2 Lessons from American Idol – Top 7

Got behind in my blogging again – here are the two lessons from American Idol – Top 7.  In Idol 7 – Alicia Keys was the Mentor and she talked about how she intended to help the contestants find out what they’re made of.  And that “Idol Gives Back” will help them discover what their character is and how to be a part of something bigger than themselves.

She gave them guidance to really connect with the song and communicate their uniqueness through the song.  The problem I see a lot of the contestants having is that instead of discovering who they are and communicating honestly through the music, they are trying to apply uniqueness externally – from the outside in.

Lesson 1 – Your Uniqueness as an Artist Emerges as an Expression of Your Internal Truth.

Tim Urban,who was voted off this week, got the nickname of Teflon Tim because nothing seems to rattle him.  And that could be a positive sign, when it’s coming from a genuine internal confidence and strength.  But with Tim, it’s not just that nothing seems to rattle him.  It’s that nothing seems to genuinely touch him – nothing gets more than an inch deep.

He’s cut off from himself – and I think it’s the result of a lack of confidence and faith in himself.  It’s as if he’s afraid that if he lets anything really touch him, he’ll shatter into a million pieces.  And so, his smile reads false, because it is.  His improvement from week to week has been minimal, because you can’t truly grow unless you open yourself up and risk the pain.  They don’t call it growing pains for nothing, right?

Siobhan Magnus started out really being in touch with herself and expressing her uniqueness from a genuine and honest place.  But each week, she’s become more and more withheld and subdued.  And now, her outfits feel like an externally applied mask of uniqueness, rather than a true expression of herself, while her true expression of herself through the music becomes smaller and more held back each week.  Siobhan – win or lose – let it go and be true to your own artistry.  You don’t need everyone to love you to be truly successful as an artist.  Your true fans will relish who you really are.  Your task is to rediscover your own courage.  You’ve got it in you.  You’ve shown that.

How are you as an artist, exploring and expressing your uniqueness through your art?  Please comment and share with us your process in finding your unique voice!

Crystal Bowersox has been strong each week because she always expresses her unique self.  It’s why she’s such a powerhouse.  And her growth has been to stretch out of her own comfort zone and explore new ways to express herself.  But it is always coming from within.  This week’s performance was her most powerful for me, until she broke emotionally.  The judges praised her for that break.  I strongly disagree.

Lesson 2 – Your Emotions Must be in Service of the Music

Crystal started off “People Get Ready” with incredible strength and connectedness.  It gave me goosebumps.  And then towards the end, her voice broke and she started to cry.  When asked what happened, she said that she saw her father and broke down.

I’ve talked about this in previous posts – Lesson 3 from American Idol – Top 8 Females and Lesson 3 from American Idol – Top 10 – it is critical that the emotion is a result of connecting with the song and using the emotion and the song to communicate specifically and with intention.  When Crystal started focusing on her father, she lost her focus on the intention of her communication and as a result, her voice broke.  And for me, it broke the spell of the song.  Because it stopped being about my experience of the music and became about her.

When the performance is about the performer, it’s about ego, not communication.  And if there’s no communication then there’s no Art.  There’s only self-indulgence.

The distinction is to make your emotional connection be about communicating the story of the song, or the intention of the song.  What do you want your audience to experience?  Staying focused on your intention, who you’re singing to, why you’re singing and what you’re trying to do with each line, each note, each word, will solve many issues for singers.  It will help with breath support.  It will tremendously help with nerves.  And it will help with remembering the lyrics.  If you know why you’re saying a particular word or line – you will remember the words.

Making these decisions and choices must be part of your preparation of each song you are performing.  But different people have different ways to get there – what’s yours?