Starry Eyes

Maybe one reason we can’t elect a reasonable president is because so many people would rather vote for an American Idol. According to an Associated Press story over on CNN, Americans cast 63 million votes—”more than any president in the history of our country has received”—to pick Taylor Hicks as the new American Idol.

I chuckle at the absurdity of the show’s concept. Talent isn’t good singing. Real talent is songwriting and musical ability. Even a bad singer can have a pretty big hit with a really good song. But even the best singer will fail if the material is no good. Some American Idol failures, like, uh, William Hung, went on to success because of bad singing. 

I guess that viewed from the perspective of stardom or the idea of overnight success, American Idol makes sense. Of course, none of the winners is really an overnight success, because they invest, sometimes years of effort, to become an American Idol.

That said, if singing really were that important, why couldn’t the American Idol contestants succeed on their own, without competing on the show? Make no mistake, the winners earn their recording contracts. They work hard and compete hard, and the process molds them into behaving like stars.

Perhaps the latter point is the most important. The competition isn’t just about winning stardom but becoming one through the process. Is that so bad?