Television talent shows offer great opportunities for songwriters. But, I have to admit I have conflicting feelings about them. To me, it seems like an unlikely environment in which to birth a star. With so much weight placed on vocal pyrotechnics, sometimes I wonder if Tom Petty or Carole King would have made it through the first week. Plus…The pressure, the control, the scripting!! That said, the ratings speak for themselves.
And, occasionally, a star is born. Kelly was the first. And therefore the Queen, if you will. Clearly, Kelly was, (and still is), the real deal. Great chops…Auto tune optional but certainly not required. She co-wrote 2 songs on her first album and worked her way up to contributing more and more. She still makes it to the top of the charts over 10 years later. Every show should want a Kelly.
Javier Colon blew everyone away when he sang, “Time After Time” for his “blind audition” on The Voice season 1. He was also the real deal. But regardless of the fact that Javier was an experienced songwriter, personally, I wish he made an album of covers (previous hits) and gave the people what it was they fell in love with. Javier sings Cindy Lauper, Bill Withers, and James Taylor ….With nothing more than an acoustic guitar in his arms. But the production company stood to profit from an album on which Javier wrote the songs, (one with yours truly) because winners sign over most of their writer’s royalties to their publishing company. But they didn’t wind up benefiting much because Javier’s album only sold 20,000 copies. I wonder if it would have had a bigger impact had they made that album of covers. Maybe that would have allowed him a second album. Javier might have been to The Voice what Kelly was to American Idol. But he was dropped. The Voice went on to season 2 with hardly a mention of his lovely name.
I guess I’ve been naïve. Adam, (my husband) assures me that the economics of television are all about ratings and if ratings are high, millions of dollars can be made selling advertising time over the course of a season, way more revenue than a hit record generates…and so, the forthcoming album is secondary. WHAT?? After all my Tuning In and Voting and Caring and Popcorn? I believe Adam. He’s very smart. But I want to stay in denial.
There are so many talent shows now, I can’t remember who won what!! Aren’t they going to become a bit redundant? Haven’t they already? And won’t the ones with the most successful winner have the best chance of survival? And if that’s so, doesn’t it make sense that the winners have the most advantageous repertoire?? Cuz staying on the air will generate more advertising…so it’s good for everyone, right?? Honestly, I am just an outsider looking in wondering these things…I’m sure there’s a lot I’m not privy to, but in my albeit very naïve imaginings, they could all have their cake and eat it too. And maybe we’d have a lot more Kellys.
PS…Kelly, if you’re reading this, that was me who finished that song you started with you know who. It was not me who turned in the label copy and left your name off. I never got to tell you I was sorry about what happened. I wasn’t responsible. But I still felt bad.