A Criticism of Talent Show Critics
Jury members/coaches/mentors etc. on US talent shows tend to not to want to hurt anyone's feelings. This then, makes for some boring television. Even after the worst performances the "experts" tend to say: "You know I love you....," "You are AMAZING, but...", "You are one of the best singers I've ever heard...", "You might make it to the final..", "You're going to be a superstar if you just...". These comments may be nice and not hurtful, but they make for boring viewing. It's not bad enough that all the singers on these music shows all seem the same, and tend to churn out tedious performances for the most part, but then the jury tend to do the same with their so-called criticism.
In many of these talent shows in Europe the jury tends to be a lot more judgmental in their criticism and tend to not hold back. This makes for entertaining viewing. In the US music shows are most likely wary of being sued in case someone takes any criticism too much to heart. However, talent shows are meant to be entertaining, and I find the most entertaining parts to be when judges are brutally honest. Even Simon Cowell pads his criticisms when taking part in his shows in the US as opposed to the things he says in the UK versions.
If people want to be entertained and can realize that they are opening themselves up to criticism by being on TV and then being able to accept stronger opinions, we would all be better off.
For example, let's look at the way judges react to this singer murdering a Lady GaGa song in the British show "Pop Idol" in the video below, as well as a crazy girl in a British X-Factor audition.
Pop Idol (Britain)
Also, American judges also tend to give standing ovations on WAY too many occasions. Giving standing ovations should be reserved for performances that are truly outstanding. Overusing this will tend to diminish what a standing ovation should really mean. Standing ovations are rarely given in the overseas versions of the talent shows. We must simply realize that not everyone is talented, and if they aren't, they don't need to be told they are. Self criticism is an important quality we should all have.
Sure, no one likes to get criticized. It is hard enough getting up in front of people and singing. However, if that's what you really want to do it's better to get used to harsh comments as soon as possible. No matter how popular a singer or band gets they will always have critics. As the saying goes, you can't please everyone. By putting yourself in the limelight you also need to be able to take the good and the bad. There is no need for the US versions of talent shows to molly coddle contestants. The music show should not be a verbal charity of praise for singers who are hopelessly untalented. Like it or not, viewers would also be more entertained with more honesty from judges.
Another thing is that many of these supposedly "awesome" singers who get relegated from the show are still told to pursue their dreams because their place is on the stage. Not everyone can have a place on the stage who's a good singer. In fact, many popular and successful singers on the market today are not even good singers. They have writers who can make a good tune. Lyrics have pretty much been extremely dumbed down in the industry to reach the widest fan base. It seems that people don't need meaningful lyrics. If you throw in a few "baby baby" and "I love you" lines the song seems to meet the basic requirements of the masses. And this is all across the board, from rock to pop to country to rap to r'n'b and hip hop. Obviously there have always been silly lyrics but it seems that songs from the '50s, 60s and 70s had more thought provoking lyrics than anything in the past 10-15 years.
Somebody having a good voice does not mean they are meant for stardom. Some of the most liked singers of all time did not have "good" voices in the classic sense. Their uniqueness is what made them popular: Kurt Cobain, Rod Stewart, David Bowie, KISS, Guns N' Roses, to name just a few. There are millions of good singers out there, but that is not necessarily needed in order to touch a cord with people. The mass produced boy bands rely on easily impressionable girls for their sales and fan base. There is a formula for how they guys should look and what they should sing about. However, none of them have "voices" worth mentioning. This is why they all disappear in a few years only to go on to become nothing much in the future. Of course there are some exceptions: Robbie Williams and Ricky Martin just to name two.
In the end, many people don't listen to their own instincts and decide to "like" singers and band that the industry tries to make people believe to be what's the best out there now. This tenuous fame doesn't last long and these tastes fade away quite quickly. This is why in the end we are left with the truly great bands and singers who had talent, charisma and something to say: Elvis, Queen, The Beatles, Depeche Mode, U2 and so on. Fad bands and singers may come and go, but in the end true talent and the ability to make us think and question are the ones that stay with us all.