Is it me or is the idea getting old?
Singing competitions on TV... American Idol, The Voice, America's Got Talent... Voices going head to head in vocal battles; cover competitions with back stories and personal baggage... Okay, so it's tempting to listen in. You're channel surfing and come across a live audition. You'll just listen to this one song. But then you have to hear who the singer's up against, so you listen to one more... Grabbing a bag of chips and gravitating toward your favorite arm chair you listen, analyze and evaluate. It's sucked you in and now you're a judge. You pick your winner and explain (to other family members) why he's the one, how lucky he is. And therein lies the problem.
The talent hasn't changed. The format hasn't changed. The rules haven't changed. But the outcome has changed. In earlier years, the winner of these competitions actually went somewhere. Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Jennifer Hudson. Their post-show ride was fun to follow, magic at its best, the dream come true.
Since then, the winners... well, they don't seem to go anywhere, really. Why not? Because the music industry has no holy grail. Because getting a record deal, signing with a big label, is no longer a guarantee. The big guys can pick you and sign you, they can package you and produce you... but if your end product is a record -- and the fans aren't buying records -- then... what? Uh-oh. Didn't see that one coming.
Sure, the shows are food for fodder at the water cooler. You talk about last night's episode, like a faithful sports fan you defend your singer and argue why he's the best. But in this game, the finals are, well, just the beginning... of the end. The hardest part isn't winning the show. The hardest part starts after you win the show.
Math question: How many solo singer/songwriters can the world have? There are zillions of them, and so many have SUPER talent. But if you don't have something unique, it's really really hard to get noticed. Fans are fickle. They've gotta love you hard or they'll replace you with someone else. And those someone elses are coming along at record speed. Bummer, right?
So here's an idea. What if, instead of these shows choosing a solo voice, the judges and fans chose a few voices - and a few instrumentalists - and created a new band? This could inject some fun and variety into the competition, bringing in new viewers (who may be more interested in voting on a drummer or guitarist). It would educate viewers on just what it takes to create a band (a business actually). It could open some doors to some great talent. It's out there; talent that's good enough and ready to collaborate. Like a sports game fantasy draft format -- for music. Take the singing competition idea, and add a new twist. Have a two-part season: first half creates the band: second half creates the songs. Let the fans vote to steer marketability.
Viable idea? It was done with One Direction, British boy wonder band in 2010. Simon Cowell hand-picked the five solo acts from Britain's competition show X Factor and created the band... Purists would say it's contrived, a fake band. But the world is saying something completely different. Marketed to the right audience, the concept works. One Direction has sold over 14 mil singles and 8 mil albums to date. Of course I'm not suggesting that all bands should be formed this way. Most bands have their own friendships, talent and chemistry and do just fine on their own. But it might be a cool TV show.
I love listening to solo vocalists. I do it all day in my job. But so often when I hear a killer voice, I just wish I could put it into a killer band. It helps keep monotony at bay, and allows more than one to be a winner. Just another direction.
Val Haller (owner/founder Valslist.com)
A FEW BANDS TO KNOW:
TREETOP FLYERS (similar vibe = America)
Treetop Flyers - Things Will Change [OFFICIAL VIDEO]
COLORFEELS (similar vibe = Beach Boys)
Colorfeels Perform 'Pretty Walk'
STEVE MARTIN & EDIE BRICKELL (bluegrass/folk)
Steve Martin & Edie Brickell - When You Get to Asheville - David Letterman 4/23/2013
MUD DIGGER (country)
Ira Dean - Beer Or Gasoline - Mud Digger 2
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