reality television, music competitions and more

27 Mar

I can only remember small little details in a blur. When I was in high school and before I could drive, I heard about auditions for Utah Idol (this was before David Archuleta). I begged one of my parents to drive me to the competition, which was far away at either Weber State or Utah State University. I really can’t remember except a long drive of getting there. I hardly practiced and I don’t even think I practiced at all. It didn’t occur to me I had to practice. My parents could care less about this competition and weren’t supportive, which was ironic because when I was six to sixteen, I was forced to sing in a children’s choir. Going to choir practice was always such a struggle. Someone called my name and I went on the stage to sing Vanessa Carlton’s ‘A Thousand Miles’. A few applauses and I left the stage. I was disappointed. I knew my performance didn’t go well. There was silence on the drive back to Salt Lake City. I think it was that moment I realised that singing in a choir for all those years doesn’t naturally make you an amazing singer. Also, singing in a choir for that long doesn’t validate yourself for anything. Especially if you don’t practice.

I used to think singing competitions like American Idol were magical. A one way ticket to fame and success. But who can really remember the winner of every season of American Idol? My favourite American Idols of all time are Kelly Clarkson, David Archuleta and Phillip Phillips. After that, I can remember Clay Aiken (I once sang on stage with him), David Cook and Ruben Studdard. Realising all the American Idols I can’t remember, going to Sundance Film Festival 2013 and watching Twenty Feet From Stardom and Sound City, as well as reading about Dave Grohl (see this previous post: inspiring words: dave grohl) have completely changed the way I see and think about music.

Twenty Feet From Stardom (IMDb link to film) is a documentary on backup singers. The first concert I went to with actual backup singers was Eric Clapton (see blog post at Enthusiasm for Everything), but either than that, before watching the film, I had no previous knowledge about backup singers. The film opened a new world to me. I began to understand why certain songs stand out. A lot of it has to do with the backup singers that add the extra emotion, depth, dimension and personality in the sounds. Judith Hill is featured in the documentary and she’s a musician that caught my attention. Her voice and part half Japanese and African American background amazes me (because I’m Chinese and play music myself). I recently found out she auditioned out for The Voice and is now one of this season’s contestants (see here). My only question is WHY?! Judith Hill sang with Michael Jackson. MICHAEL JACKSON. MJ. The King of Pop. The only one who could moon walk and truly knew music. How many people can say they sang with Michael Jackson? She has an incredible voice. She doesn’t need to prove herself to anyone. She obviously doesn’t need a vocal coach. She is a true winner with or without The Voice.

Is being a musician all about fame and record deals? Why do people watch shows like The Voice and American Idol? Why do people buy pop songs on the radio? I want to know. Because what I know is there are many musicians I love. In the world of music, everyone can win. Everyone is a winner. And most of the realest music I know are from musicians who are not famous and don’t have a record deal. I spend almost all my waking hours listening to music and music means the world to me.

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