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 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

X-Factor Semi-Finals Contestant Melts Down – Unwatchable TV

x-factor-meltdown-rachel-crowI tuned in for the X-Factor semi-finals. I wasn’t knocked out by the performances, but thought that 13-year-old Rachel Crow deserved to be in the finals. She was up against a young man, perhaps 18, Marcus Canty. His performance was weak and out of tune. When the judges gave their save votes, Simon and Paula choose Rachel to stay. Wow, nice surprise. However the other judges, L.A. Reid voted for a male singer and Nicole gave up her vote because she couldn’t cut Rachel. Nicole was crying over it.

Then the Host read the ‘viewers vote’ and as he announced Rachel was leaving, she crumpled to the floor as though fainting. Her mic still on, she was hysterical. Her mother, Simon and Paula all came up and tried to soothe her, but she was out of control. Then saying to her mother “You promised!” …

Excuse me, but promised what!!?? You led your 13-year-old daughter to believe she would win this show? I was very upset, remembering my daughter in pre-school losing a costume contest and her tears welling up on stage, and swore to never put my daughter in that situation again.

The idea of removing age minimums or limits may have seemed like a good idea; however, watching this young girl come apart, before my eyes, was way too much in the name of entertainment.

The X-Factor last night, for me, was not entertainment. It was excruciating pain.

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

The ‘Reality’ of Reality Shows: An X-Factor Experience

Javon and Ken

Javon and Ken

Several of my students have auditioned for American Idol, The Voice and X-Factor. Most have gone on to the 2nd and 3rd round of producers, only to not make it to the little, or big screen in your home.

The latest audition was a story I just had to share with you. Ken is a strong singer and presence, tall, dark, handsome, ex military, good contestant. I will admit, at first, I thought The X Factor would be something different. The clips on YouTube , from its UK edition were impressive. But, when the show announced that Paula Abdul was joining Simon, I thought “Uh Oh, here we go again…”

Well, my Uh Oh moment came true.  Before I even get to my students audition, The show became unwatchable when they had the American Idol-like, bad singers, and a guy who actually DROPPED his pants in front of the live audience. ENOUGH! I am sorry, I am no prude, but you turn away thousands of good singers for this nonsense?

My student Ken (pictured far right, with another contestant, Javon), and his wife Michelle, flew to Los Angeles, waited six and a half hours, just to get the tickets! The next day , they waited in the rain, until 7pm. Ken made it through to the next day’s rounds. That meant, another night of lodging expenses, and Michelle and Ken missing work. Something the X-Factor Producers couldn’t care less about.

Now the third day, second round of auditions,  He got his golden ticket, and they stayed over again. This time, the security was very rude to Ken’s wife, literally pushing her back.

Ken wasn’t really upset he didn’t make this third round, BUT, he was surprised that some very good singers were passed over. They took 35 people all under 35 years of age from the Los Angeles auditions. Ken is good, and he was better than the man they did take with the oxygen tank. Just sayin’…

These shows are all scripted and calculated. I wouldn’t bet your career on any of these shows.

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

America “got it right” on America’s Got Talent

Michael-GrimmI am pleased that Michael Grimm won this season, instead of a novelty act. He is the real deal. Having heard him live many times, I can tell you he is even better, in-person. His win was a wonderful surprise to me.

The American public has been a big disappointment to me lately.  I now wonder if the intelligent people in this country are so busy watching the reality shows on TV that are ignoring extreme problems in our country.

I suppose as long as we can tune in and watch Bristol Palin on “Dancing with the Stars” everyone is oblivious as to why this young lady is on this show and why we know her name. I was under the impression to be considered a “Star” you had to accomplish something other than be a VP candidate’s pregnant teenage daughter.

When I watch “Glee” it makes me feel better, when I go out to hear a great band, it makes me feel better. Music is a healing tool, but I fear that this cultural war going on, caused mostly by your upbringing and religion,is going to overtake us.

I am urging anyone that reads my blogs, to be informed about the real world, not to listen to soundbites, carefully edited for bias, and become a citizen of our universe, and give a damn.  Just Google for the news and hear the entire phrase, not the ripped version of their truth.

Now, good news, As I watch the first episode of Glee , I am impressed by the new talent they hired. A diverse group, a rapper, a long haired blonde pretty boy, and a little Filipino cutie , good singer. I”m wondering if  any of them were chosen by that internet audition bit they pulled over the summer.  The show loses my interest when they aren’t singing and dancing, but it does deal with real issues and I enjoy the show.

I have many new students, now, and a lot of them are really good. I am going to have a great 2011, I wish you do too, and keep reading my  blog posts.

American Idol has gone to the internet for auditions, you can go to the official site and upload your video.  Gee, wonder where they got that idea?

X Factor… bring it on!!!

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

American Idol: Who Should Be Da Judge?

Ellen DeGeneres is gone, i understand, having two shows must be gruelling. Also, she was too nice to want to hurt anyone”s feelings.

Why American Idol has let Kara DioGuardi go is a mystery? Perhaps she wanted Simon Cowell’s paycheck. We are left with on Randy Jackson. One is a lonely number indeed. Should it be Howard Stern? Were they pulling our leg?  They postponed the big press conference so we are left in the dark. All I know is, one of my best students auditioned and she is breath taking and sings well and she didn’t get through.

They do that all the time. I know many people who are truly good almost great singers that have not made the cut. Guess the pants down guy was more important than real talent. I predict X Factor is going to wipe the stage away from Idol.  They lost what they were about. Finding true talent.  They want a sob story and a clown to tell it.

if they were smart, the new American Idol judges should be someone IN the music industry. Not an actor, spokesmodel, or dancer who lip-synced her way through life.  Not an easy task, but not impossible. I think  they underestimate our intelligence. Michael tyler, a contender, is not really a singer. Give us, Dolly Parton, Shania Twain, Cyndi Lauper, I think Whitney needs a job!

I don’t know about you, but last year was painful and not fun to watch. the summer tour was NOT the economy. People find the money to see concerts. Music is a priority in an economic meltdown. it lifts the spirits. people didn’t go because it was weak.

For the sake of millions of wannabe’s out there who need a venue to get ahead, i hope idol gets it together and gets us back on track to love it again. I for one, will be blogging X Factor and probably have a lot to say about each week, having peeked at the UK version. So, Idol producers, You are the ones who should go, bring back Kara and get Lyle lovitt, and let’s get this party started!

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