American Idol Idiot
I have a dirty little secret I’d like to finally get off my chest. No, it’s not that! Everyone knows that I was born a woman! It’s that I like to watch American Idol, The Voice and X-Factor. I know that you’re thinking I should be cynical about these shows but I think these three shows are different from other “reality shows.” You’re right about most of those kinds of shows. I can’t stand shows with non-actors, celebrity dancers or some evil housewife. Who wants to watch these ordinary (or in most cases under-ordinary) people? And America’s Got Talent is as bad as the Gong Show ever was. Now I am not one who calls or texts in votes or downloads any of the performances and I would not buy the albums from any of these artists and do not go to any of their concerts when they tour. In fact, they rarely sing songs that I like and sing most of the songs that I hate, like “Take Another Little Piece Of My Heart”. Ugh! In fact half the time I’m yelling things like “You’re flat!” “Good God, that’s awful!” “That’s not the melody!” “Pick a song in your vocal range, you idiot!” “You’re in the wrong key!” “You sound EXACTLY like Dave Matthews!” So why do I watch?
When singers audition for these the shows they are at various stages of their careers. There is everyone from young phenoms who seem born to sing. Young, raw talents that need to hone their natural abilities into a craft. American Idol season 10 winner Scotty McCreery is in this category. Then there are those who manage to put together a few good performances but never seem to blossom any fuller. They’re decent singers who will sing their whole lives, but probably not professionally for very long. These shows are full of these kinds of singers. Then there are experienced singers who never got the right break along the way or got in with sleazy managers, agents and record companies and never were able to make their talent into much money. There is so much luck in show business and they haven’t had much. I’m sure many of these performers leave the show and get in with a brand new, higher class of sleazy managers, agents and record companies, but that’s the industry.
No matter where they start, the show puts them through a series of tests and opportunities to improve their skills. On American Idol, it’s group singing and multiple performances in front of the judges. On The Voice, it’s Battle Rounds and Knock-out Rounds. Then these artists perform before cameras and millions of viewers and take praise and criticism from judges and then either grow as artists or not. This is an enormous opportunity to showcase their talents in front of a worldwide audience. If they are smart and have any enduring talent, they can parley this exposure into a career. Each artist is challenged to reach the American people with their voice and stagecraft. Some do, most don’t. As you watch the show, you begin to appreciate these artists as people and root for (or against) them. To make it through 12 rounds of voting is a daunting task that usually yields a pretty skilled performer. Try to get that kind of experience in that short of time anywhere else. Whether you agree with the results or not, they are based upon merit and the reliably terrible taste of the American public, but that’s beside the point.
Why do I watch? In a world of participation trophies, I enjoy watching people grow and achieve success based upon their accomplishments, not phony praise from well-meaning friends and family. And honestly, what’s better than watching people’s dreams come true?