It’s the second day of the new year and we’ll all probably be thinking of achieving some great ambition this year (because we’ll most likely have done nothing of note last year; don’t worry, it’s not just you). For the fans of glossy pop stars such as those Korean bands that sprout up one after another, you may decide you want to be an idol as well this year. Well the most straightforward way to get yourself known is to enter a singing competition on TV and shine.
Singing competitions are abundant nowadays, especially in the United States where they don’t ever seem to cease. There’s currently things like the X Factor, I think? And American Idol Season 18374573822. If you have the singing chops, just sign up and offer your talents, and you’ll get to experience performing on stage, complete with musical training and towards the finals, free makeup and outfit! But of course it’s not always so smooth.
First of all, the judges are a pain in the neck and a mood dampener. They are obliged to offer some negative criticism unless your performance was really really good, and sometimes you may think they simply didn’t understand all those vocal nuances you put into your song. And really, who would enjoy being commented on week after week? Even if I liked singing, I would soon hate it if people kept telling me I wasn’t doing well enough.
Secondly, you’ve got to pick and practise a different song every week. Most competitions like weekly themes and gimmicks thrown in, such as collaborating on a duet with a fellow competitor, that kind of thing. Woe betide you if you simply don’t listen to a sufficient range of songs to know a suitable one for yourself. And given only a week to practise a song you may not even like, you may end up forgetting the lyrics on stage, or something risky like that. You have got to put in lots of time every week.
Thirdly, television loves audience interaction. They love an element of “audience voting”, where the contestant with the least votes is knocked out of the competition. This means you had better shamelessly promote yourself to your friends and distant relatives, or even bribe people to vote for you. This becomes a popularity contest to see who has the most friends and family. I would be terribly embarrassed to ask people I didn’t know very well to vote for me. I would love that the best man gets the most votes, but no one else thinks like that, so I must join in the “every man for himself and the devil takes the hindmost” mentality.
And of course, joining a singing competition is completely out of the question for me. I only know Japanese songs, but I can’t enter Japanese contests because I don’t know half of what they will be saying. And I absolutely hate being pretentious, which you’ve got to do to some degree when you’re on TV. I can never be an actress because I can never stand the embarrassment of drama. Somehow drama is fine when I can see my audience, but I get nervous when I’m in front of a camera and an anonymous audience. Who knows if some enemy from the past is snickering at my every move?
If you were in a singing contest, what songs would you sing? You’ve got to be able to sing in a wide variety of genres (which even acclaimed Chinese singer Faye Wong cannot do) to match each theme. What if you get eliminated before you even get to the episode with your favourite theme?