’American Idol’ 2010: Can Ellen DeGeneres pass the test?

Here we go again. Psychiatrists around the country are bracing for the onslaught of sessions for contestants who got hammered in the American Idol Season Nine interview process. Contestants who are praying Fox Television will not televise, or portray them as foolish, during the most embarrassing moment of their young lives. It will be worse than they imagine, and it if they were exceptionally bad, they just might make the advertisement highlights.

The big change this year, of course, is we no longer have sweetheart Paula Abdul on the panel. Paula often displayed a soft spot for many of the show’s underdogs; however, at least she had industry skills tied to her decisions.

This year we are graced with the presence of judge Ellen DeGeneres. Frankly, I’m not sure about her skills to adequately give an informed opinion on this competition. She would have been a better replacement for Ryan Seacrest as MC than Paula as a judge. There are so many experienced industry leaders who are more qualified for the position.

Ellen is a great host who is better suited for a season of “Last Comic Standing.” Without being a musician does she understand the dynamics of this type of competition?

Fox certainly wants her for the entertainment value. Additionally, she delivers an instant audience from the fans of her talk show. Fox boasts, “Ellen will offer her own unique perspective to the contestants throughout the competition.” However, does she have the ability to spot winners outside of her witty humor?

There is a very fine line between having a good voice, and a great voice. Just because someone can hit all the notes of a song does not make them great. It is a very small segment of the overall skill set necessary to make it in the music industry.

Although Simon Cowell’s calling card is his abrasive approach, he’s always looking toward the big picture. The winner of “American Idol” in 2010 must have at bare minimum a great voice. They must have creativity, stage presence, an understanding of music composition and a moldable personality. Simon is very good at not just discovering the obvious stars of the competition, but sensing those with star potential.

Simon is however the leader of telling it like it is. When someone has been convinced by friends and family how great they sing, it is extremely difficult to explain they don’t have the vocal chops to compete.

Should the panelist consider nervousness? Everyone’s nervous, although a bad audition could be tied to “being scared to death,” and that’s undeniably part of the big picture. As a contestant you must understand how to recover from a blunder, through the humility, before a large audience. Many of these contestants get little rest and suffer from a whirlwind of interviews and publicity sessions. Watch the first round of competition; many will fall apart and lose the competition long before hitting the stage.

Large record contracts are very difficult to obtain. Millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours are dedicated to making an artist successful. Record companies want a product they can control and nothing less than great in every aspect of the music business.

Ellen understands comedic talent, but I ‘m concerned Ellen does not have an understanding of the music industry. They are not remotely similar. Both Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi have extensive industry and studio experience. Artists such as David Cook and Carrie Underwood blossom in a studio environment. Others are awesome live, but can’t find the magic in the studio. They are entertainers, not recording artists… big difference!

Fox is obviously is not concerned about Ellen knowing the remaining panelists have the proper tools to weed out future stars. Ellen has been signed for entertainment purposes and to a five-year contract. I hope her ignorance to this new environment doesn’t cause embarrassment or blemish to her image. I don’t think her presence as a judge will hurt the show. It will be interesting to see if Ellen has the Midas touch for American Idol she has displayed throughout her career… The jury is in session!

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