I must preface this by saying that my disagreement has nothing to do with the fact that I love Heejun Han. I am able to disassociate the emotional swell of my crush from my crush object’s actual abilities. [I just happened to luck out with this year’s season of Top Chef in that my TV husband Paul Qui did deserve to take home the crown] Do I think Heejun has the strongest voice? No. Do I think he will win American Idol? Not really. But I do think he’s become an Asian American pop culture revolutionary?
And Jimmy Iovine’s mini-rant about Heejun’s class clown persona and that the show is not “American Comedian,” just further cemented that belief for me.
Let’s face it, Asian Americans have not fared well on American Idol. The contestants of Asian descent who have made it past Hollywood Week have typically been … boring. Technically skilled, but not as captivating as they could have been, whether it was due to song choice (i.e. snoozy ballads) or lack of stage presence (Oh, Thia Megia…). Season 3’s Camile Velasco (who awesomely sang the hook to The Fugee’s “Ready or Not” in her audition) was just too hip to conform to Idol’s staid routine even in its early seasons and even AI’s resident Asian stud John Park (the one who set Shania Twain’s loins afire during his audition) failed to excite audiences. It’s been argued that singers who receive little screen time during the Hollywood Week episodes are facing one hell of an uphill battle to capture the hearts of America once voting begins, especially if they don’t have a maudlin backstory to tug on viewers’ heartstrings. I think that’s true for a show like Idol — and its competition The X-Factor — which put a large emphasis on creating a “package” star.
And who had a ton of well-deserved Hollywood Week time? Heejun Han. Since his audition, he’s been giving America some of the best deadpan one liners that reality TV has ever seen. Even his facial expressions — though, often bordering on the absurd — are genius. Plus, he really can sing. So while Jimmy and the increasingly joyless Ryan Seacrest question how seriously Heejun is taking the competition, they’d be naive to think he’s not taking his career seriously.