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BellaOnline's Pop Music Editor

American Idol - A Conundrum to Me

This is the article that I swore I would never write. I told my mother, my husband, my best friends - Kelly and Kerryl - and even mentioned to my cat, Gus, that I was not going to do anything about Idol. I just couldn’t. It wouldn’t be perfect.

Please don’t get the wrong idea—I don’t dislike American Idol. It’s entrenched into the culture of pop music and has spun some incredible talent.

No, my reason for not writing sooner about American Idol is because I feel uneducated—I haven’t been watching. In my obsessive compulsive world, I have to start things from the beginning, make lists, do research, know the whole story. But, after catching a video of the results show this week and seeing the look of deep sadness in Gina Glocksen’s eyes, my heart broke and I needed to write. Please keep in mind that these are my words, my opinions and my feelings. I know the name Sanjaya Malakar and that the past few weeks have been filled with controversial reports on TV, in newspapers and on the Internet about the show and the voting process. Yet, I don’t know the whole story and I will let you explain it to me in the Pop Talk forum. What I want to write about is why this show is a conundrum to me.

How Do They Do It?

I can’t imagine what it would be like to make the decision to try out for this show. My career has offered me safety and shelter because I have easily hidden in radio studios behind microphones or in the solace of my own writing and art studio sitting in front of my laptop.

These kids put themselves out there. They have to work on their songs, what they will wear, how they will get to an audition, and then face the panel of three. For national television their triumphs and turmoils are recorded and many leave the room without the coveted piece of paper or the phrase “You’re going to Hollywood.”

The ones who do make it have something a little less than boot camp ahead of them. Their days are structured and their time spent for the most part, strictly on their passion – singing. They have to learn new music, new styles, worry about song selections and Simon.

When the finals come around, those who are determined, talented and courageous, are left standing before a camera, judges, live audiences and thousands, if not millions, of television viewers.

Suddenly, it’s as if everyone knows them. Their most private of moments are captured on archival film for years and years to come. Like Gina. A moment so passionate and personal – sorrow - and she shared it with millions of people. And then she sang.

I admire and respect these kids. We won’t go into the calculation of my age at this time, but they are kids to me and they have lived a lifetime in one season, seeing things and doing things I will never have the chance to do. Not that I want to be a singer, but it’s a conundrum to me and hard to understand that type of courage and determination. Everyone is watching and you have to go on. Sure people watch all of us everyday, but it’s not replayed over and over and written about on a daily basis. They are suddenly in the celebrity status mode which I’ve heard is part of the whole process. It’s a long process and that leads me to why I don’t watch.

The American Idol Commitment

It takes a lot of time to be an American Idol follower and fan. In my mind, and because I’m a perfectionist, I know from first hand experience how much time you can put into the show. Since season two, I have had to set some priorities in my life and I just didn’t make time for American Idol.

I discovered the show after it was already a year old. Taking night classes at our local community college only allowed me to tune in on a hit or miss basis the first season. The second season was different because I caught an incredibly bad case of bronchitis. On the couch with a vaporizer, medication, red licorice and tepid cups of Earl Grey tea, I flipped through channels until I spotted a skinny young man with glasses. “Geek”, my mind shouted. Then he opened his mouth and began to sing. He had me on the first note. Yes, it was Clay Aiken and I followed his heartbreaking cut, his wild card comeback and his final second place win. My husband laughed lovingly as I joined fan clubs, wrote articles, dabbled in fan fiction and art as well as traveled across country to attend concerts. I became a member of “Clay Nation.” I met so many people and ended up meeting the most fantastic person who would later become a forever friend and my creative writing partner – Kelly.

I’m glad I did it. It’s given me a new perspective on music and being a fan. It just seems that these days I write more than watch.

Two Girls Named Kelly

It’s Kelly who gets the credit for this article. She posted in the Pop Talk forum about an upcoming CD release. I sent her an email thanking her and she wrote back asking why I had yet to say anything about the show on Bella Online. I quickly wrote back that I didn’t watch, didn’t know much about this season. Her response was two sentences. “Other people do. Maybe they want to talk about it.”

And maybe you do. Maybe you can tell me what you think about this season and seasons past. Are you a fan? Did you or do you spend time each week with a notebook in hand in front of the television. Do you tick off family members because they can’t talk to you until commercial breaks or use the phone or interrupt your text messaging until the allotted voting time is over?

Please visit the Pop Talk forum and let me know. Oh, and the CD release Kelly posted – it’s about another Kelly - Kelly Clarkson.

Clarkson is releasing her third album since winning the first season of American Idol. “My December” is expected out this summer and the first single “Never Again” should start getting radio play around April 11. She is also planning a tour.

Clay Aiken is also planning to hit the stage this summer (REALLY!!!!) and hinted last week that he has a new album in the works.

And Gina, well, we will hear Gina sing again as she will be on tour with American Idol this summer.

Maybe, just maybe, I can stomp out the perfectionist voice in me and start watching. I can become educated.

Have a great weekend!

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