TV: American Idol

Here's the question of the day: Are the bad singers on American Idol really that bad and do they really not know they are that bad?

I have a hard time watching American Idol because I don't really like to watch people being publicly abused and humiliated in front of large amounts of people (one reason I have never been able to get into any reality TV show on a long-term basis). I see excerpts from American Idol as I am flipping through to watch other things, and yes, I'm a sucker for an English accent even if Simon is mean.

It doesn't surprise me that they allow bad singers on the show. Simon can't say caustic things unless they do. What gets me is that these singers are surprised when Simon tells them they are bad. And some of them are crazy. Are they really that crazy? Are they really that surprised? This isn't a case of people who sing okay but not great or even people like me who are practically tone-deaf but can at least recognize the difference between notes (and who would never, never, never do something like American Idol anyway—talk about nightmare), these are people who just can't sing. And who think they can. Is it wishful thinking? Is it a blind spot?

And why singing? Or rather why singing in particular? Why not American Idol Garage Mechanics? I'd rather know how to change the oil in my car than sing. Is it because singing is easier to gauge than repairing a car? I think that is part of it, but I think there is another component as well: it isn't just American culture or for that matter 21st century culture that has promoted singers as the idols of their time. Even the Middle Ages did it, although "sing for me or die" has a different ring to it than "sing for me and get a $1 million contract." Human beings seem to have a fascination with the ability of the human frame to produce music.

And I suppose it is rather incredible when you think about it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Concerning the really bad singers, I've concluded that some are simply seeking attention, some are playing a joke but most are truly, genuinely tone deaf. They can identify only large changes in register. Upon hearing other really bad singers rejected by American Idol, I'm quite sure many of them say, with all sincerity, "why eliminate them, they were good!"

One thing to remember is that this is a TV show, not reality. It has been edited for effect AFTER already knowing much of the outcome (at least through the second round.) Note that they are NOT showing many of the people who will actually make it to the final twelve. I am curious, though, as to what the judges are thinking at times; they'll let someone who was clearly out of key through then toss the next person who wasn't.

My gut feeling? For ratings purposes, they are getting six to ten good contestants from each region--people who stand an actual chance of winning. The rest are there just for fodder, thus letting through clear losers.


1:07 PM  

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