The interesting thing about following American Idol this year is the contestant’s personal stories, their backgrounds and their rags to riches struggle to stardom. Okay, yes, I have been watching, when I’m not watching sports. And yes, I do have my favorites.

Many of the singers are singing their hearts out. Actually I really like all 13 finalists this week. It’s fun to come home from work and see a live family oriented show that almost any one will enjoy. It’s pure entertainment at its best. Historically, shows on television that feature young singers have been, in most cases, successful.

Many of the show’s competitors are aspiring artists from diverse backgrounds who see Idol as an opportunity and an outlet to showcase their vocal talents.

At the same time, many if not all, see being on Idol and singing music as a means to support their families in a country where the economic crisis has taken its toll on just about everyone.

Being able to sit in front of your television and connect with the lives of these young people during rough financial times is just what we might need after a long day at work. When we’re lucky to have a job these days.

I like Lil Rounds personal story and her motivation. She is an African-American mother of three. Rounds and her husband recently lost their home after a devastating tornado destroyed it in Memphis. They are displaced and live out of a hotel. Rounds is definitely a great R&B rising star.

Then there is the powerhouse voice of Alexis Grace, 21, who is a single mom also from Memphis. Grace can really sing and as a single mom, many can relate to her story that is all too often a reality. She is petite and white but can really throw down in a bluesy and soulful kind of way. You go girl!

Another of my favorites is Michael Sarver, 27, who is an oil-rigger from East Texas. He is married with two children and plays piano, drums and guitar. This is a working class guy who may not make it far on the show but sees the Idol experience as a way to continue to support his family. His working class roots are part of the American fabric and when it comes to majority of households in the U.S. his story is relatable.

Another fave of mine is 16-year-old Allison Iraheta from Los Angeles, whose parents are originally from El Salvador. She is the youngest semifinalist contestant on Idol. Iraheta grew up singing in a local store and won a Telemundo singing competition when she was 14. She has an amazing voice and is quite the rocker. She can really go far.

I also like Danny Gokey, a 28-year-old from Milwaukee whose wife Sophia died of a congenital heart defect seven months before he made the Idol finals. The death of his wife and Gokey’s personal inspiration is a heartfelt and emotional tale. Gokey’s voice has a lot of soul and spirit.

Front-runner is the striking singing voice of Adam Lambert, a musical-theater veteran who is entirely in a league of his own. His vocals are ear shattering and his singing potential is far and wide. Thumbs up.

All of these I’m sure will be on Idol for a while.

Anyway reality television and singing competitions may not be for everyone. But I sure do enjoy relaxing at home and watching live entertainment especially when in some way or another I can relate to the stories featured on the show, even if I can’t sing worth a dime. I look forward to seeing who wins this year and I wish them all the best of luck. They each deserve a break.

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