I have a little confession. I used to watch American Idol–and not just for the bad auditions. I didn’t watch it every season, but when I did, it was with a fair amount of loyalty. I’ve always wanted to be exposed to new music at every opportunity though, so I’m not sorry for it. After all, I never would have discovered Lilly Scott otherwise.
For those who don’t remember (or never watched), Lilly Scott was was a semi-finalist on season 9 of American Idol back in 2010. She was eliminated the night they announced the Top 12. I still remember the look on her face when it came down to her and another girl. They both looked like they were waiting for Lilly’s name to be announced. But they read the other girl’s name instead. Everyone was shocked, including the other girl herself. (Sorry I can’t remember the name, but if I remember correctly, she didn’t even make it to the top five, so I don’t care too much.)
I remember Lilly saying something like her fans weren’t watching the show, which was more of a slight against American Idol than her fans. I think that was the moment where she must have realized that her destiny was for her, not a random TV audience, to decide.
That was the season I stopped watching American Idol. I was outraged for all the right reasons. That season was one of many that would make up the “white guys with guitars” streak. (No, seriously: Google it.) And I’ve never looked back.
I kept checking up to see what became of Lilly Scott though. It turned out she had a band called VARLET. I snatched up their EP (ironically titled) I Win! as soon as I found out about it. I think it may have come out around the same time as when she appeared on American Idol, but considering some of the lyrics, it feels like it could have been written about her American Idol experience.
Consider these lyrics from “Jello Plate”:
Watch out for me
That’s what they say
But do you know who I am?
…No I can’t take these fuckin’ people, yeah
What a goddamn joke
My heart is here wide open
But I don’t wanna get choked
I thought for the longest time it WAS about her American Idol experience, but like I said, a little research shows it might not have been, unless she was singing about her audition/Hollywood week. Even then, that would still be pretty punk of her, giving a big (and, soon enough, well-deserved) middle finger to the mainstream music and television industry.
I Win! is very low key and, admittedly, a little indulgent in an almost hipstery kind of way. It sounds like something that would be performed at your local fair trade anti-Starbucks co-op coffee shop. But the minimal instrumentation really allows Lilly Scott’s vocals to shine. She’s the kind of musician who really knows how to use her voice as an instrument, and that’s my favorite kind of musician.
I still think back to her first Idol performance, when she sang one of my favorite Beatles songs, “Fixing A Hole.” It remains one of my favorite Beatles covers ever to this day. Just take a listen and you’ll understand why she was robbed (though she was not eliminated on this song):
You know, now that I think about it, maybe it was better that she didn’t make it into the competition with the other finalists. Onward and upwards, Lilly Scott.