'American Idol 5' rejects making music and staying out of trouble
By Christopher Rocchio, 01/17/2007
At this time last year they were this close to being "the next American Idol" -- now they're no different than the millions of others who have been cast aside by the Fox mega-hit.
Affectionately refereed to as "Idol rejects," the January 22 issue of People magazine caught-up with five contestants who had their dreams quickly pulled from under their feet as they were shown the door during the series fifth season. Who could forget Michael Sandecki, the "Clay Aiken Doppelganger" who was joined on-stage by the Idol 2 runner-up during the show's May 24, 2006 fifth season finale? While he was visibly surprised at the chance to meet Aiken, Sandecki said he did some post-Idol soul searching.
"I kind of got thrown into the spotlight," Sandecki told People. "I had to question myself: Where do I fit in? Who am I?"
Sandecki said people would insist he was Aiken for months following his Idol appearance, which other than the finale surprise, lasted for only a brief audition. Now the 22-year-old Phoenix, AZ resident does clerical work for an online school and has changed his look. But music is still a top priority.
"I eat, live and breathe music, and I'm going to make it somehow," Sandecki told People. "But now I just want to be Mike."
Two former contestants who also probably wished they could have assumed other identities and "just been Mike" following their stint on Idol 5 were Derrell and Terrell Brittenum, otherwise known as "the twins." After using another man's identity to buy a car, the two were arrested and their Idol dreams were gone. But being forced to pay court costs and having to perform 96 hours of community service -- which included feeding and singing to retirement home residents -- can change a man (or two).
"Being a helping hand makes you feel really good inside," Derrell told People.
While Derrell said the focus on their legal woes was "a bit much," the 29-year-old identical twins are looking to "bring good music back," according to Terrell, and will release their R&B CD "Here I Am" in March.
Also rekindling her career after being booted from Idol 5's Top 20 is Brenna Gethers. "[American Idol] is first and foremost a reality show," Gethers told People.
She vowed to have people talking about her again when she departed Idol, and she took a step towards making that a reality last summer, when the 26-year-old replaced the lead singer of Bomb Squad, a funk-rock band that won an American Music Award for Best New Music in 2003.
"I feel so grateful," Gethers told People.
Nineteen-year-old Garet Johnson also made it to last season's Hollywood round, where he said "my nerves got me." But he took the Idol judges' advice (how many former contestants can say that) and takes vocal lessons when he's not tending to the family ranch in Veteran, WY.
"I need more seasoning first [before I start my music career]," Johnson told People. "I don't need to be a big star yet."
It remains to be seen if appearing on Idol will help Johnson's singing career, but it has done wonders for his life in another area.
"I've kissed, I don't know...25 girls, I'm guessing," he told People. Before Idol? "None." Besides his mom, of course.