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Sorry, I'm a little distracted. As I write this issue, "American Idol" is playing on TV. As I watch, I can't help but think of the old "Wide World of Sports" slogan: "The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat."

It's great to see lesser-known singers use the 10 seconds they have to audition to belt out a winning tune and move on to the next round. And it's painful to watch some the rejected performances -- both the singers themselves and the judges' responses.

Regardless of what you think of the cruel critiques, it is amazing to see that so many people are that delusional about their vocal skills. They have no idea that they're off-key and lackluster. And this stirs up mixed and opposing viewpoints in me.

On one hand, I'm Mr. Positive when it comes to music people pursuing their goals. You should be driven to use your talents to carve out a successful career for yourself (or at least a satisfying niche on whatever scale you decide is right for you). And you shouldn't let Simon, Randy, Paula or the dozens of other naysayers in your life force you off the path you have chosen.

But, damn, some of these "American Idol" wannabes demonstrate how that mindset can be taken to a harmful extreme. I know many of them are nervous and not giving their best performances. I know art is in the eye of the beholder. I know that some pretty awful talent has made it to the big time and even enjoyed hit records.

But how can you be sure you're not one of those artists whose mental image of your own talents far exceeds what most other people think of you?

The good news is, most musicians (like most artists in general) are plagued by a little voice inside that's always doubting whether they have the right stuff. The voice questions whether your latest song is really good enough to record or whether you blew the phrasing on that last chorus or lead solo.

If you have self-doubts, be grateful. They assure that you'll keep striving to improve. Your doubts make certain you don't get too comfortable or lazy in your pursuit of music.

Another aspect of this is something I've been harping on a lot lately: your relationship with a growing number of fans. Even if the "judges" of the world don't praise you, you're still a success if you have a decent number of fans who not only enjoy your music, but support it with their bodies at live shows and their dollars toward CD and merchandise sales.

And there's yet another conundrum: Artists should create music to please themselves and not be steered by trends or outside pressures, yet it takes lots of satisfied fans to validate your pursuit of a career.

I'm exhausted, and I need your help! Feel free to send me your thoughts on this topic by e-mail to -- I'll post some of the responses in a future issue.

May the voice of doubt shine upon you!

Friday, 24 January 2003 - Bob

Also Read
Judging American Idol by Bob Baker
Pro's and Con's of Tv Talent Shows

Read six more great "American Idol" observations at:

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Articles Reproduced under license from Shareware Music Machine - the world's biggest music software web site. Copyright © Ltd. 1995 - 2001 All Rights Reserved.

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Adam Lambert Second To None
On May 20, 2009 Ryan Seacrest announced on American Idol that Kris Allen beat Adam Lambert. Around the world the same question was asked. How did this happen? Every indicator pointed to an Adam Lambert win. It started to make sense when the Arkansas Gazette and then the New York Times broke a small part of the story; Kris had help from the American Idol corporate sponsor and text vote counter AT&T and from more then 38 million votes cast in Arkansas. As quickly as this story erupted, it fizzled out with denials from AT&T, FOX and American Idol. All three claimed that the vote was fair, accurate and independently verified by Telescope Inc. Not one news outlet challenged the denial, even while many doubted the fairness of this victory.
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