It is early morning, and there are 3,500 people packed into a giant room, all waiting to be called so they can show their stuff. Every single one of the other 3,499 people who sit there are poseurs though, because you — you are the next American Idol, and you almost feel sorry for those whose dreams will be crushed on this day. Then your number is called. You are supremely confident as you strut — yes, strut — into the room where the judges currently sit, waiting to tell you what you’ve known since you were young. They listen attentively — for 30 seconds before a hand is raised into the air. Your verdict comes.
Damn them, you think as you leave the room with their “No”s still ringing in your ears. It is late afternoon and your entire life has been invalidated. By that one simple word, multiplied by the power of three. That one word made you doubt every single loved one who told you how amazing your voice sounded in the shower every morning, every friend who went with you to karaoke and exclaimed how good you were, and every stranger who heard you singing at work and said, “Right on.” All of your faith in yourself, gone in the blink of an eye.
That’s because you tied all of your belief system up to one pie-in-the-sky idea, to an occupation that is hit-or-miss at best, one that spits out even some of the best voices and makes gruel of them. And honestly, you’re no Adam Lambert. So, why did all those people say you were the best they’d ever heard? BECAUSE IT COST THEM ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO SAY IT. See, they would have done you a better service had they been like my mother and told the truth. At least then you wouldn’t be sitting there on the curb outside of the American Airlines Arena looking like your dog just died, and questioning everything you ever thought you knew.
I watch the audition footage of shows like American Idol and X-Factor and I can see those people a mile away, the ones who think they’re amazing. They’re the ones schmoozing in the hallways, chatting up everyone like they’re a game show host. They look into the camera and say, “We got this,” and they honestly think that. Whereas, the ones who generally do well are the ones who are unsure. They sit in the corner and maybe talk to one or two others about how difficult it was to make the drive, but they hope they do well. They have a more exact idea of their own strengths and weaknesses, and they have chosen the songs that steer clear of those weaknesses.
And I want to be an Idol. I want to have millions of people clamoring for my album, wanting to attend my concerts, and dying to get my autograph. But I don’t want it because I would get to be auto-tuned and teamed up with Ludacris for guaranteed sales and street cred. I want it because people who know music think I was the best voice they head, and then America decided they were right and voted for my talent. But I’m not all that great, and I’m definitely no Adam Lambert, but I do enjoy singing, and I can sometimes carry a tune.
Maybe that’s all I should ask for, but who knows? If Idol comes anywhere near here I might still go and try out. But I will go into it with my eyes open instead of with the lies ringing in my ears.