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James Durbin - Pub Rock Live, Scottsdale - Wednesday, January 8

When someone becomes famous via a reality talent show but does not win it, a little familiarity with your times tables is helpful. Draw your finger across the years and then down the league tables and you'll get to season 10, fourth place, American Idol: James Durbin. He's the metal one from 2011 (when Scotty McCreery won), and you may have missed him if your favorite part of the show was Simon Cowell. What's James Durbin done in the two years since Idol? He released an album right away, Memories of a Beautiful Disaster, with cowrites from members of that dog. and Evanescence, that did good-but-not-great; another one's coming out in April.

He's stuck around on a big label, but that strange mix of cowriters illustrates the problem with being James Durbin: He doesn't quite fit anywhere except on American Idol as the metal one. Once that's not the case, he's a little too Idol to be metal or even post-grunge and a little too authentically hard rock to make a move all the way into pop. That's trouble if you're still looking to fill arenas, but Durbin's playing Pub Rock -- it might be that he'll never be famous again, but he's a safe bet to have the kind of career that would make most people on the outside of your Idol spreadsheet looking in a little jealous.

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