“American Idol” reject Josiah Leming confirmed long-swirling rumors earlier this week that he had signed to Warner Bros. Records, home to artists like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tom Petty, and (not for much longer) Madonna. But even before recording the first earnest vocal, Josiah (not to mention the major label cutting his checks) is facing one of the double-edged realities of reality TV: millions of people, it turns out, have already decided that they either love him or hate him.
Reacting to comments Leming made to MTV News about “Idol” during an exclusive studio visit in Los Angeles last week –- “glorified karaoke,” he called it –- one reader accused the 19-year-old high school dropout of sounding “jealous and petty,” while another sneered “this kid effin’ sucks.” Others see Josiah, recipient of the most talked about early-round pink-slip in “Idol” history, a bit differently. “Amazing,” says an admirer, touting the Tennessee-born troubadour’s songwriting ability as “unmatched by any other contemporary artist…a legend in the making.”
The lightning rod attracting all this attention, both good and bad, tells MTV News that he’s already written all the songs for his upcoming debut album, and completed the arrangements. But when we asked him to take a seat at the piano and play for us, Josiah chose to preview a track so new it didn’t make the cut. It’s an intensely personal song inspired by his mother’s ongoing battle with terminal cancer.
So check out the clip above and tell us: what do you think of Josiah’s musical chops?
You can also see an earlier performance Josiah gave MTV News, after the jump.
This isn’t the first time Josiah’s performed for us. Back in February, just weeks after “Idol” showed “the kid in the car” the door, we tracked him down in his hometown of Morristown, Tennessee. Down in the basement of the house he grew up in with his parents and eight brothers and sisters, Josiah pounded out “One Last Song” on the battered upright piano that can be seen in the various MySpace clips he posted long before “Idol” made him a household name. Incorporating footage we shot during our visit, we turned the intimate performance into a music video of sorts…