The Most Troubled ’American Idol’ Alums

Lyndsey Parker, in her music blog Reality Rocs, shares a sad but-not-unexpected post about American Idol alums and their post-AI problems: Idol Hands, The Devil’s Playthings: The Most Troubled AI Alums. While most AI fans worry about who will replace Simon and Ellen, many AI alums are worrying about their lives—or at least they should be. 

Parker highlights Fantasia Barino, the American Idol Season 3 winner who went on to sell millions of records and earn eight Grammy nominations. Barrino’s autobiography, Life Is Not a Fairytale tells how things went awry for the 26 year-old: surrounded by scandal, accused in divorce court papers of breaking up a marriage, and then hospitalized this past Monday for overdosing on medication.

As Parker explains: 

“Thankfully, Fantasia’s overdose was not life-threatening, but she’s still proof that the Idol fairytale doesn’t automatically lead to a happy ending. The Cinderella story behind the show is that once singers perform on what is arguably America’s biggest stage, they’re set for life. But for many Idol contestants, their troubles really begin once the show is over. Here in, chronological order, are the most troubled Idol alums, all of whom have sadly failed to capitalize on the early promise of their reality fame.” 

Parker then documents the tragedies associated with AI alums Nikki McKibbin, Corey Clark, Julia DeMato, Jessica Sierra, Paula Goodspeed, Chikezie Eze, and Jesse Langseth. If comments are any indication, then the nearly-1,000 responses to Parker’s blog surely indicates our often morbid fascination with the faults and failures of the rich and famous. 

What do we make of all this? Certainly, along with Parker, we could say, as she does at the conclusion of her post, “Let’s hope all of these talented people have brighter futures ahead of them.”

But perhaps more importantly we should ask ourselves, “What causes such personal tragedies and how could they be prevented?” When we couple Parker’s report with the frequent articles about how the lives of lottery winners fall apart, we should begin to come to the same conclusion that Asaph made in Psalm 73.

Asaph, like a lot of us, was initially jealous and even perturbed (at God) when he observed the lifestyles of the rich and famous. He was baffled by the apparent prosperity of those who lived for the things of this world.

Baffled…until he entered the sanctuary of God. Until he stopped looking at life with eyeballs only, and started looking at life with spiritual eyes, with 20/20 eternal vision. Then he came to understand that fame and fortune are fleeting and superficial.

Then Asaph, like each of us, was forced to ask life’s ultimate question. “Where do I find real life, meaningful life, abundant life?”

Asaph’s answer is classic. “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you” (Psalm 73:25).

Perhaps we should view the AI alums’ fairytale as a cautionary tale. Cautioning us not to place our hope, our trust, in fame and fortune, but instead in Christ. Perhaps our conclusion should be the same as Asaph’s. “But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge” (Psalm 73:28).

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