Aspiring singers can learn valuable lessons from phenomenal hit shows like The Voice, American Idol and America’s Got Talent. The advice given on voice control, body-support, appearance, branding, and other vital aspects of performance is about as good as you can get anywhere — and it’s tuition-free to boot!
Shows like The Voice are the Super Bowl for the kids who didn’t play sports in high school. They were the guys who were busy practicing their instruments or playing in the marching band. As competitors, singing on American Idol, The Voice, America’s Got Talent helps young singers get a sense of what real-world professionals are looking for and what the American public responds to. Singers can learn from the critiques what works and what doesn’t, and then apply that to their own performance.
I give most of these panel of commentators high marks for generally right-on advice. But, strangely, I find that I have agreed most often with Simon Cowell, who has usually been the harshest. I’ve noticed though he seems to be a bit kinder and, dare one say, gentler? If you think Simon is tough, try convincing a roomful of label executives that they should gamble a million dollars on your career.
There have been episodes where the contestants who are singing on these talent shows have received criticism for choosing material that plays to their strength. The following week, the same singer was pilloried for making a song choice outside his comfort zone. And that’s something every singer should think twice about—stepping outside of your safety zone. Sometimes it’s simply best to do what you do best. However, I will tell you that often you have no choice in the matter, the shows will chose the songs they want you to sing. So be prepared for anything.
But, when you do have a choice, choosing the right material is important and it’s wonderful when the perfect song and the perfect singer come together. But the qualities we hear in a great singer would come through if they were singing the phone book.
One caution I would give to the contestants is to guard against over-singing. Those who end up singing on talent shows seem to be obsessed with “LOUD.” Many of them belt the songs out so loudly that the words don’t seem to matter. It’s becomes a shouting contest.
Singing should be more subtle than just slinging a lot of voice around. When you sing with a thundering voice, you sacrifice the honesty, intimacy, and integrity of the lyrics. Yet, this style is presented to millions of television viewers as desirable.
Does being in the final top ten guarantee you a spot in the hearts and pocketbooks of an adoring public? No, but it sure beats rehearsing in the garage, or sitting around thinking about becoming a big star. Singing on American Idol, The Voice, America’s Got Talent or the next new thing just might be your ticket to success. Or not..
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