquently!!

  3. Very observant post. I agree with everything you've said.

    One thing you did not point out is that in addition to being the true amateur in the competition, without the experience to fall back on, and the overwhelming exhaustion he's experiencing, he's also dealing with the open hostility of the AI staff. Randy Jackson has been openly negative toward Jason for a long time, and this week he was forced to understand that even Paula, his most staunch supporter of the three judges, seems to have been instructed to find fault with him. Add to this the way he's being portrayed off the stage by the AI PTB and the poor kid has to be having moments of pure despair. I only hope that he's remained insulated from the poison that is out there.

    Whatever happens, my dearest hope is that Jason emerges from this experience uncorrupted. On Tuesday night, when he looked so defeated during his performance of "September Morn," I truly worried for his pyschological wellbeing. How much can any one kid be expected to take?

    After this season - my very first - my Idol watching days are over. I can't bear to watch the Idol machine run over another talented kid the way they've done with Jason. Too bad for Idol given I'm in their dream demographic and the one that is plummeting.

  4. Thank you so much for coming to Jason's defense. I believe all of this Jason-bashing is due to the major AI blunder (Paulagate) controversy and they are trying to redirect it onto Jason. Please, please send your article to as many reputable news organizations as you can! There needs to be a little balanced journalism here. God Bless You and God Bless Jason!

  5. Anonymous3:55 PM

    Thank you so much! When I read that blog, I knew it was taken out of context. Wednesday's Results show proves that Jason is happy to be there. He was so good on the group song, looked like he was having fun, his smile when he found out he was safe, and the rock on sign- all proof that Jason is in it to win it.

  6. Anonymous5:03 PM

    Thank you for writing these words. This is insightful and inspiring. I am moved now, more than ever, to throw all of my support behind Jason Castro.
    Aside from all the things that you already mentioned, I wanted to point out that Jason was the only finalist who had less than one minute of actual airtime on any episode of American Idol leading up to the Top 24 show.
    He is the epitome of an underdog and I will be voting like mad for him on Tuesday night!

  7. Anonymous6:12 PM

    Thank You for this blog. I am heartsick thinking about all these vipers on that humble sweet talented young man. Twisting his words, attacking his character, his work ethic and his desire. I am sure he signed up for non of this. Jason said early on that all he wants to do is sing. Yet the one thing he loves singig has been bashed when he was stellar. Why I thought is AI doing this. Surly they hear his gift of song. Tuesday it dawn on me, the manipulation must not be working and Jason must be getting so many votes he is a threat. A threat too AI's desired finale. If the judges ant final say, then change the format. Jason clearly has won the hearts and votes of many people, young and old and all ages inbetween. Jason has star written all over him. So why not just let the people choose. Know what AI PTB maybe we know better than you as to what will sell and what won't. Your track record is not that great. Jason with the right label and production will outsell all of the remaining three. Why because that is how vast a demographic he appeals to. Your being short sighted AI, very short sighted.

  8. Beautifully written. The article you referred to made me so sad and angry. I knew it was taken out of context. The media and the AI machine are doing every thing in their power to get Jason off the show. Why put him in the competition if they were just going to treat him so shabby. He is a beautiful soul with a gorgeous voice and I will be voting like a mad woman again this week. I don't know how some people sleep at night.

  9. Man, it warms my heart seeing all the support pouring forth for Castro. You see, folks, this is the week the show plans to oust him. They're gearing for that final 3 to include a gal, Syesha. The Double Dave Extravaganza was already a done deal weeks ago. I'd love to see that situation changed.

    This week we who support Castro must vote constantly the allocated time. It has to be such support the show cannot deny it.

    It is possible to change this outcome. This guy is a great reason to work to do it. Final two of Cook and Castro would work for me.

    When I checked my stats, over 9 thousand folks hit this site today. That is incredible. Sites I put the article out on such as Dig, Technorati and a few others are having great big results (more so than even here) - that shows me that people care a great deal about Jason.

  10. Anonymous7:36 PM

    WONDERFULLY said! Bravo! Vote Jason!

    Keep the bottom three, Castro-free!

