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

How To Avoid Hitting The Wall, Before Your Career Takes Hold

This Business of “Show” is very difficult. I know, remember. I was dropped by a label at age 14. I didn’t give up. It was not the end of the world. I spent my entire life singing. You may not have bought my records, but I was out there, entertaining and dancing for all the people who were there to be entertained.

A couple of years ago, I had some students who were right there at the doorstep of being signed by a major label. They had the right manager with connections and some of the best writers… two of whom are now very famous and have gone out on their own as performers. They had videos and me as a coach, and stylists. What went wrong? At that crucial moment they were to do a showcase, they decided that the direction the of the songs, were, well, not the way they wanted to go! What?? When did they decide this?

After a YEAR of recording, pictures, videos, choreography, and going to Los Angeles for a showcase, suddenly, they were not happy with the material? One must realize, that to even have a realistic shot in the recording industry, today, you have to know someone.

Where are these artists now? In a lawsuit with the former manager, waiting for their day in court, hopefully, to be set free to do their own thing. Whatever that will be. Meanwhile the years are going by and their youth is going by.

Then, you must have the material, already produced. It is essential to look great AND young, and be molded and controlled by a record label. Case in point: Kelly Clarkson won American Idol and had to do that stupid movie with Justin-whoever-he-was, and then she hated her music. She had become a big star, but clashed with Clive Davis and went on to produce her next CD without him. It tanked… big time.

Young, new singers, need to listen to the big boys. They know what it takes. If you think you know it all, you have another thing coming.

If you really are a serious artist, you need to be a serious contender. You have to be ready for rejection, and failure. You need a backup plan. Sheryl Crow was a backup singer for Michael Jackson. She first played the really decrepit Huntridge Theater the first time her band was in Vegas. It took time, and the right song before her dream came true.

Have a dream, but have a plan, but listen to those who have been in the business before you, and trust them. Believe me, you cannot do it on your own!

Good Luck

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

Born to sing? How do you get there?

They said it tonight, on American Idol, and it is said over and over: “You were born to sing”. Well, yeah, thanks, but what do you do if you don’t have the contacts, or “juice” TO GET STARTED.

It is very hard and you must have a plan. If you have read my blogs you know, my dad simply took me up to Capitol Records and I sang behind the president’s desk. Wham, had a contract. Not that easy now.  Not half as easy, so you must plan how to get discovered.

There have been people  discovered  on YouTube. That is one way. If you do it this, make sure you are brilliant to get as many hits as you can.  I have students who are much better than the two final contestants on American Idol so I know it is largely luck and timing.

If you have a backer {financier}, you can find originals and record some great songs and shop them. My student Cherish Berdahl did this.We went to Nashville through a friend of mine, Producer Eric Bikales. Eric found 4 great songs and they are better than anything I have heard on the CMA’s.

The songwriters are Grammy award winning writers, Vince Melemed, Danny Orton and David Kent. These songs and her voice are so strong I know it is a matter of time before It happens for her. She is a better singer now since we recorded in  Oct, so I am in favor of her re-doing the vocals. This is one wasy to go, but it isn’t cheap.

Another way is to go to Los Angeles, get a day job, and sing in clubs every where and every time you can. Learn to read music and be a session singer. Do ANYTHING you can to get out there. Check out people who come on to you, don’t trust anyone. it is easy to do a background check. See if they are in the unions, or just do a search for warrants. It is a rough business and people will promise you everything and give nothing.

My two students D&A have recorded at least 6 sides and one video. They are so close and still it hasn’t happened. They are ready. They dance, sing, have personality, looks to kill and supportive parents. If it is hard for them to get a deal, it is really hard for anyone! A Record label has been courting them for months and no deal yet.

The Fulco Family from here in Vegas, took a few lessons from me, they have just decided to be on “Wife Swap” to get noticed. Any publicity will help; they are smart to do this. They are a modern day “Partridge family” band and they are good.

So bottom line is… get out there, stay active, be creative, and keep at it. Don’t give up, after all, you were born to do it!

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

Harry Connick: THE reason to watch Idol

harry-connick-jr-standingThe only good thing about American Idol tonight is Harry Connick Jr.. Can’t wait for him. The opening number is usually  pre-recorded and pretty good, but once in awhile, thought, hmm, this must be live because it was out of tune?

I’m going to skip all the hooplah on Lady Ga Ga, thank you. Better part of the show was showing rehearsal, and the stand in judges, a black man, a blonde, a brunette, and a white guy!! Very funny bit.

The contestants did a medley of Harry Connick songs, clever. The songs were pre-recorded, so it was great.  Harry Connick was OK, He is very funny, good actor, prefer him on films now.  Now we  have Michael Buble?  Is that mean?  But he is adorable and funny so he can stay.

So  the  drum roll  please:  Aaron says bye bye. Bye Aaron, you were one lucky guy to stay this long.

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

Harry Connick Jr. Swings American Idol on Sinatra Night

Harry Connick Jr.

Harry Connick Jr.

Harry Connick Jr. didn’t just mentor the week, he arranged every song himself, and led the band while playing piano and organ.

