Reality Competition Shows – Just say no!

the-voice-logo-200I no longer suggest to my students that they go to  auditions for singing or general-talent competition/reality shows. I have seen too many people, get through early and then, and not be seen on TV, as promised?

Some have been on, and knocked off. Others were given performance contracts to appear on TV, and never were contacted, again. Not even a courtesy phone call from the show producers. Just silence. Over time, I have developed a skeptical view on how truly real these shows are.

I was watching The Voice because I enjoy  the format.  The talent somewhat inconsistent. Some deserve to be heard, and others… well, not so  much.  I don’t understand how they got on. Oh, ok…  just like it often is, they knew someone.

Then, the audience takes over judging, and that is a huge mistake. It becomes a popularity contest, not a singing competition, judged by professionals.

Look who won last year…  exactly, you can’t remember, either, can you? Well, I do remember, and she was young and country and NOT ready for Prime Time.

Have we heard anything from winners of The VoiceAmerican Idol, has produced many recording stars. The Voice is highest rated and has produced no one.

I like the format of The Voice. Contestants can be voted off from their coach and another coach can steal them, putting the contestant back in the mix, for another chance. Love That idea!  Brilliant!

Many of this year’s crop of singers are just so-so, and I just don’t see the big deal. I see judges get overly excited and I wonder, do they really need the money from judging, that badly?

Do these singers sound better in person?

I can count on one hand, the singers, this year, that are good. Not great, but good.  So, as I said, “This was the last year, for me.” I was getting any excitement about the season.  One of my students asked me about the show and if they should audition. I was honest, and said, “I wouldn’t invest your time in it, if I were you.” I explain the previous experiences I’ve observed and I simply don’t advise taking that path… PERIOD.

American idolThe whole reality show thing has run its course for me. I never really liked it and it didn’t grow on me. When my student, Scarlet, was on American Idol, it was exciting, until she texted me. She was allowed only two hours sleep, and was made to do a dance and learn a song in an hour. This was pure sleep deprivation for ALL the contestants, bordering on torture.

By the end of that stretch, Scarlet just wanted to get out of there!.  Then I saw another contestant pass out and fall off the stage. I am certain it was all  staged; nothing was real.

If you have talent, define it; be the best you can. sing with a live band, get plenty of experience, work clubs and pay your dues.

There are rarely overnight success or lottery ticket winners. From reality competition shows, only a scant few of the winners establish sustained, successful careers.

“Earn it your success with hard work. You are far more likely to hit the jackpot.”

That’s my take…

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

10 Success Tips For Singing Competition Auditions

Singing Competition Judges

Singing Competition Judges

I have watched countless singing competition auditions on TV shows. Now, having judged a talent show, I can tell you, how to get winning results.

Song Selection and Execution: Choose your song carefully. It should climb to a crescendo, quickly, and make sure it shows your range. Get to the bridge, fast, leave out a verse if the verses are too long.  We want to hear you really in control of every note.Do not bore them, with a ballad that doesn’t go anywhere.

You need to relate to the people, even if there are just three people there. You need to perform. To feel the song. Choose a song you love . A song close to your age (age appropriate) and will showcase your emotional range as well as your vocal range.

Breathing and Phrasing: Proper breathing and phrasing are  a must. If you are not trained, you can still learn a song correctly, by breathing where you would, if you were speaking the song. Take the lyrics, and speak them, pay attention to where you are breathing. That is where you should breathe when you sing it.

Then you need drama, and emotion. That’s why the song is important. You want the judges to have goose bumps. Move them. Make them feel something. You can go another way, and do a comedic number, but they won’t take you as seriously.

Song Choice Examples: ‘Nothing ‘ From ‘A Chorus Line’ is a great song for a Broadway show audition. Also ‘Blue Hair’  for theatre., ‘Life Of the Party’ from ‘The Wild Party’ Broadway show.  ‘Listen’ is great for pop.

If you are a belter, any song by Janis Joplin, Jesse J, Aretha Franklin, or Etta James are excellent picks… or the English singer Sam Brown, ‘Stay Baby Stay’.   But stay away from the overdone ‘Adele’ songs.  A nice ballad, ‘Wish me a Rainbow’ of the film, ‘This Property is Condemned’. Judges are tired of listening to Adele songs.

