Idol ‘It’ Factor



This season’s Idol contestants came to the auditions prepared to win. Younger and more talented every year, they came with guitars, with stage presence, and with training. So it makes me wonder, where will the show go from here?

At this stage in the game, the final nine are all winners. They will all go on to certain fame, whether they become ‘The’ American Idol or not.

It is not unlike, for us writers, being on the New York Times best sellers list or in the top 100. Do you really need to be #1 or are you happy being a best seller? Being number one would be nice, but again, where do you go from there?

The judges are getting tougher in their commentary. They have to, because the name of the game is who will become #1? So tonight, we will discover which contestants America decided sink to the bottom three. All performed well, as they should at this stage, so we shall see.

The judges focused on tone, bravado and pitch, tell the contestants to bring something new to the performance, a standout factor. It reminds me of what agents are always saying they want to see in a manuscript. What they want is that next great thing, but they cannot tell you exactly what that is. If you are a musician, you could learn from watching American Idol. You could soak up the expert advice doled out by the judges. You could learn from the mistakes and successes of the contestants. You could learn what makes a star a star, or could you?

The infamous ‘it’ factor is impossible to describe but most agree they recognize it when they see it. I think it is like trying to catch a shooting star. Why do we feel the need to put a name on it, to package it and to sell it?

Advertisers spend their days mulling over data, trying to pinpoint what ‘it’ is. When all the while most of us are uninterested in how it is, just that it is. We listeners, viewers and readers, know when we hear a song or watch a program or pick up a book, that we are either moved by the content or not. Some would say we’re drawn to that conclusion.

Q. Does desire to believe leave you open to be deceived?

A. Maybe our desire is to be deceived.

If so moved, then we want to connect to it or to its message in some way. Ah, but here is the decisive factor: we also want to be entertained. See we are a tricky bunch. How we connect to the message is an individual thing, yet it is also a universal thing, because despite our unique experiences, we all share our common humanity.

There is enough negativity in the world, is there not? I would rather focus on the top three or four entertainers from last night’s show, those contestants who moved me and gave the most entertaining performances of the night by my standards: Dexter, Malaya, Jessica and Caleb.

On Dexter’s performance, I disagree with the judge’s comments that he sang Boondocks just like Little Big Town. Maybe a mixed genre music fan like myself, does not hear that song all of the time, so for me, it was Dexter’s. I doubt the country music fans would mind even if it did sound like a cover tune. And yes, we are drawn in by his story, as American as apple pie.

Great tune anyway:

Malaya’s range, power and voice control are amazing for such a young girl. So if she wins the competition, in a year from now, will all that makes her special fade away? What will Hollywood do to her individuality once her star is in the net?

Jessica continues to prove herself the consummate performer. She seems to have a maturity and edgy life experience the others lack, which shines through her performances.

When the lights are down Caleb transforms into a mature, hypnotic, hard rocker with a voice to match. It is as if he is channeling the lyrics.

Entertainment factor? That next great thing? It factor? Well, I’m still thinking about those performances. So yes!


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