As another edition of American Idol began, the judges were already out there singing the praises of the show and the current crop of crooners. During several television guest spots, Randy Jackson told viewers that the new crop of pop star wannabes were the best ever. Simon was equally optimistic, but only because of changes he thought would make the series a better television show. Paula was Paula, ever optimistic and hopeful. That was American Idol Classic before all the new judges, changes and program juggling started.
Despite all the hoopla and changes, ratings dipped a bit during the last few AI incarnations and some of the choices made by the judges in the early auditions had viewers scratching their heads. Was the show about musical talent or ratings grabbing gimmicks? It seemed as though some contestants were allowed in because of some tragedy in their lives, while others just seemed to meet some bizarre criteria that went against the usual formula required to create a pop star.
Watching American Idol is fun, but being a part of the competition is not. That's especially true if you don't belong in the competition from day one. While AI classic seasons may have been about looking for the next big pop star, the current show is a hybrid that may be no friend to the recording industry. It's obvious that keeping fans of the show happy may have become a bigger priority than churning out chart-topping hits.
Jordin Sparks became an audience favorite during season seven and won the competition, but hasn't been able to translate her AI fame into real musical success. Taylor Hicks got his shot when he won season five, but wasn't able to reach a wide enough audience to achieve solid fame. Taylor and Jordin are perfect examples of what Idol can and can't do for the winners. AI can give people their big break, but cannot guarantee them future success once the cameras are not on them each week and the hype of the competition ends.
The lesson learned is that American Idol isn't just about musical talent anymore and seems subject to manipulation by many internal and external forces. Before you decide to try-out for AI, decide what you can bring to the series and what you can expect out of the opportunity. If you just want to look stupid on TV and have no talent, put on a silly costume, paint your teeth various colors and be prepared to stand around for many hours for the privilege. If you're aiming for a singing career, it's a terrific showcase as long as you got the right stuff and the whole package.
AI has proven that many people who believe they are wonderful performers are not. The best way to find out is not always the most painful. If you're in high school or college, ask an impartial person like a chorus or music teacher (that doesn't offer voice lessons or know you too well) to rate your ability to sing and perform. If you don't mind being embarrassed and can deal with the pain of rejection, sign up for most any local singing or performance competition and see how you rate before strangers.
If you discover that you really have a voice and can make it work for you, decide if you have the whole package. You need the look. Whether we like it or not, a great voice just isn't enough. You also need a fabulous or unique appearance, lots of charisma and the ability to perform in a manner that pleases people. Being a serious contender or winner on AI is all about pleasing others, not you. Don't brag about how much people love to hear you sing in Church or during the opening of sporting events at the local high school or college. While the AI folks may be interested in that information later, all they really want to know up front is if you have the look and level of talent they're looking for during a particular season.
The Idol formula has become a complicated one that will almost certainly guarantee success or failure for people that are chosen to compete. Some are there to shine, while others are probably picked to keep the show interesting, amusing and diverse. Those are the facts of life for a series that produces good ratings and nice profits. If you can't afford to emotionally or financially bet the farm on ending up in the top ten, don't bother competing.
Learning the Dos and Don'ts of Idol success is easier than you think. Start by learning from the winners and losers. Watch the early auditions and notice the changes as the season progresses. Take particular note of wardrobe changes, performance changes, reactions of the judges and what makes everyone love or hate a particular contestant. Look at the winners and top ten contenders that have successfully sold their music and see if you have what they do. And make SURE you can remember the words to a wide variety of songs. Forgetting the lyrics will get you out the door on a rocket.
If you have a sad story, have it down and practiced before showing up at the auditions. If you are depending solely on your talent and performing ability, make sure both are up to pare. Practice three or four songs that best showcase your voice until you dream about singing and performing them in your sleep. Don't choose songs that the judges say they like, because they may not like your rendition of them. Choose popular songs that people know and you are able to flawlessly perform.
Categorize yourself (the Idol people certainly will). Check out as many magazines, web sites and social networking sites as you can. Find musicians, actors, performers and models with your basic type of appearance and develop your own look from there. Be yourself, but don't move too far away from what people expect to see when they look at you. Despite what everyone says, safe is still the order of the day if you expect to be chosen to compete, have a chance at winning and turn that chance into a career.
If you're lucky enough to get in front of the current crop of judges, be ready for your big moment. Applied pressure is part of the audition process and you'll feel lots of it going in. The judges are looking for a cool calm, confidence on tap tons of real talent. They want performers that make a very strong and positive first impression. Your best bet is to walk in, make lots of eye contact with the judges, find your sweet spot and answer questions simply with conviction. Most importantly, rock the house! Forget the lights, cameras and crew.
AI involves a process and anyone wanting to make it to the elimination competition has to be willing to tackle that system head on. This involves lots of patience and support from friends and family. The more people you have on your side from day one, the better off you are. Idol doesn't rarely favors lone wolf contestants that arrive without a reasonable entourage. That's because they know how important and helpful support from friends and family can be as things move forward. Not only does it make for good television, but having some familiar faces around in a sea of strangers can give almost any contestant an instant edge over others that don't have that kind of on the spot support.
Making it on to American Idol is like trying to land your dream job. Anyone wanting to be a part of the AI experience has to be willing to fight for the right. They must be prepared to produce their talent on demand and stay focused on their goals. Boundless energy and the ability to learn fast, work and perform well with others are essentials. Idol means exposure to a massive audience including talent scouts. It's not a place to develop an attitude problem, second guess your talent or doubt your ability to perform. It's a showcase that provides talented and energetic performers with a chance to make their dreams come true.
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