I get the Susan Boyle thing. It is, after all, a great story: never-been-kissed spinster from working-class Scottish town — from another era really — turns the tables of fortune on its ass before millions on British — now YouTube — TV. I mean, even Disney couldn’t make this stuff up. It’s Cinderella on steroids. It’s Pygmalion on pills. And the media barons have their content fix for the week.
But, despite it’s heartwarming feature – and the woman really appears to be the salt of the earth – the whole win-a-career-in-the-music-biz-overnight deal is quite irksome – annoying, actually– to music-industry veterans.
It comes down to callused hands. What do I mean? Well, in the heartland there’s a swift and certain vetting of suspected interlopers: “show us your hands, son.” Real farmers and ranchers bear the branding of their trade. “American Idol”s don’t.
Don’t get me wrong. “Idol” has actually uncovered some legit talent. Carrie Underwood, for example, is one of the best singers of her generation and is one of my faves.
Yet season after season, it’s irksome to the true laborers in the union of the real American performing artist to see folks believe that merely dreaming about stardom in their bedrooms is what forming a music career is all about, when union members are out there season after season pounding the pavement, the record label corridors, the club stages and the social media byways. The latter is called dues, man. And that’s the way the real music biz works.