Sage advice for eager 'Idol' contestants
Looks like it could be a girl's year this year. After 26.2 miles of Idol watching over the last couple nights, I'm pretty spent. Thankfully, this week's installment of Idol ended on the proverbial high note and left me wanting a little more. All big voices and beat boxing aside, though, the one question rattling around in my brain is what kind of record do these contestants plan on making after the show is over?
So far, it isn't clear -- and it ought to be. A major part of Chris Daughtry's success now is based on the fact that early on, he established what he was all about and never strayed too far from it. The same could be said about Carrie Underwood and country music.
This is the point of the competition when the country is forming it's opinion of the top 24, and if they don't send out clear messages about who they are artistically we'll form our own conclusions -- which generally ends in confusion.
So, to you John Q. Idol Contestant, what I have to say today is some well-intended advice. If you haven't asked yourself what kind of artist you are, figure it out quick. You are not only competing with the others on the show, but with your favorite musicians on the radio. There's a long way to go for you to get where they are, and you only have a few months.
Lakisha had a good week, but I'm not convinced she'll last very long. Singing a J. Hud song is risky -- and I'm not saying that 'cause I'm biased. I think it's cool she found something current, but I don't think it's a smart move to compare yourself to Idol's first Oscar nominee. You'll be standing in a big shadow for a while; you're likely to disappear in it. The trick with contemporary music is making the audience forget who sang the original.
Unfortunately and fortunately for Lakisha and all the rest of you semi-finalists interested in going that pop/gospel route, there really aren't very many contemporary, wholesome, red-state pop singers to look to for guidance. I mean, the days of Tom Jones, Olivia Newton John or even Whitney Houston -- early Whitney -- have come and gone. So, there are a lot of unpaved roads ahead of you. But, breaking new ground is always exciting.
In the end it all comes down to having a good song if you want to have a long run on the show and after. It should be a lot easier now to clear music in the sixth season of unparalleled Idol success. And, this song writing competition is a great idea. Let's all hope and pray it pans out -- for all our sakes. I can't take another "Do I Make You Proud."
[Jon Peter Lewis was a contestant on the third season of "American Idol." He has just released his debut album, "Stories From Hollywood." Visit his Web site, jonpeterlewis.com.]
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