A sweet song left American Idol tonight. But somehow I don’t think this is the last the music world has heard of Anthony Federov.
The show opened as they always do, but this time we searched the faces of the contestants just a little more closely when the camera went to close-up as Ryan prattled on about how, after making the cut out of 100,000 auditions, tonight someone was going home.
Anthony, surprisingly, was more relaxed than I’d seen him as this point in a results show all season, while Carrie fluffed her banglets with an anxious sigh. It was unexpectedly dramatic, especially given that for weeks now it’s been clear that third place would come down to Anthony versus Vonzell.
Previously, I’d opined on how American Idol certainly was hoping for a Bo/Constantine smackdown. Well, all they got between Anthony and Vonzell was a little friendly thumb-wrestling, but still. They both gave it their all and Vonzell won the big one.
There was something fitting about the strains of “Islands in the Stream” lilting into the air. It wasn’t the greatest, but certainly it wasn’t as excruciating as most of the finalists’ other group numbers. However, you’d have to be a block of concrete to not find Anthony and Carrie’s wondrous pied a deux at least a little enchanting.
Maybe it just stood out because there’s been a famine of emotion on this show, but their in-their-own-world dancin’ groove was, in the end, to die for, especially since we’ve seen so little of either of these two really getting lost in their music. Or even having fun.
And, okay, I have to admit to noting some significant on-screen chemistry between the blonde ones in the last weeks (check the tapes; you’ll see what I mean), so maybe I’m also reading a little between the lyrics here.
There was the obligatory Ford commercial, which, frankly, I can’t hate. Often it’s one of the few moments of creativity in the results shows. Tonight, singing “Ready to Go,” the image was Bo with an electric doorknob ‘doo, taking his AI fellow travelers in a toy Ford on a Hot Wheels track, whereby they each get an electric doorknob ‘doo, too. So, yes, they all do ‘doo. Too.
Then—interrupted by Ashlee “La La” Simpson, in her previous haircolor, hawking blow dryers or some such nonsense—we screened each finalist’s first audition, [drumroll] The First Step in Their American Idol Journey.
Wow, I liked Vonzell—singing Aretha, “Chain of Fools”—much, much better then. She was so much more of a natural woman (and, yes, apologies to the great Carole King). Maybe when this gig is over, that powerfully compelling natural woman dynamic in her will re-emerge.
Carrie was memorable, as Simon pointed out, and Bo was more handsome and more accessible in slightly shorter hair with some hot curls and a few crimps going on.
And then there was Anthony, looking two years younger, actually looking kind of hot for a 19-year-old, belting out John Secada’s “Angel”—well, now I know for sure why the judges put him through. The boy can sing. And somehow it hit me that he had pretty much been a mis-managed asset throughout his AI journey.
Early in the competition, I ragged on the judges for their insistence on stereotyping Anthony as a Clay Aiken clone. I said:
This season the judges have gotten their jollies claiming Anthony is “this year’s Clay Aiken.” . . .
That’s because their reasoning processes are so advanced: Anthony = Different appearance. Different appearance = Geek. Geek = Clay Aiken. Do the math.
Well, the fatal mistake in that arithmetic is equating “different appearance” with “geek.” Anthony is not a geek, a nerd or a dork. He’s European! For Pete’s sake, people, anyone who’s spent any time hanging on the Continent knows that. This is how guys look and carry themselves in Europe, and they’re considered supremely cool, if in a Sensitive Poet kind of way.
Just like they missed the boat by not recognizing that Clay Aiken was Clay Aiken, the judges missed the boat by not recognizing that Anthony Federov was not Clay Aiken.
The more clips of him I saw, the more I realized that Anthony, the Fedoration of Love, was indeed a hipster with a charming, soon-to-become magnetic Euro-pop sensibility that would make him a star. In Europe, if not, eventually, here and beyond.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I think that inimitable tower of business acumen, Koch Records—the label that had the foresight to sign William Hung (hey, he made money for them and that’s the definition of success) and Pray For The Soul of Betty (Constantine Maroulis’ NYC band)—should sign Anthony as soon as possible and launch him as a pop star in Europe.
Mark my words: before you knew what hit you—forget about Cliff Richard—Anthony’s photo would be pinned on the walls of fraulein’s rooms everywhere.
This is no untried theory. Believe it or not, both the Backstreet Boys and N’SYNC were launched in Europe first. Once they became established in Germany, then they headed home to America and the rest is history.
I’m not saying Anthony can reach N’SYNC’s (former) altitude. But I am saying he can probably best David Hasselhoff—yes, the Baywatch and talking car dude—who became a Superstar (yes, with a capital “s”) in Germany by combining his hunky looks with soft-serve rock anthems, such as a cover of the 1970s hit “Auch Der Strasse Nach Suden.” Hasselhoff released at least 10 successful discs in Deutschland, and that’s not handkase mit musik.
And believe it or not, even before Hasselhoff hooked up with that serendipitous “Auch” song, he’d already made it in Switzerland and Austria!
Of course, Simon Cowell would sniff that anyone, even Clay Aiken, could sell a million copies of “Auch Der Strasse Nach Suden,” but we all know it’s not that easy.
Speaking of accomplishments, Mr. Hasselhoff also claims credit—well, partial credit—for the downing of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany, but I digress.
And speaking of Mr. Cowell and launching acts in Europe:
Interestingly enough, cribbing off RCA’s business plan for N’SYNC et al., Simon pegged TKG, a two-boy, two-girl band that hails from N’SYNC’s birthplace of Orlando, Florida, to launch in Britain this summer. (BTW, can’t these Orlando bands come up with something for names besides acronyms? Okay, it’s cute the first time, but . . . do they see Disneyworld going around calling itself “WDW”? No, and why is that, hmm?) And, oh, the band–TKG—hired Tony Cowell, Simon’s bro, to handle the pub. But, oops! . . . I did it [digress] again.
Anyway, my point, Anthony, is that the world is your oyster and you don’t necessarily need a Marquis private jet card to shuck it. In the world of American Idol, we hardly knew you. But I hope that changes. Keep being a dream-maker, and thank your dad for giving us that nice word.
Finally, you know I couldn’t help myself from remarking upon my observation of some significant on-screen chem between Anthony and Carrie over the last weeks, and bubbling up in their “Islands in the Stream” rapport. We all saw Carrie, bawling like a baby, mouth “I love you” to Anthony as he tried his best to get through “If You Don’t Know Me By Now.” And, however she meant it, I’m sure she does.
So Anthony, it’s nice to know you leave having made a good friend. Good luck in all your future endeavors.