Accompanying Video Clip, Featuring ‘America’s Top Model’ Judge Nigel Barker,
Scheduled For National Network Launch; Song On iTunes
The world is poised to become slap-happy with the release of Norman Gentle’s debut single Tuesday, May 4.
The season eight “American Idol” top 25 finalist offers a saucy toast to outgoing judge Simon Cowell via his up-tempo sing-along anthem “Brit Slap!” featuring a maddeningly catchy chorus, throbbing beat and an accompanying video clip featuring a cameo from “America’s Top Model” judge Niger Barker (www.nigelbarker.tv), a cast of Broadway dancers—and Cowell himself (okay, as a stand-up cardboard cutout)—which literally stopped traffic in Manhattan’s Times Square as thousands of passers-by joined in the tribute.
Already, Gentle’s giant following has made the comedian a hero among “Idol” worshippers. When Norman, a.k.a. 27-year-old Nick Mitchell from Brookfield, Conn., ambushed the No. 1 TV show in North America last year, his slapstick persona served up unexpected vocal finesse, via a memorable performance of “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going” from “Dreamgirls,” which drew high praise from three of the four “Idol” judges. Perhaps not surprisingly, holdout Cowell scowled, “I hope I’m speaking on behalf of America when I pray you don’t go through to the next round.” All in love, yes?
While anxiously counting down his 15 minutes of fame, the mainstream media acknowledged Gentle’s headband-wearing, tuxedo jacket-sporting, khaki shorts-donning character as a bona fide talent. MTV News deemed his appearances an “insanely brilliant—if not brilliantly insane—move. We’ve made up our minds. Norman Gentle is the greatest contestant in ‘American Idol’ history.”
Fox News offered that he “might not be the most commercial contestant on ‘American Idol,’ but he’s certainly proved to be the most memorable.”
Even celebrities weighed in, with Ellen Degeneres—pre-“Idol” judge—saying, “He makes it interesting. I hope he makes it”; and Neil Patrick Harris commenting, “He’s the abomination of the show, everything (it) is not supposed to be, and I was laughing my head off.”
Subsequently, in 2010, Gentle and Mitchell were booked as a correspondent on the syndicated “Wendy Williams Show” (www.wendyshow.com), offering predictions about “American Idol” season nine. He, uh, they, have appeared weekly, opening the show and chatting with Williams about the leading finalists.
Gentle says, “I learned from ‘Idol’ that Simon Cowell inspires everyone to be their best true selves. His is like that little voice in everyone’s head demanding, ‘Get up and do it better!’ So I suppose I can honestly say that everything that’s happening to me now is his fault… I mean, to his credit. Thank you, big daddy. Who loves ya, baby?”
Gentle’s foray into the music business was hardly a conscious effort. Last fall, renowned music journalist Fred Bronson—an “Idol” expert and frequent guest on the show—gathered a random collection of allies for lunch in New York, including “Idol” alumni Kimberley Locke and Diana DeGarmo, legendary singer Neil Sedaka, fellow entertainment writer Chuck Taylor, and production duo DNA—Ayhan Sahin and Dennis DelGaudio—where it was suggested that Mitchell parlay Gentle toward a legitimate recording career.
“I was like, ‘you want me to sing? That’s silly. I’m a comedian,’” Gentle and Mitchell note in unison. “But Ayhan, who has staged a bunch of theatrical productions in Turkey, and Dennis, who was Billy Joel’s guitarist, pressed me to come to their studio in Brooklyn and toss around some ideas. They had this song that was a perfect send-off for Simon. I laughed my tuckus off. It was pretty much impossible to resist.”
Now signed to DNA’s Young Pals Records International, Gentle’s “Brit Slap!” launches on iTunes May 4, with the video clip set to debut on a national network in mid-May. In addition, the just-launched www.gentleofficial.com offers daily updates about his “Gentle-cosm,” including opinions on “American Idol,” tips for living Gentle-y, being a proper Gentle-man, Random Acts of Gentle-ocide, his support for animal rights, and other rants and raves about pop culture.
Gentle’s video shoot throughout New York fostered press in The Los Angeles Times, the NY Daily News, Life.com and CBS News online, while Nigel Barker, on his blog, noted, “(This) outlandish character is known for his theatrical performances, and unusual and flirtatious relationship with Simon Cowell. When asked to join him on the set of his music video, I couldn’t think of a better way to poke fun at my fellow Brit-transplant reality show judge. Adorned in matching red headbands, I joined Norman and had a great time.”
Following release of the single to iTunes and the North American debut of the video, additional footage will be available on YouTube and www.gentleofficial.com, while a second surprise slap will be announced May 25.
“Who’d have believed?” Mitchell, uh, Gentle, says. “Isn’t it wonderful to know that you don’t have to have a rich papa, a mountain of plastic surgery and Simon Cowell’s blessing to get a shot at the American dream? I feel Gentle-uinely blessed to have this opportunity to slap my positive vibe around the globe.”
MEDIA ALERT: To hear excerpt of “Brit Slap!” please access www.gentleofficial.com