Idols rock South Korea, admiration mutual
August 13, 2012
CAMP CASEY, South Korea -- It was a love affair between Idols and their fans.
Eight top American Idol finishers from the past three seasons brought their brand of Hollywood entertainment here for the troops, civilian employees and their families a mere 11 miles from the DMZ. Idol favorites Creighton Fraker, Jen Hirsh, Jovany Javier, Ashthon Jones, Aaron Marcellus, John Wayne Schulz, Lauren Turner and Rachel Zevita gave as much as they got during the Idols World Tour performance.
The Idols collectively kicked off the nearly two-hour performance with the Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" which spent 14 weeks atop the Billboard Top 100 in 2009.
Ten songs into the 36-lick concert, Idols host Javier addressed the nearly 700 gathered in Carey Fitness Center.
"We're really excited to be here, Camp Casey," said the handsome, bilingual 24-year-old of Cuban descent. "We're so thankful and privileged to be performing for you all."
The performance amounted to a musical parade through the past six decades, reaching as far back as Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" from 1969. But more recent years were well represented -- no fewer than 26 were hits from the past decade. Many were performed on the American Idol TV show.
The sexy and beauteous Jones, all in black except for turquoise high heels, whipped the troops into a frenzy serenading several of the 20 Soldiers gathered on stage with Justin Bieber's up-tempo rhythm and blues hit, "Baby." She went on to wow them with Beyonce's "Love on Top" and duets of "I Will Follow" and "Don't You Wanna Stay" with Marcellus and Schulz, respectively.
Schulz, a 24-year-old cowboy from Karnes City, Texas, who released an album "Ropin' Dreams" at 14, appealed to the crowd with country favorites like "Chicken Fried," "Friends in Low Places" and "American Soldier," the latter drawing a thunderous applause and standing ovation.
The concert ended with an encore to the 1981 Journey anthem "Don't Stop Believin.'" Soldiers from the 302nd Brigade Support Battalion and from each troop of the 4th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, joined the performers on stage -- in such a state of excitement they were jumping up and down as they lifted their respective unit colors and sang along heartily with their favorite Idols.
At the conclusion, Brig. Gen. J. B. Burton, deputy commanding general of maneuvers, 2nd Infantry Division, presented the Idols with a memento of their visit -- a framed tomahawk -- symbolic of the Indianhead division.
"This is to remind you that it's always Warrior time," he said to the performers.
Pvt. Rebekah Krylo from Battery G, 1st Battalion, 15th Field Artillery, had spent most of the nearly two hours on her feet near the stage. She recalls watching American Idol since its first season and wasn't disappointed.
"It was awesome," the 21-year-old Bueno Park, Calif. native said. "I loved it! They were very entertaining and crowd-motivating. I enjoyed it immensely."
The Idols took time to pose with their fans for photographs after the show.
If the fans were thrilled with the Idols, some post-concert social media postings showed the Idols were thrilled with the fans.
"Just finished a show here at Camp Casey in Korea!!!! The crowd was AWESOME!!!!!!!!" Jones said via her Twitter account."
"Just had our first show for South Korean and American soldiers…feeling super humbled and all warm and fuzzy," said Hirsh on her official Web site.
The Idols also had a short meet-and-greet performance for the troops at Camp Bonifas the day before.
The concert was part of Armed Forces Entertainment's worldwide tour that began June 28 at Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, Greece, and ends at Naval Base Guam Aug. 24.