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The Lessons of American Idol

I love watching American Idol. Have been a fan for the past four seasons; I like the professionalism displayed by everyone involved in the show, but especially the judges. I’m not a singer myself, but I think that the combination of three long-standing judges plus the inclusion of newcomer Kara DioGuardi makes for a good mix. This is how I epitomize the four of them:

  • Randy Jackson makes for the “cool” factor in AI. There’s a sense of honesty in what he says, tinged with a little humor at times (like for instance, the “dawg” thing). He’s generally firm in his comments, but without coming over as overbearing. Plus, I don’t know why, but he has a fatherly character about him.
  • Paula Abdul is the kind spirit of AI. I think she’s a perfect alkali element compared to the other’s acidic remarks. She does come across as incoherent at times (and a little long-winded) but she does know her stuff. And her on-screen antics with Simon Cowell do provide some comic relief from judging the contestants. Good professionals do disagree; it’s an essential thing in a show like AI. If the judges were to agree with each other all the time, I’d be bored stiff.
  • Simon Cowell is my favorite judge, and the main reason why I watch this show. Yes he’s harsh, he’s brutal, he can be downright insulting, but he speaks it like he sees (and hears) it—the truth, as plain as it can be. After all, this is a competition, and a very grueling one at that. You have to be serious when entering this sort of competition. Criticisms can and do hurt, especially when they are hurled at you without mercy by Simon. Nevertheless, he’s absolutely honest and spot-on 99% of the time. And when and if he compliments a contestant, that’s something to relish!
  • Kara DioGuardi for me combines the traits of the other three judges into one. We do need people like this at times, people who can react instantly when they see talent, when they see someone fumbling and needs some correction, etc. Compared to Paula Kara speaks to the point, no beating about the bush with her. And she’s gorgeous.
  • Last but not least, Ryan Seacrest comes across as the perfect MC of AI. He’s very professional, speaks with an excellent voice, and generally comes across as a friend I’d like to have. His occasional wisecracks with Simon provide some bonus entertainment (I’ll always remember the one when he referred to Simon as Darth Vader). Ryan ably rounds off this quintet of fine people on the show.

As a piano instructor, sometimes I have to be kind and cool, at other times I have to be blunt and speak my mind. It works both ways—criticizing someone for not doing better does hurt, but students do need a little kick now and then to learn from their mistakes. And kindness must be given out within limits, too much and it can seem false and pretentious. The trick is maintaining the equilibrium, and experience has been the best teacher for me so far. Keep the show coming, American Idol. I’m still watching and learning.

Randy, Kara, Paula, and Simon

2 replies on “The Lessons of American Idol”

I absolutely abhor American Idol and all reality shows. Simon is a jackass. I hope you don’t treat your piano students like that! You can tell someone they suck without completely ridiculing them and embarrassing them in public. Politeness in honesty and bluntness goes a long way in these delicate situations.

P.S. Um yes, Americans do speak their minds, lol.

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