  11. I do wonder if finishing say fourth or third might be way better for him than actually winning on the thing though.
    I can't imagine him singing the "single" they write for the winner without cringing.

  12. Chance, it's not for you or I to 'imagine' his singing it, point is he should have the ability to sing it.

    No matter what Pop Pablum is written for Castro to sing, he will make it his own and I'm sure, improve it.

    Man, I'm going to do what I can to help make it happen for him. Time is this week for his fans to really be serious regarding showing support and not embarrassing him.
    Thanks for stopping by - your manners are always perfect. I appreciate your indulging me with my favorites.

  13. Anonymous8:06 AM

    Another point is that during the Andrew Lloyd Weber week we have now learned that Jason was extremely ill. To the point of needing IV's. Much was made of his "yawning" during the show..but there was no mention of his performing in ill health. Yet, when others had been sick...Paula was the first person to commend them on their "courage" for performing while sick.
    I also wonder why when ET decided to expand the short piece on a contestant into a larger article...why only Jason and why so negative? If you read the longer article you see there is a segment about each contestant. But only Jason got the royal (screw job) treatment.
    One other thing...I think the whole thing is a little fishy about Paula's so-called notes. In 7 seasons have you ever heard Paula begin a comment about a performance without first puffing them up in some way? I mean...even after Amanda butchered
    Kansas' Wayward Son...Paula was still able to come up with nice comments. Jason is the first person in 7 seasons that Paula's mind went blank on regarding looks, personality or a color of the rainbow?
    As an aside...I personally enjoyed the way that Simon did not even attempt to stop Paula from making a fool of herself. Did you all see that little self-satisfied smirk on his face? Shoot...if Randy hadn't of (finally) shut her up we still might be listening to her incessant blather about absolutely nothing!

  14. Paula was the most out of it we've seen all season. Perhaps a little conscience was the issue, it's been pretty blatant the past few weeks the show was setting him up. She was to put the nail in his proverbial go-home wagon.

    Frankly I think 'karma' is stepping in, and the show is now getting the speculation and treatment deserved. The manipulations grow ever more apparent and with Paula's gaffe, especially so this past week.

    Their ignoring Jason being sick and on IV prior to and following his performance during ALW week inexcusable. They have always mentioned when one of the contestants were ill.

    It makes me wonder how he's being treated backstage. I had an email telling me that he's not been receiving the same kind of treatment lately as the others.

  15. hwy66gal12:40 PM

    Great insight O Sunny One. You are on target and they're reading you. This blog is on Idolforums, IMBD, the Aggie's forum, rickey.org, facebook, John Rich's blog, you are everywhere.

    So much for taking it easy this season. I'm power-voting for Castro this week 100 per cent. Cook will have to survive on his own.

    SAVE Castro!

  16. You know EW.com is the 'go to' on-line the show likes to use. Nice save regarding what they're trying to do to Castro.

    I'm voting this week for him.

  17. Anonymous5:02 PM

    Television Without Pity how I found you. Great assessment on the EW story.

  18. Anonymous10:51 PM

    I seriously love this article. If only we could print this out and throw flyers containing this article in the streets of LA or even America. When will they ever comprehend Jason?

  19. I haven't been voting this year, but after seeing the way that AI is clearly trying to get Jason off the show, I'm going to vote for him from now on.

    I don't expect my votes to help him overcome the fan bases for the Davids, and frankly I'm not sure it would be a good thing for him to win. If he did, he would get the same glaring lack of support and promotion that Taylor got. But I'd love to throw a scare into the producers while showing them that many of us out here love Jason's voice and Jason's style.

    I'm a little tired of the power-note singers that AI prefers. Give me the quiet passion with which Jason sings. I always feel that he understands and feels the emotions of his songs.

  20. Hi murly, so glad you're jumping on the Dreadhead bandwagon, or perhaps buss, as the MyIdol site prefers.

    He's deserving of the support, glad that I'm hearing so many advocating his staying on the show. Regarding the Double Dave Extravaganza planned, you never know, you never know.

    Thanks for posting your support.