American Idolatry

Why am I watching this? Why? It’s not unlike a car wreck, where you’re horrified but part of you wants to see how bad it was, or maybe if someone you know is involved. Or porn, in the same ways.

And why are the losers reacting so violently? I can understand disappointment — we’ve all been in competition for something, and it’s a tremendous letdown to not win. It’s not the end of the world, it’s not death, it’s not anything worth crying about. The people that make it through to the very end and then lose? Okay, you’ve worked hard, and it certainly sucks more the closer to the finish line you fall. Been there, too.

I keep hearing about how much these people have sacrificed to be there, but really? Most of them quit a shitty job to fly to one of the auditioning cities. But you know, if you want success in the artistic / creative industries, you better be ready and more than happy to give up a lot more than that if you’re going to stand a chance. That industry will chew you up and spit you into the mouth of a sharper-toothed partner — to succeed, you’ll be lucky not to lose a career you enjoy, family and friends, significant others, sleep and time and money.

And by the way, far more talented musicians than any of you fuckers have never gotten even the fifteen minutes of exposure that you got by losing, and they’ve sacrificed things that losing would kill you.

Argh.

And please, please, stop telling me that American Idol is the best thing to happen to Birmingham musicians. It’s not, plain and simple. Without dissing Taylor or Ruben or Bo — because, frankly, I’m not into the blues and gospel and classic rock they sing — but the outside view that I hear isn’t how this town is bubbling over with killer, inventive, talented musicians like Tim Boykin, Eric McGinty, Carlos Pino, Jason Bailey, Mark and Matt Kimbrough, Les Nuby… Nope. We’ve got great karaoke singers.

Which is cool, I guess. And again, I’m not trying to belittle any of the previous winners (though I hear rumors that the reigning Idol still owes a few local folks cash…), but AI is not for us what Nirvana, REM, or Prince were for Seattle, Athens, and Minneapolis.

Let’s see — Birmingham is synonymous with racism, college football, and karaoke.

Sigh.

And the audiences are more interested in voting for karaoke singers at $1.99 a pop (or whatever that is) than coming out to support local musicians for free.

(For the record, I’ve seen the Taylor Hicks Band and Just a Few Cats twice each, which I’m fairly sure is five times more than most Birmingham residents saw any of the three, pre-AI)

(Also, for the record: of the three winners, from the opinions of a large segment of bar workers and musicians in this town: one is a really nice guy, one isn’t terribly well known, and one is pretty universally unliked. Which is probably a better ratio than you would find among musicians in general.)

Wait — that asshole missed the birth of his daughter to audition? He deserved to lose, and yet, sadly, moves on. Wow. Just… wow. It’s one thing to quit your job, or give up things for yourself — but I’m fairly sure that parenthood comes first.

What do I know, though? I don’t have kids, and I’m just a bassist in a bar band.

I’m gonna go watch car wreck porn, and hope that Chris Sligh is the next American Idol. How unpretty (read: cool) would that be?

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2 thoughts on “American Idolatry

  1. I think the reason they get so disappointed is because they’re from that generation of “everybody gets a trophy just for trying.” It may be the first time some of them have had to fail.

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