Justin's Silent Night
by Joal Ryan
Nov 25, 2003, 8:00 PM PT
It sounds like Justin Guarini could use a little holiday cheer.
Amid reports the singer has been dropped by his record label, Guarini was MIA from Tuesday night's American Idol Christmas special on Fox.
The network told E! it "has no idea" why the curly-haired one did not participate in the hourlong special. The decision reportedly was Guarini's, and may have involved a scheduling conflict.
When Fox announced An American Idol Christmas last month, Guarini was billed as one of its stars, along with Idols Clay Aiken, Ruben Studdard and Kelly Clarkson.
In the end, Aiken, Studdard and Clarkson taped the special, assisted by fellow alumni Kimberly Locke, Tamyra Gray and Christina Christian. All are featured on the new album, American Idol: The Great Holiday Classics. Guarini contributed a solo track ("I'll Be Home for Christmas") to the collection, as well.
According to the latest Us Weekly, Guarini's Yuletide croon could be his final one for RCA Records. The magazine says the 25-year-old Idol has been shown the door by the label.
RCA did not return calls for comment Tuesday. Reps for Fox and 19 Management, the U.K.-based multimedia giant behind Idol, expressed surprise to hear of the reputed dumping.
It's already been a rough month for Guarini--two weeks ago, he was sued for more than $100,000 by a Pennsylvania couple over a 2002 traffic accident.
Next month may not be any easier. That's when Simon Cowell's new book, I Don't Mean to Be Rude, But..., hits stores. In it, the resident nasty Idol judge offers this assessment of Guarini: "He could end up as a huge star, or he could end up singing at weddings."
As of Tuesday, any sign that Guarini was ever signed to RCA was all but absent from the music giant's official Website. He was not listed in its artist roster, a roster highlighted by Aiken and Clarkson. A link to a contest called "Win the Jacket Off Justin Guarini's Back" redirected the user to an unrelated page. Still to be had was a press release from last January heralding Guarini as a young man "set to become a huge music industry name."
But when Guarini's self-titled solo debut from RCA was released last June, the album did not fulfill the label's prophecy. It opened at number 20 on the Billboard chart, with a non-huge 54,000 copies sold, and slid from there.
The soundtrack for his big-screen beach-party musical with Clarkson, From Justin to Kelly, fared even worse--no company dared released one. Or, perhaps it was the beach-party musical itself that fared worse--Fox did release that opus, and it bombed, grossing, if that's the term, less than $5 million in theaters.
As a solo act, Clarkson, Idol's first-season winner to Guarini's first-season runner-up, has had better luck. Her album, Thankful, went platinum (more than 1 million copies sold), with 297,000 albums bought in the first week.
Second-season runner-up Aiken raised the Idol bar in October, with his Measure of a Man moving 613,000 copies in its first week. It, too, has achieved platinum status.
Studdard, the reigning Idol champ, will be the next Idol to face the buying public. His disc, Soulful, from RCA's sister label J Records, is due out December 9.
Guarini, meanwhile, may not be the only ex-Idol struggling with a recording career. According to an email reputedly from Tamyra Gray to a fansite, she has been dropped by J Records before even releasing an album. A call seeking comment from the label was not returned Tuesday.