Jacee Badeaux doesn’t have typical “American Idol” looks or style, but he’s fast becoming a favorite in season 10 of the competition.
Badeaux, the portly 15-year-old viewers were first introduced to when he blew the judges away with his unexpectedly soulful take on Otis Redding’s “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” during the New Orleans auditions, was the center of a whirlwind drama on Wednesday’s (February 16) episode. He bounced around looking to find his place during Hollywood Week’s notorious group round, and was tossed from his original foursome (with Clint Jun Gamboa, Monique de Los Santos and Frances Coontz) when floating country crooner Scotty McCreery joined their ranks. Of course, it was Jacee who’d first given the thumbs-up to allow McCreery to link up with them.
Left without a group at 1 a.m. on the night before the big group auditions, a teary-eyed Badeaux sought the comfort of his parents. “It’s OK, baby,” his mother told him. “Either way, it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Mom turned out to know best, and Badeaux quickly fell in with another group, led by fellow outcast Brett Loewenstern , the mop-topped, red-haired singer whose tales of being bullied have been well-documented this season. Despite the fact that he’d never heard Duffy’s “Mercy,” which the group had been rehearsing for hours, Badeaux joined them and began learning the song.
But the rehearsal time wasn’t quite enough for Badeaux, who made no secret of the fact that he didn’t know the words when he hit the rehearsal stage. So to the tune of Duffy’s 2008 hit, a smiling Badeaux sang, “I don’t wanna go home, yeah yeah/ But this is really fun, yeah yeah/ But I’m gonna do this, ’cause I know that I won’t be going home … hopefully.”
When asked by the judges why he didn’t know his parts, he told his story of being kicked out of his first group late the night before and began to well up with tears. As his fellow contestants in the audience rose to their feet and gave him a standing ovation, Randy Jackson noted, “Jacee, you got some fans out there, dude.” And despite flubbing the lyrics — usually a death knell at this point in the competition — the judges let him through to the next round.
But that wasn’t it for Badeaux. Next up was the group that unceremoniously dismissed Jacee, and McCreery — who had essentially replaced him in the group — came clean to the judges’ panel and to his fellow contestants. “I just wanna go on the record and say, for me personally, I wanna apologize for not sticking up for [Badeaux],” he said. ” ‘Cause I love all of y’all, but Jacee’s the best kid in this competition.”
After his mea culpa, McCreery and his fellow groupmates made it through as well. But now that Badeaux is building momentum, his biggest obstacle could be himself, and learning the pesky words to those songs.
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