There is a saying that “those who cannot do, teach. ” Today, it seems as though the age old adage should be adapted to, those who cannot do, we will give you an opportunity to be on national TV, and then either make fun of you, or exploit you. It is very disheartening, but what does it say about the industry of musical entertainment?
There was a time when stars were born. It appears now that stars are made. When Simon Cowell says “I like you”, his simple phrase can supercede any lack of talent that a hopeful may have. And of course, Randy will fall all over himself to make sure that his opinion aligns with that of Simon’s. The interesting thing is that Simon Cowell is generally the most correct in his quick assessment of an contestants’ abilities. The problem occurs when his manly sensibilities override his artistic discernment, and he is captivated by a feminine wile. Perhaps he is demonstrating to the world just how secondary musical ability has become due to the advances in digital technology.
There was a time when Simon, love him or hate him, was almost one hundred percent successful in recognizing talent, and culling through the drek. Most recently, it seems that Simon has become susceptible to falling for “looks”. Unfortunately, these looks must be so appealing, that it causes him to lose his hearing. When one considers the most recent auditions, one contestant wore a bikini, to whom Simon said “I like you”. Later he delivered lukewarm criticism to one who had a beautiful voice with potential. It gives one reason to wonder what has happened to his judgment. Perhaps his hearing was better when he kept his eyes closed as he used to do.
It is nice to hear that the show is less worried about creating a freak show this season. Although, don’t kid yourself. The freaks are still happy to be on display. What message does this latest twist in the shows’ “selection” philosophy send to young hopefuls? Don’t worry about your talent, just show up in skimpy clothing. That is what Simon really likes, and Randy will blindly agree. Or, if you really have no talent, but are really daring, just show up and pretend to be sincerely convinced that you have talent, and they still might put you on TV. The more outlandish the better! You might even go viral on YouTube. Hello, American Idol talent screeners, where are you? If they truly seek talent, then why, out of thousands of hopefuls, do they select such a garish array to put through to the judges. If it were about talent, surely, they would find a stronger mix. The talent is out here.
Of course marketability comes into play whenever you are discussing entertainment. “You gotta have a gimmick” has been redefined. If you have a gimmick that will make someone money by exploiting you for 2 minutes of fame, they will gladly do so. However, if you have a “look “that will make them money for a season, they really don’t care how well you sing, so long as they can choose and use you to fool America. After all, Simon knows better than anyone, amazing things can be accomplished in a post production recording studio environment. If he is excited by you, then he can get American voters excited by you. If he remains excited by you, then he can get media excited by you, which translates into sales.
For young hopefuls who would like to become a part of the great industry of entertainment, there are better ways to become successful. Get as much experience as you can. Practice your craft and audition locally. Remember, the chance of becoming a mega star in this day and age is very slim. The market has changed, and there are many players who may have more connections, more money, or just something different than what you have on a national level. It does not mean that your dreams are not valid. Auditioning in such a subjective realm as American Idol may not be the optimal way to the golden ticket of success. Auditioning locally allows you the opportunity to become known within a smaller region. You can also have the benefit of moral support from family, friends and co-workers. Local reviews and response can still be harsh if you are not right for this industry, but at least you can save yourself the pain of being unnecessarily humiliated on a national forum.
One only needs to look at the hit or miss marketing strategy launched for some of those who have won in seasons past. If they weren’t one of Simon’s “model” marketing packages, how hard were they marketed? One of the best talents American Idol ever discovered, Ruben Studdard, disappeared. What message do you suppose that sent to the millions of hopefuls who voted for him? What message does it send to talented singers who do not fit the mold of Simon’s Idol image? It appears as though Simon’s ideal image of an American Idol is supposed to suit us all.