James Durbin Overcome with Emotion on American Idol

In what could be one of the most emotional performances in recent memory on American Idol, James Durbin performed "Without You, a powerful ballad by Harry Nilsson from the 1970′s. It was the second performance of the night for Durbin, who also sang "Closer to the Edge," a song that he used to open the show. Durbin’s second performance, however, is what American Idol fans will undoubtedly be talking about at the water cooler tomorrow morning.

Durbin became emotional and nearly broke down, both during and after his performance. He was also emotional during rehearsals and noted that the song reminded him of his wife, Heidi and young son, Hunter. Additionally, after his performance, Durbin pointed to the sky, presumably acknowledging his father who died when he was only nine-years-old.

From a technical standpoint, it was one of Durbin’s weakest performances of the season. However, his raw emotion and emotionally moving performance didn’t leave many dry eyes in the audience.

On Twitter and in message forums, people are already commenting how James needs to do a better job of keeping his emotions in check. What many may not realize, however, is that James has been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and a characteristic of the disorder for some (not all) is the tendency to become overly-emotional in certain situations. Coupled with the many months away from his family and his long journey to get where he’s at, it’s understandable why James was so moved this evening.

While it wasn’t his best performance, James Durbin once again proved that he is a well-rounded artist who has much to offer and should be performing in the American Idol finals later this month.

20 Responses to James Durbin Overcome with Emotion on American Idol

  1. Greg Archer says:

    great post. thanks…. moving indeed…
    check out our hometown vid of James’ fans in Santa Cruz.
    greg archer


  2. Lori L. Adragna says:

    James, You are truly an inspiration!! Definitely my favorite… I would love to see you perform Dynamite by AC DC. Just love you… Not only because you are an amazing artist, but just because of who you are… I hope you win, good luck and God Bless to you and yours… Lori

  3. Angela Wilson says:

    You summed it up very well. James is not your “typical contestant. I think he has held composure from week to week with the best of charm. I have a 7 yrs old with Autism and he loves James as do I. It makes my heart sing with joy that James is not afraid to be real in front of America. Dealing with emotions in the number one problem with our kids and he has set the bar high for us. He has shown OUR kids are not a stero-type. They are smart, sensitive, amazing, talented, and capable of anything their heart desires with hard work. I hope to see James win but if not he is a shining star in the world of music and in the world of Autism. God bless his family for being strong during this time and stand behind him all the way. I have enjoyed watching the Book of James unfold and it is pretty amazing!!!

  4. lori says:

    james was far from my favorite in the beginning as i have come away from rock over time. HOWEVER . . . the last few weeks i am sunk in deep.

    “and i just want to say” that i didn’t hear one wrong note or one broken phrase in james’ version of what was a somewhat corny song by Harry Nilsson.
    as far as i’m concerned, james made it real.

  5. carol says:

    I never watched idol before this season and happened to see it when James Durbin preformed and I became hooked. James Durbin is the reason and the only reason I watch idol. He can sing and perform like no one else on the show. He is by far the most talented on the stage. If he goes, idol goes. I will NEVER watch the show again. I think Lauren and Scotty are good country singers, but that is all they can do. All their music sounds the same. James, you will go far. With or without idol. The people that will buy your music are not teenage girls, but adults (with money) and appreciation for real talent!

  6. Nikki says:

    James is a hero.. he has so much love for his son and wife.. my family luvs him! We hope u win James!

  7. Shelby says:

    James I am so happy and proud of you. So much love from the bay area that you call home. Beyond your talent people should look at the person you are already at such a young age. Your values about what is most important in this short life in cherishing what we have in our loved ones is so beautiful. You bring fun and inspiration to many through their struggles including myself. I so can’t wait to be there for homecoming festivities

  8. Eileen Girtanner says:

    James Durbin is a great singer, and person. He better win American Idol since he certainly deserves it. I am praying for him.

