The bleeting truth about Idols

10 April 2012 - 15:24 By Nikita Ramkissoon

Hi. My name is Nikita and I am an Idols fan. Don’t judge me. Yes, I am.

Not only do I like hearing upcoming artists and their journeys to becoming the next Idol, but the sheer entertainment.

American Idol is currently underway, with some of the most awesome voices and performances I have seen in the show’s 11-season history. Also, some of the worst. Have you ever tried to watch Idols without the benefit of PVR? Before that fast-forward button, it could have turned the most music-loving person into a raging bull. But the auditions are not what bugs me.

People like to mock the ‘other’, so it must feel like Christmas to have William Hung banging out She Bangs ‘like a true karaoke-trained Asian would’. Buhle Mkwanazi killing us not-so-softly earns the honour of having the millionaire judges just laugh in her face.

I don’t get why the judges look so damn shocked. It’s a show in which the likes of Fox and DSTV pump naive people’s hopes up and then pull their pants down and giggle at their genitals on international TV.

It’s the show where if Adele showed up, they’d mock her weight and accent.

But that’s the nature of the show, as deriding, disgusting and degrading as it is.

It does make me wonder what the hell those contestants are hearing when they listen to themselves sing? Everyone sounds different to what they think they do and this is one of the reasons some people think they're good. In some cases, really good singers think they're bad, and there may be some undiscovered gems out there.

The sad truth is, not everyone can be an Idol. Not everyone possesses the vocal prowess of Florence Welch or even the gravel-voiced Kurt Cobain. Yet, the songs are massacred audition after audition. Sometimes with incorrect lyrics and all. When people sing, they have to be in tune, on pitch, in time and their voice must have something special which makes people want to listen. Not necessarily melodious, and in most cases, sans the five octave vocal range. You need spark.

What makes people think they can be the next Idol if they are so bloody terrible? Perhaps it’s their families who lie and say ‘what a beautiful voice’. Friends never want to admit you sound like a talking sheep. So that may be a falsely encouraging factor. Nobody wants to admit to someone that their singing is dreadful. Nobody wants to hear it, either.

But Idols milks it. They draw every drop from these aspirant human beings and then run them into the ground just for a few laughs from viewers. They say ‘anyone can be the next Idol’, but the made-for-TV formula dictates that it’s not a talent show. It’s a talent show. They have their quota system. They have to think about their racial and gender representation. They also have to have a balance of guarantees, okay ones that they may have put through if they lost their chubby cheeks and the fair share of dreadful voices that make the auditions something to watch.

It grates my ears year after year, and so does seeing these poor souls embarrassing themselves on television. Hearing disheartening and sometimes heartbreaking insults from the judges, or worse – silence or just laughter. I don’t get it. Perhaps it’s for their moment of fame. Perhaps some misguided mission. Their awful crowing makes me want to go to the auditions and shake them up and say ‘get a grip on reality!’

But it’s good for television. It’s what draws the hits on YouTube and is what gets bums on seats. The ones auditioning are encouraged, interviewed, filmed walking down the street with a sob-story voice over... the hoo-ha just setting them up for a big fall, all for the sake of ratings and prime time viewing.

I don’t think these people who can’t sing are the problem, though. I reckon we have to start questioning what we deem ‘entertainment’.

Because when we can ignore true talent for watching people making utter fools of themselves, it’s a sign that we are fast-reaching inhumanity and fundamentally, de-evolution.