Some of these song choices are on the Las Vegas Vocal Training YouTube channel.

Top 10 Tips for Singing Competition Auditions

  1. Singing Competition AuditionsKnow the genre of the show, and what they are looking for. Look at video from past seasons, and study the people who got through.
  2. Choose a song that starts out strong, and if it doesn’t, start at the bridge.
  3. Wear something comfortable and flattering. Wear heels if you are a woman. Dress nicely, but not over done.
  4. Be comfortable onstage. Feel as though you belong there. Introduce yourself, and warm them to you. Breathe deeply before you go in, and exhale all the negative feelings.
  5. Look judges in the eyes. Then as you sing, concentrate on what you need to do to, and reel them in. Make them feel your song.
  6. Song selection will make or break you. Prepare three songs. I have had observed X-Factor auditions for my students. They were told to prepare 90 seconds. The audition person with the mic, asked for two entire complete songs from each of my students. That made three entire songs from start to finish. They even gave one student time to go out and think of another song. Be prepared and have more in mind, just in case.
  7. If they ask you questions, answer, clearly, loud, and with energy. These shows are largely about personality. If you hem and haw and yes or no, short answers, they will pass on you. You are not good television.
  8. Thank them after you are finished, and smile as if they are British royalty.
  9. When you sing, move about, as if you own the stage. Do not let them know you are frightened or insecure at all.
  10. Be as prepared as you can, and bring bio, picture, and an mp3 or a DVD. They will video record your audition, but having the tools makes you professional and makes you stand out!

The art of the audition is just that, an art. It takes time, thought, preparation, and practice. Really do your homework and get professional help if you can.  If you need sheet music for 16-bars or 32-bars or a  CD track, go to www.auditiontrax.com. Tom Grieps, in Los Angeles, provides this service for a reasonable fee. It’s a one-day service. He will send a pdf of your song, in your key;  CD or Sheet music and your music is ready.

Be prepared, be yourself, have fun. This is what you want to do, so act naturally.

Good Luck!

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

The State of Singing Competition Shows

singing competitionI watch a lot of singing competition shows, and feel compelled to write this post about them. The first thing I have to comment on, is the mediocre singing skills of many of the entrants who have gotten through to higher rounds.

“I do not understand, or believe that these vocal competition contestants represent the best talent, out there.”

The judges feel badly when a so-so singer is let go, and my biggest annoyance is when they say, ‘You are a great singer, don’t worry’ If that were true, they wouldn’t be not chosen and going home.

I am listening to singers on these shows who would be fine for a cover band at a hotel. They shouldn’t be upset at that evaluation. They can work as singers. There just isn’t fame in the cards for them.  You don’t need ‘fame’ to be a singer with a career.

“To crave ‘stardom’ is the worst reason to sing.”

The sad, sappy stories really get me. I don’t mean in a good way. I happen to know, first hand, many of the stories aren’t real or have been greatly exaggerated. They make up a lot of this drama, to make the show more interesting. Why can’t you just be a good singer and not have a tragic past.

I tell most of my students not to bother with these shows. I have had some students make it all the way to the 4th day, on American Idol.  She was cut when they made her learn a new song in an hour and learn choreograghy. That was my student, Scarlett.

She made it to Hollywood Week on American Idol last season. When she got to Los Angeles, she was asked to function on two hours sleep, learn new songs, and then put in a groups with dance choreography. She is not a dancer, but a great, strong.. a Jesse J type singer.

So, they cut her  when she couldn’t remember lyrics to a song they gave her an hour before she had to sing it. She was exhausted, getting sick, and couldn’t think. She was dying to come home.

I have another student who made it through to the third audition, and got her hopes up, only to be let go before the last set of auditions.

Many people I know are tiring of these shows, American Idol is going downhill fast. People have grown up with it, and have moved on, I know I am very disillusioned with that show. I can go to a lounge show in Las Vegas or Los Angeles and hear far better talent.

Are you seeing what I’m seeing? Your comments would be appreciated!

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

Nicki Minaj: American Idol Judge – American Mistake!

Nicki Minaj

This morning, American Idol announced Nicki Minaj as its newest judge, joining Mariah Carey and Randy Jackson. I was speechless. Here is a woman who recently refused to listen to doctors and ruined her voice and cancelled her tour.

