(Photo swiped via Google search)
Two weeks ago Charlie Askew was on top of the world. The crowd went wild after his amazing performance of Elton John’s “Rocket Man.”
Check it out: Charlie Askew: ROCKET MAN
Charlie had it all, the looks, the talent and the charisma. I was so sure he’d go a lot longer than his 7:01 minutes of fame.
Then he blew it. Not intentionally. My take is he’s still young and he didn’t quite get it. He nailed it and simply failed to keep up the momentum. His version of “Mama” by Genesis didn’t do his talent justice. It wasn’t bad, but just not his best. He also changed his style, seeming to go for something a little less innocent, less subdued, and it just didn’t work in his favor, certainly not in the eyes of judge Nicki Minaj who felt she “lost” her “little boy.” Seems Minaj (and Charlie’s fans) were resonating with his “awkward turtle” (his words) look, sweet eyes peering behind gorgeous locks of hair; and over-sized clothes. It all added to his charm.
Here’s Charlie’s weaker performance: Charlie Askew Performs “Mama”
What really killed it for Charlie was his reaction to the judge’s criticism, which was scary. He was obviously very troubled as he didn’t seem to handle the rejection very well and my heart bled for him — truly. I thought he was going to have a nervous breakdown right on the spot. I felt shocked and scared for him. And of course, sad because I knew deep down he wasn’t going to make it to one of the Top 10.
Which brings me to the question is American Idol exploiting young people? I mean, in the early stages, when talent is chosen some of these contestants go on as fools, knowing they are fools and laugh about it. Others seem so clueless about their talent (or lack of) get pissed off at the judges and mouth off to the cameras. Some take the critiques with class and learn from them, which of course is the most positive reaction. I’ve learned from my writing career that it’s best to thank an editor for his critique and learn from it and that’s what I always do. But these young people don’t always know to do that. They are not taught, which is sad. Learning to accept criticism should be a class in grade school. Criticism doesn’t mean you’re not good. It’s just a creative suggestion to help you. And in some cases, it’s not even the right suggestion, just the right suggestion for what a client, or a judge or a potential boss is seeking.
My suggestion to American Idol is to be a little more strict in the screening process. In addition to making sure a young man or lady has some talent, maybe a quick psychological study to show that he/she is ready for this.
Even on America’s Next Top Model, Tyra Banks and judges weed out the ones who they feel are not ready for the industry, no matter how many great photos they take.
While Charlie Askew was my favorite this year, I have to be honest and say that while I felt bad to see him go, I was secretly relieved because I didn’t want to see this poor kid unravel any further. That would truly be a train wreck and I mean that in the most sincere way possible. Just imagine, if Charlie hit superstar status prematurely, one bad CD review and he might go Kurt Cobain on us.
My biggest wish for Charlie is that he get his bearings together and comes back — bigger and better than ever!
Advice to Charlie, if you’re reading:
1. Grow a thicker skin. I know it’s not easy, but once you have that break-through you will move mountains! Little me has been there too — insecure, hurt by comments of others, using the critique of others to measure my worth — that can all change with some hard work and self realization. Baby steps are indeed steps and you WILL get there. We believe in you, Charlie!
2. Don’t take it all so seriously. You ARE talented! Just believe in yourself and don’t ever give up! This was just ONE contest. You’re young. There will be many more. It’s a whole big world out there. American Idol is not the end all!
3. Don’t ever hide that beautiful hair again! I think your fans would agree with me. No more ponytails, okay?