No one has ever gotten that involved. I hope they do this sort of thing again. They showed a lot of footage of Sinatra, which was sweet to watch. Can’t believe it has been 12 years since his passing. Connick really worked with these singers on every note. This is what they all needed weeks ago. Tina Sinatra and a wax figure of Nancy Sinatra were in the audience. They gave Simon a scarf of Franks’s.

I wish they would let vocal coaches work with these people. I just don’t understand why they don’t. I  don’t agree with Ellen because I heard country at the end of the song.

  • Aaron did all right. It was a little country for swing. but he was in tune.
  • Casey was second  with Connick, and he is very funny.  Said something interesting, “Sometimes it isn’t about the lyric, it’s about the groove”. That is true when you sing a song that has silly lyrics. I thought Casey was just awful. this is not his genre.
  • The theme idea is stupid. Not all singers can sing the same style songs, it is unfair to those who cannot do well on those awkward weeks.  If you have a fast vibrato, you won’t sound good doing Sinatra. He was all about control.
  • Crystal was right on with an evening gown, hair up and jazzy Peggy lee cool style of  singing  Summer Wind.
  • Mike Lynche was in his element with “Just the Way you Look Tonight” I love this song so much. He was so comfortable.   He nailed this, out of sight, right on brother.
  • Lee was OK on “That’s Life”, but after Mike, but there is no doubt this season belongs to Mike and Crystal..

Marciel over and out.

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

The Art of the Audition

Singer auditionEvery so often, I get a new student who just comes to me for one week, every day, to get ready for an audition.

In the winter I get alot of American Idol hopefuls. I haven’t had a bad one yet. I get amazing people come to me, and I am grateful for the website. Thank you Andy Ebon, master of websites in mine, and many other minds.

It’s true,  I have truly  amazing students. but the dreaded audition, the pain and humiliation, it is an art.

I have auditioned so many times in my life, I have to believe I learned alot over the years.

At the age of 12 i sat across from the CEO of Capitol Records and sang with my guiter that I stummed badly, and got my first recording contract for 6 sides, that is 3 single records. Remember records, no you probably heard of them though.

The first most important thing is to find a song that makes you stand out. A song that will show your strengths, and if is  too long,, start at the bridge and shoot for the coda.

You have to get their attention right away and hold it all the way through.  One way to do that, is to choose a song that you have passion for, one you love and  feel sure about.

You  now have to paste and cut the song to 16 bars. That is the hard part, because you need to show your range and emotions..

You have to believe the song. You are a story teller. You must be so involved in your song, that the people in the room do not matter anymore. Do your thing and draw them in. If you really sincere, they will come with you, on your 16 bar journey.

Then, you must choose an alternate song,, in case they want more.  Most of the time they know right away if you are what they are looking for.  They have someone in mind, Do not , I repeat, do not take rejection personally. I mean it, if you have faith, and you are good, you are just the wrong type for this particular show.

When you walk into the audition, be confident, walk straight, be nice to all the other people there to audition.

When you go up to the stage or go  into the room, whatever it is, make sure that before, you have gone somewhere quiet to relax, and meditate or whatever works for you. In my classes, I use relaxation exercises  before we start the lesson, to have  them focus and be in the groove and get the work done. You can,t be distracted, you need to separate  your complicated life and  give the song respect.

So, in short, the song, the respect for others, the focus, and get into the whole mood of the song. Choose wisely,  someone should

write a book with great audition songs. It would be so much easier, and we wouldn’t have to hear Black Velvet every year on American  Idol!

Good Luck and go get em!

My on-camera moment about American Idol

Thank you Google, I was found online by a very clever editor at Fox channel 5 TV news. Was it the banner on my web site that says, read about what I thought about American Idol? I don’t think so, but it worked for me and answered his prayer of finding a voice coach to be on T V and talk about how she or he really feels about American Idol??

A reporter, Jason came with a camera, and he wanted to come Thursday at 2pm, that,s when I had D&A, I said could you come a little later. Lucky for the girls, D&A he wanted to film a minute or so of the lesson. I cleared it with the manager, and the parents,and they were wonderful.

I have to admit, I had to hold back my true feelings, I had to remember it IS a TV show, and gets great ratings, so who am I to say they are doing anything wrong. I could not admit how I suffer when watching. So I did the right thing, and sugar coated it. Lucky for me, Jason asked great questions and felt pretty much the same way. That gave me the ease to be truthful but tactful.

This will air on the 9th or 10th right after American Idol.

I’m glad for the press, can’t hurt, right? Also, I can talk about myself forever, so it wasn’t hard!

The hard part is that the camera was right up my nose, it seemed like that so I’m dreading looking at myself. I really think performers are the hardest on themselves, I’m no exception.

Being on stage all these years, and getting older in the business, is not easy. And the hi def, no wonder everyone in Hollywood is hooked on Botox and ruining their looks.

I, however will not go there. Hmmm, Never say never.

Would you wear a tank top to a wedding??

American Idol Commentary

American Idol Commentary

I noticed that nearly every contestant on American Idol, was wearing leggings and tank tops. unless you are Heidi Klum, this is not a flattering look.

If you want to get on this show, why would you not want to look your best?? Atlanta had some bad ass singers and I was more into this second night. Fewer freaks, more real talent. keep this up and they won’t lose me. But people… Please wear something nice when you audition… first impressions count a lot.

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

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