For many music lovers, American Idol (which kicked off its 15th and final season last night) has brought the world some of the most talented individuals to hit the music scene in the last 14 years, with everyone from Jennifer Hudson and Carrie Underwood to Fantasia Barrino and Ruben Studdard winning the hearts of Americans while murdering the Billboard charts and the Nielsen ratings during its heyday.
Surprisingly, it was one audition in Atlanta that aired six years ago that blew all of those accolades away. See, the audition process might actually be some of the best TV out there; getting to see a singer get in front of seasoned veterans and live or die by that one performance can be nerve-racking, awe-inspiring, or in the case of the then-62-year-old General Larry Platt, one of the greatest, most hilarious auditions of all time.
The key here is his age; at the time, the age requirements were from 15 through 28, so seeing a (much) older gentleman walk into the room to perform was already a "let's humor this guy" kind of thing. It's hard to know what Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, or Mary J. Blige were thinking Larry Platt was going to do, but we imagine they weren't up on his history...or what he was capable of.
It's hard to call what Platt was doing "singing." He's a fit old guy with shades walking in saying he'd be doing his song about people who "need to pull their pants up." One might imagine some kind of soul-singing or doo-wop going down, but the good General comes out the box turnt, chanting about people "looking like a FOOL" with their pants on the ground, bopping, spinning, hitting some ridiciulously-high notes. His routine puts MJB da MVP into hysterics, and by the time he hits a split, everyone is pissing themselves.
Sure, grandpa's routine was totally insane, but you have to applaud his determination, and his message is one that has been ringing in black communities for a while. When one does the knowledge on what Larry Platt's about, it's actually an intriguing story.
"General" Larry Platt is a civil rights activist who had been performing "Pants on the Ground" since 2001 in Atlanta as part of a campaign to get kids from sagging their pants after being disgusted seeing a young guy in Atlanta with his pants sagging and a pacifier in his mouth. Prior to his 2010 American Idol appearance, Platt even performed the song in 2008 and 2009 at the Centennial Olympic Park and Sweet Auburn Heritage Festival, respectively. As the story goes, Platt was encouraged by another civil rights activist, Sally Harley, to bring the song to the nation via American Idol, and after repeated rejections due to his age, he was thrown on last and gave the now-viral performance.
What's wild is the song actually got produced and recorded "Pants on the Ground," releasing it in February of 2010 on American King Music, which reportedly clocked over 260,000 downloads.
In the years since "Pants on the Ground" became a viral sensation, Platt's star hasn't been that bright. There were allegations of Platt stealing "Pants on the Ground" from The Green Brothers' 1996 song "Back Pockets on the Floor," and he had to dodge rumors of his own death in August of 2010.
Since then, his life in the public eye seems to have been much quieter, probably because sagging your pants isn't the style anymore. Maybe we have "General" Larry Platt to thank.