Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Another little engine that could

Last April I blogged about not judging a book by its cover and the Susan Boyle phenomenon. Susan didn't win Britain's Got Talent, much to my surprise, and then she had a bit of bad publicity from run-ins with the media. I'm sorry, but you can't take a shy woman from a small village, splash her across television in front of millions of people and not have her experience a bit of panic and pique with the paparazzi.

American Idol started last week and on Tuesday night, at the Atlanta, Georgia auditions, audiences were given a treat during the very last try-out. AI has an age limit of 28, so I was surprised when a gentleman who was quite obviously much older than that came in to audition. He introduced himself as General Larry Platt and after a little fumbling he began to sing his original composition, Pants on the Ground.

Simon and Randy displayed their usual sarcasm. Kara smiled politely at first, then clapped and giggled. Guest judge Mary J. Blige dissolved in laughter. The General kept his cool. Then Simon uttered the famous words, "I have a horrible feeling that song could be a hit."

In case you didn't catch it on television, here it is.

In true AI fashion, there's a story behind the story, and it appeared the next day in USA Today.

General Larry Platt: A closer look

We all got a good chuckle Wednesday out of General Larry Platt and his Pants on the Ground song. Entertaining as he was, I couldn't help but wonder why the American Idol producers saved the last spot of the show for a 62-year-old guy with a funny song.

Now I think I know.

Take a look at the photograph on the home page of the Civil Rights Veterans Movement website. See the young man on the left, looking directly into the camera? That's Larry Platt, age 16.

"We had come by bus in 1963 to a church in Savannah, Georgia to plan a march to desegregate the city," Platt writes. "Reverend Hosea Williams and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. were our leaders. That particular planned march was canceled and we were singing to raise our spirits before returning home."

Platt worked with the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Georgia, organizing sit-ins in the South.

He was beaten during the Bloody Sunday march from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery.

He got his nickname, "General," from the Rev. Hosea Williams because of his heroic efforts on behalf of the civil-rights movement.

The Georgia General Assembly proclaimed Sept. 4, 2001, Larry Platt Day in Atlanta, because of "his great energy and commitment to equality and the protection of the innocent and for his outstanding service to the Atlanta community and the citizens of Georgia."

He remains a community activist in the Atlanta area and recently has become known for publicly protesting foreclosures.

If anybody in that Atlanta crowd deserved his 15 minutes of fame on national television, it was Larry Platt.

When he tells you to get your pants off the ground, you'd best listen.

True to Simon's word, Pants on the Ground has become an internet sensation, and last Saturday night I saw a young man who deserved a good dose of the General's advice. I didn't dare tell him, but on my way to the car I was hummin' the song.

It's still too early in the season to have much of an idea about who'll make it and who won't, but so far we've seen a few really good singers. And I'm looking forward to seeing new judge Ellen Degeneres once we get to Hollywood week.

Are you an American Idol fan? Whose your favorite winner to date? Or non-winner for that matter since quite a few of those have gone on to land recording contracts.


Angel said...

I'm not an AI fan. If hubby watches it, I go in the other room. I just have a very difficult time watching people make fools of themselves and then the criticism. Makes me very uncomfortable, so I just don't watch. Sometimes I will when they have special performances later on (Loved Bon Jovi night a few years back!).

This is really cute! Even the kids were singing it over the weekend and I had to ask them where they'd heard it. Their cousins played it off YouTube for them. :)

And I'm all for personal responsibility! We could use more of it in this day and age (and much less butt crack if you ask me)!


Linda Winstead Jones said...

My grandkids have apparently picked up this song, and were singing it all weekend. I have to admit, the day after I saw AI, I sang it a couple of times myself. Good for General! :-)

I watch AI, but the novelty of the bad singers who think they're good has worn off. I like to see the good singers who are plucked out of nowhere. Very cool, to see real talent discovered.


Problem Child said...

I have to agree with the sentiment. I, like Angel, and very tired of seeing people's underwear or crack.

Buy a belt!

Andrea Laurence AKA Smarty Pants said...

I have apparently missed out on this entire phenomenon. The other day after the Vikings game, they did a chant in the locker room of "pants on the ground" and I had no clue what they were talking about.

I don't watch American Idol. The closest I've gotten was the season with David Cook and David Archuletta. I loved David Cook's version of Billy Jean. Of course, then he won and AI turned him into some squishy power ballad singer instead of the rock star he wanted to be. In those cases, I think people like Chris Daughtry are better off being voted out.

mslizalou said...

I watched for a few years, but American Idol is on at the same time as The Biggest Loser, and that is my must see show. I've never watched the early tryouts, since I think it puts too much focus on those who can't sing.

Unknown said...

I'm a big fan of Idol. I DVR it so I can watch it later. I get a big kick out of the try outs. Its about the only reality show I watch. I don't think I have a favorite Idol winner they were all good or the would not have won!

catslady said...

Kelly Clarkson is my favorite, then Carrie Underwood. I liked Clay Aikens but he came in second. I've only watched it from the beginning last year and now this year. I like to hear the backgrounds and you have to admit, some are hysterical that they're so bad. I do feel bad for the horrible ones that think they're good. And great job for the General - I saw him again on the view.

Kira Sinclair - AKA Instigator said...

I'll watch AI if there's nothing else on. However, I end up flipping the channel during the first few weeks of painful try-outs. I love to watch after they've been narrowed down though...when we get to the real talent.


Jane said...

My favorite winner is Ruben and my favorite non winner is Daughtry.

Katherine Bone said...

It's not the same without Paula. ~sigh~