  9. darrell jantz says:

    amazing voice and delivery style.would like to hear james sing “winner takes it all”

  10. Candace says:

    Hunter was 2 yrs. old on Sunday, I’m sure he misses his family very much. I felt I needed to educate someone on Facebook who asked “why are you always blinking and making faces, James?” People need to pay attention before they fire off rude comments. As a Northern Californian, I’m really proud of James and he has my votes until he wins! He set his own bar very high, last week, with “Will you still love me to tomorrow?” However, there were no dry eyes in my house last night.

  11. ANNA MILLER says:


  12. MJ says:

    James seems like a nice person. However, when it comes to his singing, he is COMPLETELY mediocre. If he was unable to screech he wouldn’t have even made it past the audition. America is blind to actual talent. I cringe every time I hear him sing. American Idol has dissapointed me this year with their unconditional support of James. It’s obvious he has been pre-determined by the show to win, (God only knows why) as evidenced by the unfair advantages he’s been afforded, in the form of celebrity musicians, marching bands, pyrotechnics, etc… None of the other contestants have been allowed to do this. Why him? He needs to go, right after Jacob…

  13. kalola says:

    MJ……you are a sad…sad…human being. You probably can’t sing a note let alone do what James Durbin has done! Lets do this….you get up there and sing in front of millions of people and let everybody critique you. I’m pretty sure you won’t be making fun of anybody else after that…but then again…you probably will. Also…everyone in that competition is allowed to use any kind of prop they want. Obviously they don’t want to!

  14. MJ says:

    I’m pretty sure I wasn’t making fun of him. I just said that he’s mediocre talent and that he doesn’t belong there. The others don’t use the props because they don’t need to. They have enough talent to compete without them.

  15. BC says:

    MJ – You say the show is letting James do things the other contestants can’t. That’s false. They detailed on one episode that each of the contestants design their own performance, including the stage show. If the others want pyro, drummers or Zak Wylde (it says something that he would say yes to James), they’re free to do so (assuming they could get a guy lik Zak to say yes…). James is a great talent and one I will spend money on.

  16. MJ says:

    It’s a free country. You can waste as much money as you want on a James Durbin concert. That same freedom also allows me to express my opinion. I haven’t been rude or vulgar, just matter of fact. I am willing to accept your point of view as just that, YOUR point of view. Why can’t you do the same? I guess I was unaware of the fact that this blog was strictly for James Durbin promotion and that all of you on here are unwilling to listen to any opinion that doesn’t mesh with your own. From now on I’ll try to stick to blogging with people that are able to entertain a little broader view.

  17. MJ says:

    And one more thing… If you think Zak Wilde cares about James Durbin and that his performance on the show was anything other than self promotion, then I think you are mistaken. Celebrities attend the show every week to promote their own projects. Zak Wilde saw an opportunity to appear on national tv and show his talent(which is great, by the way) to a much broader audience than he currently enjoys, and he took it. Nothing more, nothing less. Zak Wilde was not a household name to most Americans. Now many more people recognize him. I’d be willing to bet his album sales greatly increased the next day…

  18. 50D says:

    MJ –

    Duh! Look at the name of this blog: Autism Key, Support for the Autism Community. You are right, it is a free country and you can say what you want. But for god sakes, get real, this is a support blog for people with autism. Do you really think this is the right forum for you? I’m sure there are many other forums where you can post. But leave us be here to support someone who has shone a light in the lives of our children. We are not delusional, we are inspired. Why don’t you find something that inspires you – elsewhere.

  19. Mary says:

    I don’t post on these things but had to get my word out and say, “unbelievable…absolutely unbelievable that he was voted off”. how is that possible. If you came to Chicago for a concert, I WOULD B THERE!! and i don’t even like heavy metal. James Durban rocks!!!

  20. Connie says:

    Loved James, Cant believe he was eliminated. My votes were for him. Ur a great singer don’t give up I know u have a future in this business. Sincerely, Connie

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