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Idol thoughts from an idle mind

Posted Tuesday, June 2, 2009, at 2:21 PM

I admit it.

I could hold out no longer.

I finally caved in to the mounting pressure.

Over the course of its first eight seasons, I can proudly say that I did not witness one nano-second of Fox's mega-smash hit, American Idol.

Of course as the TV show grew in popularity (almost overnight it seemed) I heard people talk about the show, discussing who would be the next contestant voted off and who had done the best job the night before and who wore what on the show and how crazy Paula Abdul was ... blah, blah, blah.

Still, I would not be swayed into sitting down long enough to see Carrie Underwood or Jennifer Hudson or Taylor Hicks or David Cook (yet I still know their names. Aha, the power of mass-media) croon in front of a jillion spell-bound people.

Even this year when Conway's own Kris Allen battled through odds long and hard to make it into the final 10, I cast not one eye to the television.

I did, however, hear the loud cheers and the spirited discussion raging from my living room as my wife and son became entrenched in American Idol's spell the last month or so.

"Did Danny get voted off?" "I don't think Anoop will make it." "Adam has got the look of a rock-n-roll star."

That was what I heard - not from Randy, Kara, Paula and Simon ( American Idol's judges in case you're like me and had no clue), but from my own family.

I knew then that my time was at hand.

They would not rest until I was pulled in the orbit of American Idol.

Sure enough, when the competition was pared down to the final two - Kris Allen and Adam Lambert, my whole wall of staunch resistance came crashing down with a thud.

I sat down and watched the show that would determine America's next superstar.

And in the end, I'm glad I did. Because it confirmed just what I thought for going on eight years now.

American Idol is one big glorified karaoke contest.

I watched as the final two contestants belted out what just so happens to be a couple of my favorite soul songs of all time.

Adam did Sam Cooke's marvelous "A Change is Gonna Come" and Kris preformed Bill Withers' superb "Ain't no Sunshine."

And both cats can flat-out sing, no doubt about it. Adam and Kris both have world-class pipes at their disposal.

But to me, that's beside the point. And as for all the "voting conspiracy" that has the nation in such an uproar - I really don't care about that. Kris won fair and square as far as I'm concerned and that's that.

Apparently, Kris is now set to conquer the pop charts while Adam may be the next lead singer in Queen.

But both just seem wrong to me.

I thought the road to fame and fortune in the music industry was paved with a lot of disappointments, setbacks and other trials and tribulations, all accumulated over the course of several years of struggle.

It's about getting out on the road - night after night, week after week - and proving yourself over and over again.

About having the desire and determination to let nothing stand in your way.


About writing and re-writing your own songs. Pen to paper for hours at a time.

Sometimes you play to an empty club, drive 12 hours through the night and on into the next day, only to play to another empty club.

That's what makes real musicians.

In the real world, talent only goes so far.

Sure, you may be able to sing with the best of them, or play guitar, drums or keyboards like nobody's business, but that's just a starting point.

The true test lies in your ability to get out and spread your message, one person at a time.

I mean, it would be nice to get up on stage and play to a packed house on national television, but the odds of that happening right off the bat are not very good.

Unless you're talking about a made-for-TV contest like American Idol.

So instead of the time-honored, traditional way of artists being born, we now get the American Idol way.

Kinda like microwave popcorn - poof! There's your latest pop-singing sensation, fully developed and ready to go.

Now that I have at least experienced what I had been missing out on for the past eight years, I think I'll have to sit out season nine.

But at least I'll get to hear Kris Allen on the radio every two or three minutes for the next couple of years.

That should more than make up for it.

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Massive fail. A five-minute google search would give you all the info needed to come up with an *informed* opinion regarding both Kris and Adam and the previous experience both have had with the recording industry.

You seem to be of the opinion that both came out of the womb with the ability to sing as they did on the show without putting in the necessary blood, sweat, tears, etc. Frankly, the idea is laughable.

-- Posted by holicanmc on Tue, Jun 2, 2009, at 7:47 PM

I want to be articulate here, so that you understand my point, without writing me off as just another fan. First off, I appreciate that you did comment that the 2 finalists this year really can sing. A lot of American Idol detractors seem to feel the need to back up their opinions with negative comments about the contestants, either about their musical abilities, or something more personal. I happen to have watched all of the seasons of American Idol, and I have enjoyed most seasons, more or less. I became a massive David Cook fan after watching last years show, and I admit that until he was on the show, I just watched it for the entertainment value it provided and never gave much thought to what kind of musicians these people were before they went on the show, what type of "dues" they had paid in the past. Perhaps if I'd given it any thought at all, I would have thought as you do, that they hadn't paid any prices, made any sacrifices to be there. But becoming a true fan of David's, with more than just a casual interest in him, I found out HIS story isn't unlike what you were saying you thought was the way to making it big in the music business. He started out playing in a band in his garage at 15. He played in dumps, dives and empty bars, driving 12 hours to play in another one. He played throughout high school and college, playing where ever he could get a gig. He moved after college to play in Tulsa with another group and his friends & family helped him scrape together the money to record a solo independent album that sold 1000 copies in a year. He was desperately determined to make a living making music, even if it meant bartending to scrape by at clubs so he could get up and play too. Does this not sound like the "traditional" route to make it big that you were speaking of? Do we now write him off as someone we shouldn't admire or enjoy his music less because he decided to try another, less common route to give his music more exposure and find a fan base? Perhaps it's time to realize that with the advent of YouTube, ITunes, MySpace and other "routes" that there is no longer one "real" way to make it in the music business anymore. Surely we can make room for anyone who has talent and can capture our attention, no matter what "route" they had to take to get there. Let's just admire their determination to make it and let their talent speak for itself.

-- Posted by kentuckykat on Wed, Jun 3, 2009, at 4:04 PM

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Terry Mullins, Sports Editor
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Since my own high school sports career fizzled out before it really reached its zenith, I have managed to live vicariously through the student/athletes of the 16 high schools I've covered for Areawide Media since 2001. I've witnessed the highest of highs in the form of state championships. I have also seen first-hand the sting of disappointment when the ultimate prize was within reach, but still eluded the grasp of its pursuer. But through all the ups and downs associated with high school sports, my respect for the young competitors that suit up each night, along with the men and women who guide them, remains unwavering. Blog mission: With my passion for music, especially live music, running second only to my passion for sports, I'll try to devote this space to both. Especially when it concerns our region and what's happening around it. Look for commentary and features on area sports figures and musicians, along with things to get out and do in the beautiful Spring River/Ozarks area. But I'll not totally ignore the outside - I'll also hit on some national happenings in the wide worlds of sports and music.
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