So John Stevens isn’t the next “American Idol.” That doesn’t mean the fans who wore out their telephone redial buttons voting for him are ready to give up the dream.
“GET OUT THERE AND SING YOUR HEART OUT! :)” urged Susan from Michigan on a Web site devoted to the 16-year-old redhead. She was one of many who promised to buy his CDs.
By early afternoon Thursday, more than 350 Stevens fans from around the world had posted encouraging messages for the wholesome high school junior who crooned his way into the final six on Fox’s “American Idol” before getting bounced from the show.
“Everybody’s feeling the same way. They’re disappointed,” Stevens’ voice coach John Fleischman said a day after watching his protégé’s departure, which followed weeks of less-than-kind reviews from the show’s judges and some viewers.
“He took things very, very well and did a super job,” said Fleischman, who met Stevens through the Western New York Children’s Chorus he directs.
Even a Web site dedicated to ousting Stevens from the show had come around Thursday, declaring, “We wish him the best of luck.”
In Stevens’ hometown of East Amherst, homecoming celebrations were in the works, even though it was unknown when he would return. Williamsville East High School officials were planning a welcoming assembly, even though it will likely mean taking time out as students are hitting the books hard for final exams.
Spokeswoman Rita Wolf said at least “one day of frenzy” seemed unavoidable.
“Even with all the negativity swirling around him, the support here never relinquished,” she said.
The negativity went far beyond the judges’ condemnations of his singing: “It was like chocolate ice cream and an onion,” Simon Cowell had said Tuesday after Stevens’ performance of “Music of My Heart,” a ballad Gloria Estefan first sang with boy band ’N Sync.
A headline in USA Today on Tuesday asked, “Could this guy kill ‘American Idol’?” The story included a critic’s prediction that if Stevens won the competition the show could be canceled.
Students in Stevens’ district had taken to sending him messages of encouragement to combat anything else he might be hearing. And fans, donning T-shirts airbrushed with Stevens’ picture, regularly gathered for viewing parties on Tuesday nights before casting dozens of votes each.
“I think he made it this far because of his voice, not just his popularity,” Williamsville East student Janice Mack said. “I think he’s still doing an excellent job.”