This week on The View they’ve discussed American Idol almost every day. This year’s crop of singers has a lot of people with problems so severe–constantly flat, or simply can’t sing at all– that you have to wonder how they passed the audition process.  With thousands of people auditioning for them across the country, how are these singers the  best they could find?!  Even non-singers are saying, what happened?

Okay. To be honest, I have never been a fan of Idol, because as a jazz/opera/cabaret singer, I have no interest in watching a show that is a replay of every audition I’ve ever been endured.  It’s like a race car driver watching a program called “greatest race car crashes”.

The show’s producers don’t want real singers, because people singing well don’t make exciting viewing.  They’d rather get so-so or bad singers, and see if they can improve with coaching; or hope a bad singer can get enough sympathy voter support to stay on the show longer.  This makes the viewers keep watching (ratings) and voting(money from the text message fees, and advertisers). The fine print on these shows is that the producers reserve the right to make the final decisions–so they can override the decisions of the panel and the voters. And–I have to say it, Jennifer Holliday notwithstanding, because they hated her weight–for Idol it’s more important to have the Idol look, than to sing well.   It’s amazing–and sad–to see how few former idol winners are still out there performing. But I’m not surprised; many of them have no idea how to put together a program, or how to survive singing an entire show–which is different from singing one song.

Singers are encouraged to oversing (when in doubt, sing louder)and underthink(where is the real climax of this song; it’s NOT at the beginning) their songs. Eventually they reach the point where they don’t know what else they can do to improve their singing, because the only input they get is comments like, “I just wasn’t feeling you today”.   Singing is 95% mental, so if you don’t know how to fix what’s wrong,simply singing the song over and over won’t help you to improve. 

They had Barry Manilow coach the singers one year (while sneering at the very idea)and he tried to explain to the singers what they were doing wrong, and what they were doing right. The attitude of the judges towards Barry however,was so clearly negative that they contestants couldn’t understand why what he was telling them was important.  It’s too bad.  What the Idol contestants all really need is access to genuine vocal coaching so they can sing better, and sing smarter(you don’t need to scream to show intensity).  A performer like Barry Manilow who is still selling out venues after 40+ years in the business, would have a better idea what the singers need than say, a bass player, and a promoter.

But as long as the show has viewers, Idol will continue.  The pity is that people who watch the show think they are seeing good performances, but it just isn’t trueImage


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