Sunday was supposed to mark the start of this American Idol season’s live shows. But with production suspended due to coronavirus concerns and the just-announced top 20 all sent home to quarantine with their families, the rest of Season 18 is in flux.
But fans in self-quarantine still got their Idol fix this weekend, with a two-hour special called American Idol: This Is Me. “It’s Sunday, April 12, and the start of another week of staying home. Thank you for inviting us into your home for this holiday weekend,” said host Ryan Seacrest at the top of the episode, which re-introduced viewers to 10 of this season’s semifinalists.
This Is Me also served as a handy primer for people who are just starting to tune in to Idol, now that they’re home and need new feel-good television to binge. Along with recaps of these 10 contestants’ Idol journeys and a few unseen performances (including a fantastic original song audition and John Mayer Hollywood Week cover by singer-songwriter Franklin Boone), the show also caught up with some memorable cast-offs. And that is when we all got to see Doug Kiker’s surprising post-Idol makeover.
Lovable garbage man Doug had the breakout moment of this Idol season so far, racking up more than 200 million video views for his humble audition of Rascal Flatts’ “Bless the Broken Road.” Sadly, the inexperienced singer, who literally didn’t even know the meanings of the words “range” or “warm up,” struggled to stay in key, and had never performed on a stage before, was cut on the first day of Hollywood Week. But back in his home state of Alabama, he’s apparently enjoying his newfound fame by starting to play local gigs. And -- in the Idol tradition of the dental transformations of Elliott Yamin, Crystal Bowersox, and last season’s winner Laine Hardy – he’s also gotten some snazzy new Hollywood teeth.
“The sky’s the limit, man! Y’all got me feeling that way,” Doug said, smiling like he was starring in a toothpaste commercial, his once-gummy grin a thing of the past, as he bounced his toddler daughter on his knee. “I finally believe in myself enough to actually sing in front of people!” So Doug’s a winner, even if his Idol airtime was brief.
This season’s other 10 contestants will be the focus of a second This Is Me clip show next weekend. On that episode, we’ll also find out whether Grace Leer or Lauren Mascitti won the public tie-breaker vote to make to the live shows, and hopefully we’ll also get some announcement about how exactly producers are planning to proceed with those shows -- since Ryan did promise this Sunday, “Soon, you will vote on your top 20.” See you then.