Friday, January 19, 2007

They're Back: American Idol Wannabes

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Something ain't right in American Idol land. My husband loves the 'try-out' shows of AI. I hate them.

"They're staged," he says.

"But Greg, that guy is crying. He thinks he can sing." I reach for my stomach. It hurts.

He laughs, "They have to be acting. They have to be. Listen to that guy."

An associated press story and other reporters tell me otherwise and I can't wait to tell my husband. My biggest question is what's wrong? Why do so many of the hopefuls believe they are the next American Idol? All I can believe is they are tone deaf. Are their parents, cousins, co-workers and friends tone deaf too?

Thirty one percent of teenagers, according to a recent poll, believe one day they will be famous. Something is terribly wrong with that picture. Author Jake Halpern tells us in Fame Junkies that 43.4 percent of teenage girls want to be a celebrity assistant. Why? If they can't be famous themselves, they can at least "smell the red carpet".

Here's the truth. Author Steven Pressfield (of Baggar Vance fame) said it. "We are not born with unlimited choices. We can't be anything we want to be." After listening to hours and hours of people who don't know otherwise, I have no doubt Simon Cowell would agree.

Fact. I cannot be a NBA player. For beginners, I'm short and can't jump. Here's another fact. I will never be an American Idol. Forget that I'm too old. I'm neither tone deaf nor delusional. Even though I can carry a tune, I am not Carrie Underwood. And I sure as hell don't sound anything like her.

Steven Pressfield said something else important, "We must do 'our' work for its own sake, not for fortune or attention or applause." It's the key ingredient AI contestants are missing. In time the attention and applause will go away. Even a tone deaf observer will eventually stop clapping. Certainly we can all agree, they are not doing it for the money.

Except, that is, for overnight IA sensation William Hung. Hung's rendition of Ricky Martin's "She Bang" made him a pop culture oddity. Audiences paid to see him and a record company signed him on the dotted line. Even though the AI judges said no, Hung got the attention, applause and money anyway.

The other AI wannabes haven't been as lucky. The applause is over. Surely the singing will stop too. You think?

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