Two years ago, Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day” became the song that closed "Idol" each evening. Last year, it was Chris Daughtry’s compelling tune, “Home.”
And this year, for Hollywood week anyway, “American Idol’s” theme belonged to another new artist — 25-year-old Ferras — and his anthem, “Hollywood’s Not America.”
If you watched "Idol" last week, you know the song already – a tender male voice sings, “So long / Put your blue jeans back on girl / Go home / Remember, Hollywood’s not America” atop driving piano and a full orchestra. The cut sound tracked all of the emotional moments as the Top 24 finalists were chosen.
“That was one of the first songs that we wrote for the record,” Ferras said of the breakout single from his debut album “Aliens and Rainbows,” which is due April 1 on Capitol. “I was sort of sitting down with Lauren [Christy], who is part of [super production team] The Matrix. We were having a discussion about Hollywood and how just so much was going on in terms of the media and these young stars getting caught up in a lot of the paparazzi filled [moments].”
But did he have any particular stars or starlets in mind?
“I’m not gonna name names,” Ferras said politely. “I think we’re all pretty much aware of all the stars who have come out here and achieved so much so young and sort of realized, ‘Wow! I’m empty.’”
The song has a message to all those seeking fame and fortune, even if Ferras isn’t quite ready to take ownership of the advice.
“It’s about a girl who moves out here and achieves success and then is sort of empty at the end of the day,” he explained. “I’m definitely not somebody who can preach those things. It would be very hypocritical of me, but it’s also kind of a reminder to myself to stay grounded and realize there’s so much more to the whole Hollywood game than the insanity that is present.”
Lately though, Ferras has allowed himself to get caught up in a little bit of that fame he sings about. He spent last week being shuttled across the country for appearances on programs such as the “Today” show.
“I’m sort of floating around,” Ferras told Access. “Look, I had a really hard road getting a deal and I’ve had a lot of let downs. I’ve just been flung through the dredges of Hollywood and the record business.”
But Ferras’ tale isn’t the same as any other struggling artist. Before he made it to LA, scored his Capitol Records deal and recorded his debut with The Matrix (Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Avril Lavigne, Shakira, Josh Kelley), he had a childhood unlike many others.
Following his parents’ divorce, while still just a small boy, Ferras was kidnapped by his father and taken to the Middle East.
“When I was five, my dad had his first visitation, and decided that he wanted to take me to Disneyland — that’s what he told me. On the way there, we stopped and got a little Casio with like ten keys to keep myself busy,” he recounted. “When I got on the plane I realized I wasn’t going to Disneyland ‘cause everybody was speaking Arabic and um, it sort of ended up in Jordan… it was quite the experience.”
Three months later, Ferras was involved in a high stakes operation, which retrieved him back to the U.S.
“My mom worked with the embassy, a bunch of government sort of organizations and designed this sting operation to come over there and kidnap me back,” he explained. “If I really think about it I can [remember] the night we left and crawling out the window to make sure the coast was clear and sort of getting in the bottom of the cab and having a blanket thrown over me so nobody could see me. There’s certain things like that that I remember, but I think I kind of tried to block it out for most of my life.”
But the struggles of his youth led to his music career. Ferras said he wrote his first song while he was in Jordan missing his mother. And he never stopped writing.
Now, Ferras is spending time trying to enjoy his life as his first single takes over one of the country’s most beloved and watched shows.
“It sort of happened suddenly, so it was kind of shocking and it still is,” he said. “I’ve discovered friends in places I never even heard of or knew. People I haven’t heard from in like four years have been texting me and calling me and congratulating me. [My phone?] It’s been ringing off the hook!”