She dresses like a clown and is not really a singer, but a screamer and rapper.

Poor Randy Jackson. Isn’t he burned out, yet? The poor contestant that has to put his or her future in the hands of these judges will make it un watchable for me.  I know, already people have moved on, moved out, it’s getting old and the winners are not real winners anymore. But the ratings are still up there and it has the numbers among entertainment competition shows.

I think this is the season I won’t set the DVR…. even to see the clown show in the wasted money-making first month of auditions. I just have better things to do… like shampooing my hair

Really? Nicki? Perhaps her throat injuries are more serious than reported and she is done with singing for the year. 

That’s my guess. For you out there who will watch the freak show. Have fun, because this train is slowing down to its final destination, soon.

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

Please… give me The Voice!

screamI have followed American Idol as long as it has been on. I was thrilled at talent such as Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. It seems the last three years have been pathetic.

I just feel like they try to make it so difficult and to deprive people of sleep, when that is so important to a singer, it baffles me.

“A little sleep deprivation is good for them once in a while”

~ Steven Tyler

Really? My body is my instrument, I rarely scream like Steven Tyler does. When I do, I do it correctly with my stomach muscles, not my throat.

The lack of talent this year is amazing to me. I feel like I am watching Karaoke contest. No one yet has blown me away.

There were three strong singers from the Houston, Texas audition. One who became my student, when they had that 2-month break. Scarlett Peavey found me ion the net, and moved here to prepare for the Los Angeles American Idol boot camp. The problem she experienced was pain when singing. It was too late for her to get well, so when she went to LA with the correct way to sing from me. Her vocal cords needed anti-inflammatories and rest.

The boot camp of the Hollywood Round consisted of no sleep, exhaustion, and no rest at all, inflamed her voice more. It was not a bad thing when she got cut the third day. I told her to see an ear , nose throat doctor, immediately. He said she had over done it, and needed vocal rest.

And resting is what she has been doing since December. When she is OK we will record her and shop her and I swear she will out sell anyone American Idol produces this season. No one I’ve seen this season can touch Scarlett. Since we live in Las Vegas, we hear great talent all the time. We hear real singers, who nail it every single time we hear them.

Why is Jennifer Lopez a judge? She is a dancer and actress, who lip-syncs her records. Give me a show like The Voice that has singers for judges, and I am interested. I cannot even remember who won American Idol last year.

Former Idol contestant, Katharine McPhee, co-stars on a new TV show on Smash“. It is a legitimate show about Broadway. The problem I have with her, is , she is a good singer but not as good as the rival REAL Broadway singer she is up against on the show.

Having sung professionally since age 12, and now, decades later, I can still sing. And as a coach, my new career, I have earned the right to an opinion.

Singers need sleep. rest, coaching, multi tasking, dancing, and ‘IT’ these people need ‘IT’ and I haven’t seen ‘IT’, this season. That’s why I don’t watch American Idol on a regular basis. It is painful to see a good show devolve into a hot mess.

~ Jessica Marciel

Love, Peace, and SOUL

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

Why The Caliber Of Singers Is Better On “The Voice”

Christina Aguilera

Christina Aguilera

I can’t wait for tonight’s episode, where I hear that is got heated when the first elimination took place. I’ll be blogging it.

Ok, now I know. It isn’t in my mind, I am not going crazy. Michelle McNulty is the casting director for “The Voice”. She has said, they were looking for real artists. She went everywhere, clubs, YouTube, rehearsal studios and personal contacts.  They were promising the judges that they would not be listening to people that were so bad they would have to be mean, or cruel to them.

It is an open secret that casting agents have people who recruit performers for these shows.  McNulty admits there are so many great singers out there that have not been tapped, and she wants to find them. The team pursued former American Idol singer Frenchie, who because of nude photo’s had been eliminated.

Another one they pursued was Javier Colon, who was dropped by Capitol, after two albums. {I know how that feels}   The casting agent promised everyone would be good, very good, or great.  This is why I love this show. I love that it is not a three-ring circus.

