Sunday, December 11, 2005

American Idolitis

You all know I am not a big TV watcher, but I have caught 2 or 3 episodes of American Idol. The ones I have seen were always from the very beginning of a new Idol search. Paula, Simon, and that other guy go to different cities where hundreds of wannabe singers try out for their chance at becoming the next Idol.

These Idol shows proved to be some of the funniest shows I have seen in recent times. Without a doubt I heard great singers, but some of the bad ones can really be quite funny.

Now, there are two types of bad Idol Wannabes (IWs.) The first type is the person who is bad beyond any shadow of a doubt. Often these people know they are bad, and they are just there to get their fifteen minutes of fame on national television. They go to work the next day and tell everyone how they tried out for Idol and how much fun they had. These aren't the ones I find particularly funny.

The funny ones are those that THINK they are Idol material, but even I know they aren't. They can (mostly) carry a tune, but they'll strain to hit notes, or sing through their nose or whatever. They probably sound great in the shower. And no one has likely ever told them they stink when they sing along to the radio. Ssome of them probably even had solos in the school choir concert or some community theater performance. But they just aren't worthy of a record contract... only they don't know it. And the FUNNY part is how SHOCKED they are when they find out.

The fact that these people are shocked to hear from the judges something that even *I* could have told them (if only they had asked...) makes me wonder how these particular IWs got there in the first place. In my mind, I am thinking that no one would ever go on one of those shows without some sort of assurance, from someone other than themselves, that they have an exceptional singing voice.

So, who, I am wondering, is deluded? The IW or his friends?

Could it be that IW's friends have said, "you sing really well" so many times that, somewhere in the IWs mind, it turned into "you sing better than most of the people in this country and should get paid to do it"?

Or could it be that the IW's friends just don't know what to listen for, and are gushing over someone who really is just an okay singer?

Either way, I'm thinking that these IWs had to have been told by enough people that they were good, without anyone ever telling them "your not THAT good."

Having said this, I must admit that I am not easily impressed. I am quite critical, if you haven't noticed. It doesn't have to be singing. I am critical of writing, speaking, dance, humor. You name it. I am critical. Whenever I take a survey where I have to rate things, I always end up rating things lower than everyone else. It isn't uncommon to find myself among a group of people who are raving about something - and I am wondering what in the world they are talking about.

These experiences, coupled with the IW phenomenon, have led me to the conclusion that people overdo compliments. Either they say things they don't mean (in an attempt to be kind?) or they just don't really know enough to be a good judge of the skill they are complimenting. I realize that I could be completely wrong about this. Perhaps I am just rationalizing my skepticism.

But all of this leads me to what I am currently contemplating:

There is something that I like to do that people have repeatedly told me I am good at. Mostly I have dismissed it. Dismissed it because it's something that a LOT of people think they are good at, when, in my opinion, they really aren't. Dismissed it because I figure my complimentors (with maybe only one exception) don't really know enough about what is required to be good at it. To be fair, I don't necessarily think anyone was saying that I was so good at this thing that it would make me famous. It's just that I keep thinking back to all of those poor IWs who are deluded by similar compliments. And if I let myself believe what I have heard, I am afraid I will end up making a fool of myself in front of people who WOULD know better, and would tell me to go home.

But I am going to pursue it anyway.

Just don't expect to see me on "Idol" any time soon!


Anonymous Cup-a-Joe said...

I have to admit to occasional delusions of grandeur much like that of the Idol Wanabes (IWs). I sing in the shower, I have sung backup vocals and an occasional lead in church (no great bastion of criticism there!) and I know people who write songs and one friend who has a minor recording contract. So logically I make the assumption that I am not any less of a singer than they, and surely I can be a singer myself... Then reality sets in.

I think so many people struggle to hold a simple note, that they over praise someone who can. I guess this only cheapens the praise given to those with exceptional voices... and no, I'm not one of them ;-)

Tue Dec 13, 06:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Cup-a-Joe said...

On a related note, has anyone seen the movie bodyguard? Not that I am advocating that you go out and see it, I remember it from my pagan days and cannot recommend it now.

But there is a great scene where Whitney Houston's sister (the actress who plays her) is singing a hymn on the backporch and she sounds great... until Whitney joins her with that ibg powerful voice and upstages her like someone suddenly turned on a spotlight. That I guess is the difference between the great and the mearly good. One sounds good until you hear them together. If they made the IWs sing together in a chorus first, many would probably slink away with their tails between their legs. Or maybe hope springs eternal...

Tue Dec 13, 06:41:00 AM  

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