I love the show American Idol. It’s like a circus, complete with clowns and balloons and the evil Simon Sinister (boo, hiss). My favorite part is when the show goes from own to town auditioning the locals. It’s amazing to see the wide range of talent out there. You have some extremely talented singers with exceptional vocal ability and style. Then you have your CCV—creatively challenged vocalists a.k.a. non-singers.
On American Idol, Paula Abdul and my dog Randy Jackson constantly berate Simon for his somewhat insensitive and boorish comments to the contestants. While I don’t always agree with him, I can relate to his displeasure with the completely oblivious people who get up there to perform and have absolutely no clue as to their lack of talent as singers. If they were seriously interested in pursuing careers as artists in the music industry, they would take the necessary steps to develop their talent. If they didn’t put the work in but have the nerve to get up and sing in front of millions of people, then I have no sympathy for them when they get laughed off the stage. I would not walk into a hospital pretending I’m a surgeon, or walk into Carnegie Hall pretending to be a concert cellist. But night after night these individuals come to the show, believing that with no training and no singing or performing experience, they have a genuine shot at getting a million dollar recording contract. Yes, even if they’ re tone deaf.
The ability to make ridiculous amounts of money and gain the adoration of millions of fans is very appealing. For some, the siren song is too strong to resist, and they decide that becoming famous is their ultimate goal. But fame is a by-product of extraordinary achievement or unique characteristics in a specific area, and should not be the goal. It wasn’t Michael Jordan’s desire for fame that made him the incredible basketball player that he was, it was his uncontrollable obsession for the game.
For some people, the easiest road to fame would seem to be as a singer. Having never really sung before, they begin in earnest to practice along with the radio, and a few weeks later, after a new hairdo and some dance moves, they’ re ready to take the world by storm. Frankly, I find this attitude insulting to our industry and insulting to the individuals who have a genuine love of singing and have worked their butts off for years trying to make a living at it. That’s why I have no sympathy for these wannabes when they fall on their faces.
So where do you stand as a singer? Here are a few easy tests:
First, find out if you’ re tone deaf. Can you play a scale on an instrument and then sing it? If you can, great, you’ re not tone deaf. Not sure if it’s the same melody or not? Ooh, bad sign. Don’t know what a scale is or how to play it? You need a lot more work.
Next, record yourself singing with some music and play it for someone you don’t know. Ask their opinion, telling them that it’s a friend you recorded. Chances are you’ll get some honest opinions that are worth more than what your parents and significant other tell you.
If you have the guts and really think you have the goods, go to some open mic nights at a local club and sit in for a few songs. Or go to a karaoke bar. Learn to read the feedback from the crowd.
If you come to the conclusion that you’ve got what it takes, then let people know you’ re out there. If you think you really suck, but you have a burning desire that won’t let you quit, than you have a lot of work ahead of you. First, take singing lessons and practice, practice, practice! Lessons are just a waste of money without practice. When you finally feel confident, take the above tests again and see if you’ve improved. If you haven’ t, you might be better off as a drummer.