When Alex Lambert, the mullet-haired Texan teen with an old-soul voice whom Ellen DeGeneres likened to a ripening banana, narrowly missed making the top 12 on what was arguably the most depressing night of "American Idol" Season 9, it seemed like the end of the road for the former frontrunner, who was so choked up with tears he could barely get through his swan song performance. But all was not lost for Alex: After a petition on his behalf, signed by almost 20,000 fans, caught the notice of "Idol's" parent company 19 Entertainment, Alex was quickly cast in 19's online reality show, "If I Can Dream." His premiere on the show was watched by an impressive 1 million online viewers, and he spent his subsequent days either lounging around "IICD's" posh McMansion or working in the studio with big-name producers on a presumed debut album. Rumors that young Alex would sign to 19 Records swirled, and he even got to shoot a professional music video for one of his songs.
The ex-Idol was truly living the American dream.
But now it seems Alex has caught another bad break. With the iffy online experiment "If I Can Dream" on indefinite (and probably permanent) hiatus, the now 20-year-old singer-songwriter has been exiled from the "IICD" mansion and, according to his recent Twitter claims, he's currently "homeless."
"Alright so I didn't want to bring my person life to my fans but I'm about to freak out if I don't tell yall the truth!" Alex tweeted this week, saying that he's had to visit WiFi-equipped coffeehouses in order to maintain contact with his online fans. "Ever since IICD ended I've been kinda homeless! Sleepin on the street and behind buildings. I have a choice to stay and persue my career or go back to Texas and not do music! I'm usually a strong person but I can't take it anymore.
"I just want my fans to know that I'm not an American Idol type person! There are many things I can't share with yall because you'd probably think I was a hooligan haha."
These troubling tweets generated a groundswell of support from Alex's always devoted fanbase, prompting him to later reassure his concerned followers that he's actually doing just fine: "O my goodness yall! I have been crashin behind buidings and sleepin outside but I dont want nobody to feel sorry for me! I've had so much help out here in LA! I just want to do things on my own! I have places to stay I just don't want to be a burden on anyone! I have money! And soon I will have a place to stay! I just wanted to let yall know! I'm not some rich spoiled kid! That I've had to hustle and grind and I don't mind sleepin on the street as long as I get my chance! Because I will not take it for granted! I hope yall understand."
But it's possible that Alex's reassuring next-day tweets came after he got a lecture from his handlers, who were none too pleased with his Twitter rant. See, the following day a spokesperson for "American Idol" production company XIX Entertainment--which currently has a development deal with Alex--told Entertainment Weekly: "I don't know where that came from. He's on a retainer, and he's getting money every month. He's working on demos. He's with writers, he's working on music. He's not homeless. How could he be texting? How could he be going into recording studio and sleeping on the streets? There's no record deal yet, but hopefully with these demos something could come from that."
A rep from XIX also told The Hollywood Reporter that Alex's bizarre late-night tweets were just the result of him having a "bad day."
So it's unclear just how struggling this struggling artist is. But judging from his emphatic tweets, Alex has no intentions of giving up on his music dream, whether he's really homeless or not. "There's no way I'll ever stop making music as long as I live," he said. So Alex certainly has the drive--and, more importantly, the talent. But so do a lot of other singers in L.A. who never make it. We'll just have to wait and see if Alex eventually gets a deserved third chance at fame. Hey, at least his Twitter spree generated more publicity for him, right?
In the meantime, let the strange saga of Alex Lambert serve as a cautionary tale for the starry-eyed hopefuls of "American Idol" Season 10: Nothing comes easy in showbiz, not even for singers who've have the good fortune of appearing on one of the world's most-watched TV shows.
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