Somewhere, right now, a Cowboy named Richie is feeling relieved. His Hollywood Week nemesis, Heejun Han, has been vanquished. It was bad enough for Richie when Heejun made the Top 24, and then the Top 13 and he didn't, but he couldn't bear the thought of Heejun winning American Idol
. Little does Richie know; despite a short stint on the American Idol
live shows, Heejun Han will leave a lasting mark on Season 11.
I am sad to see Heejun leave. He was, in my opinion, the most entertaining contestant from beginning to end. He had my favorite audition, possibly of all time. It was the only one I told people about this season, and I still laugh whenever I remember how he didn't want to stand next to Ryan Seacrest and his small head because "the comparison is too great."
His tender and surprising performance of Michael Bolton's "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You" sent him through to "Hollywooooooooooooooooooooooood," where it was pretty much all about Heejun Han. He had the funniest lines, and a hilarious beef with "the Cowboy" in the group round. When they all made it through, Heejun confessed and apologized because, "you will see, on American Idol Season 11, check it out, Heejun talks lots of craps about Richie."
He sailed through Las Vegas week and into the Top 13 Guys with a performance of Billy Joel's "New York State of Mind." It's too bad he couldn't sing that song again come Billy Joel week. His performance of "Angels" by Robbie Williams in the Top 13 Guys was passable, but I suspect his winning personality took him into the Top 10.
The duality of Heejun Han continued to perplex fans and judges alike. He was so charming and funny in rehearsals with Jimmy Iovine, winning over the guest mentors, particularly Mary J. Blige, with his dry humor. But when he got up on stage, he would always be singing emotional ballads. Things weren't matching up.
He sang "All in Love is Fair" for Stevie Wonder week, then "Right Here Waiting" by Richard Marx for Year You Were Born week. His voice was beautiful, but the personality we saw outside of performances, the personality that Ryan Seacrest couldn't seem to figure out how to work with, wasn't coming through. Then, in Billy Joel week, the schtick hit the fan.
His performance of Billy Joel's "My Life" was energetic, wacky, delightful, and polarizing. Jennifer Lopez called him "a breath of fresh air" in a night of mostly ballads, but that was the nicest thing he heard about his performance that night. I loved it--I thought the choice to start in a tux with a ballad, then change it up into a fast song with lyrics about not caring with "I wanna DANCE!" was brilliant. But the judges, particularly Steven who is rarely against anything, didn't care for what they perceived as a blatant disrespect for the competition. Here is the "controversial" performance in question:
I really don't think he meant any disrespect. It just happened to come out like a terrible karaoke bar performance after everyone has had too many "birthday cake" shots. The song choice was, perhaps, unfortunate, as the lyrics say over and over again that the person singing them doesn't care what anyone says. Maybe that's where the idea of disregard came from.
Watching it back, I adore the performance even more. It was good! And it was fun. For the first time, Heejun's vocal abilities and the personality we all fell in love with were coming together; and he was crucified for it. Steven Tyler asked Heejun, "are you happy that you took the piss out of that song?" then warned him to start taking things more seriously because "the music business will kick your ass." It probably didn't help that Heejun confused Tommy Hilfiger by telling him that his fashion icons were Jessica Sanchez, Madonna, and Michael Bolton.
Vote For the Worst rallied behind this performance, and Heejun Han, and the voters put him through for another week. Was this the new Heejun we'd be seeing? Could he marry the two sides? No. It appeared that Heejun would give into the pressure from the judges, Jimmy, and likely the producers. It was back to ballads.
Heejun's final performance was one of his best. He sang "A Song For You" by Donny Hathaway and it was beautiful, even if it lacked the sizzle of his previous performance. His style was more on-point, but Jimmy Iovine assessed the situation correctly: Heejun just wasn't up to par with the other 8 competitors. He watered down the personality that had taken him this far, and it was more of a letdown to his fans than "My Life."
This week, he was sent home and seemed to know it was coming. Steven Tyler even remarked that Heejun saw it coming, but seemed to hint at the lesson everyone was taught. OBEY OR BE GONE! OK, maybe it's not as dramatic as all that, but I didn't think it was necessary to chastise Heejun on his way out the door. And how will this affect his partner in crime, Phillip Phillips? A sad day for all.
Why do you think Heejun was eliminated? What did you think of his performance of "My Life"? Was it disrespectful or fun? Did we ever solve the riddle that was Heejun Han?
(images courtesy of FOX)