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

Why I’m mad at American Idol, and not going to take it anymore

american-idol-logo Last year Idol was the worst season of all, this year, was the second worst. I just can’t sit there and watch Randy Jackson use the word brilliant when someone was just OK I just cannot do it!! The judges have become cheerleaders for so-so singers, who I can hear at karaoke bars in Las Vegas. These guys were screaming, not singing. Pia was good but not BRILLIANT, and has room to grow. What was the big deal?

The X-Factor has not begun, yet I have my distaste for it already. Paula is a judge… again! Please, save me. Not just that, I have two students who have been through 2 and 3 audition segments and  did not make the cut. These are real singers, not potentially good, but real good, ready-for-primetime good.

The shows that I have faith in, are The Voice’ and the “Sing Off’   These are shows that showcase real talent. Not someone in a E T costume, then it is just a freak show.  I find the superstar coaches on the ‘The Voice’ are really honest, helpful and not just showing up.

I’ve had it with the Simons, and Paulas. They did a good job the first give years, but all good things must end. I would never want any of my students to sing for Simon, I just don’t think he is qualified. He likes ‘Il Divo’ and that’s fine, but it gives you an idea of his taste. Classical!  Good luck with pleasing him.  ‘America’s Got Talent’ is its own entity, jugglers against singers? I enjoy it, Michael Grimm deserved to win.

I remember ‘Star Search”.  that was a great show, but we have evolved and ‘The Voice” gets my vote!

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

“The Voice” stands out as new singing competition TV show

The Voice NBC TV Show“The Voice” opened with Cee Lo Green’s and Knarls Barkley’s huge hit, “Crazy”. The four judges sing this together. Christina, Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, and Cee Lo.

They will compete with teams, and eliminate contestants from eight down to four people.  Mark Burnett of “Survivor”, is the producer. I have a new respect for him,, I am so thrilled that the screening of these singers has been thoughtful, and caring.  Very few people did not cut it and I agree that they were not ready.  But, no one has been really bad!!

The premise is four superstar judges have their backs turned, and they listen to a voice, and if one or more is interested in coaching and working with them, they turn around. If 2 or more turn around, the singer has  to choose which singer to work with.

The wonderful judges, Cee Lo, Christina Goddess Aguilara, Blake Shelton, and Adam Levine. The concept is their backs to the singers so they need to impress right away. Then, the judges fight for their fav singers to be on their team, and the final teams will compete.

These judges cannot see the singers so it is fantastic that it is the voice that turns them around, or not!  There was a married duo, They were so surprised to hear two voices,  that all of them turned around, but being from Nashville, they choose Blake Shelton to work with them.

I love that breathe control, and phrasing, is important.  They can FEEL emotion without looking at a face and being distracted. It is about time, that the voice is more important than performance.  I pretty much agreed with most picks. The judges are fighting over these hopefuls, they want to work with them, what a wonderful theme and opportunity for a young newbie to have to choose between all these great stars.

Thank you for “The Voice”, now I have something to blog and write about and look forward to. I will be a critic of every choice once the show gets going with the finalists. I’ll give me opinion, and let you know what I think of everyone. I am so glad that Producers picked decent judges that have talent, can not only sing, but really know the business inside and out.

Country, R&B , Rock, Pop, it’s all covered. Adam Levine from “Maroon Five” is an incredible singer, he was without anyone on his team, at ten o clock, but an hour to go, he got more than the others! Cee Lo is so hot, now, thanks to his writer, Bruno Mars, that he the one they want to work with unless they are country, then it’s Blake.

All four judges turned for a country singer, who really was great. Patrick, he was the second contestant..  He was a younger, kind of plain-looking guy, they all wanted him.   He chose Adam!  How wonderful, you see, now he will get a chance to do something different.  It is a great concept.  Adam and Cee  Lo got the best singers I thought.

A surprise was  a contestant, from American Idol, eight years ago, Frenchie we all remember her. I thought she was a little off but they turned around and chose her, Christina got her on her team.

She said something though, she said “Never give up on your dream.” Even if you aren’t the best, or the cleanest singer, keep at it,, because there is someone for everyone. You may like Cher, and I may like Alicia Keys. It is a personal thing. I think you should tune in to The Voice, and enjoy the fun and competition

that goes on between the judges.  It is very amusing and  not a waste of time!

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

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