Every season of American Idol has at least one rocker vying for the crown, but few have an honest-to-god metalhead like James Durbin, who wailed his way to a fourth-place finish during the show's 2011 season.
Born in 1989, Durbin was raised in Santa Cruz, California, where he was diagnosed with Tourette's and Asperger's syndrome at nine years old. Uncomfortable in social situations, he turned to music instead, developing a larger-than-life stage presence as part of a local theater group and singing lead with Hollywood Scars, a hair metal group inspired by Mötley Crüe and Guns N' Roses. By the time he auditioned for American Idol, he'd moved on to a new band called Whatever Fits.
Singing rock songs by Queen, Muse, and Judas Priest, Durbin became one of the season's leading contenders, earning comparisons to Adam Lambert (another high-voiced Idol alum) along the way. He finished fourth, joined the inevitable "American Idol Summer Tour" several weeks after the show's finale, and released an EP, American Idol Season 10 Highlights, in June 2011. Durbin's full-length studio debut, Memories of a Beautiful Disaster, featuring the single "Love Me Bad," followed in November of 2011. In 2014, Durbin moved in an even more pop-oriented direction with his sophomore album, Celebrate, which featured the single "Parachute." ~ Andrew Leahey