For many, James Durbin was the contestant to beat during Season 10 of American Idol.

The native Californian, who has a penchant for pro-wrestling, pulled at our heartstrings more than once during Idol‘s tenth season; after all, his pure and intense desire to make it in the music industry despite the many obstacles and setbacks he’d encountered was something so many of us could identify with (of course, we can substitute “music industry” with pretty much anything else).

Durbin wasn’t chosen during the Season 8 auditions, he had to come to terms with his musician father’s overdose, he was dealing with unemployment (made all the more desperate with a baby and young fiance to support), and he was managing Asperger’s syndrome, a high-functioning form of autism.

Over the course of the next few months, though, Durbin wowed the judges and audience alike with audition renditions of Aerosmith’s “Dream On” and Queen’s “Somebody To Love” and season performances including Bon Jovi’s “I’ll Be There For You,” Muse’s “Uprising,” and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” He rocked out with Judas Priest, covered Sammy Hagar’s “Heavy Metal” with Ozzy Osbourne’s former guitarist Zakk Wylde, and refused to take Jimmy Iovine‘s advice when it went against what he knew to be true to himself.

(Advice that would have, by the way, kept him from doing the Hagar cover and probably ultimately knocked him out of jamming with Wylde.)

He might not have won Idol, but Durbin showed us all just how hardcore the human spirit can be when it really, really wants something.

Actually, he’s still showing us. The rock star recently released his debut album, Memories of a Beautiful Disaster, which features not only Durbin’s amazing talent, but also boasts a list of collaborators that includes Evanescence founder Ben Moody, the Go-Gos’ Charlotte Caffey, and Motley Crue’s Mick Mars.

Um…HELLO.

Lindsay Parker of Yahoo! Music’s Reality Rocks blog recently was fortunate enough to sit down with Durbin to talk fans and haters, hair bands, and conquering Europe.  So for more Durbin goodness, head over and check out Part 1 and Part 2.

If YOU already have the new James Durbin album, or have listened to one or two songs, what’s your review?

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