You know you can't sing, so give up the `American' dream

February 08, 2007|By Kevin Cowherd | Kevin Cowherd,Sun Columnist

Let's say you're under the illusion that you have a great singing voice, OK?

So one day you get up in front of an audience and belt out a tune, and the reaction is pure death.

Some people are wincing. Others are smirking and looking down at their shoes.

Still others are getting up and leaving the room, rolling their eyes and shaking their heads.

Wouldn't you get the hint here?

Wouldn't it dawn on you that you, um, stink as a singer?

Apparently not.

I say this because after a column last week about American Idol, in which I said all these horrible singers on the hit Fox show know they're horrible, a number of readers e-mailed to say I was wrong.

See, that's the beauty of the show, these readers said. These awful singers actually think they're good! That's why it's so much fun to watch!

Then I picked up USA Today this week, and there was an article quoting a couple of "psychological professionals" who said that in many cases, the screechers on Idol really do think they can sing.

"The very narcissistic honestly believe they are awesome even when there's no evidence" of it, one shrink told the newspaper.

Sorry, I still don't buy it.

Look, I have a lot of respect for the readers of this column who watch Idol so they can laugh cruelly at the talentless.

And I don't have any fancy psychology degrees hanging on my office walls.

But I have watched people sing horribly for many years.

In fact, I have sung horribly for many years, on those occasions when I've had too many beers and been persuaded to get up on stage with the great area "blue-eyed soul" band, Jr. Cline and the Recliners.

But no one who sings horribly is unaware, in his heart of hearts, that he sings horribly. Even after too many beers.

Look, when you stand up and sing in front of someone, you get immediate feedback, don't you?

If you're good, people will smile and nod and move to the beat.

If you stink, people will look as if someone just ran over their dog.

Even if it's a family member trying to encourage you, or a friend trying to let you down gently, you'll see in his or her face if you're any good or not.

So don't tell me these screechers on Idol are clueless about how bad they are.

If they've ever sung in front of others, they know they're bad. But as I wrote in that earlier column, they don't care.

All they care about is getting a shot at fame. And if it comes as a result of an embarrassing singing performance on national TV, well, so what?

Even that's better than no fame at all.

But since that first Idol column last week, I've thought of another reason why someone who sings horribly would appear on the show instead of doing the decent thing and never, ever inflicting themselves on an audience again.

And do you know what that reason is?

I'll tell you what it is.

It's because we live in a culture that sends a message that you can be anything you want to be, as long as you work real hard and stick to it and - here's the most important part, let's say it altogether - never give up.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what's ruining show business in this country.

Because the fact is that a lot of these performers should give up.

In fact, adopting a defeatist attitude would be the best thing they could do for themselves.

Because a lot of them could practice their acts from sunup to sundown seven days a week for years, and it wouldn't matter.

They could spend thousands of dollars and take singing lessons from the best coaches in the business, and it wouldn't matter.

They would still stink.

So to those for whom this is true, I urge you to adopt the following mindset: Oh, what's the use of pursuing my dream? I'm terrible. And I'll never get any better.

There, that's the spirit.

So put down that microphone.

Get off that stage.

And stop bugging the producers of American Idol.

And if you must sing, do what others with no talent do: Sing in the shower.

Or drink a lot of beer and sing only to those who have also drunk a lot of beer.

Both options have worked well for me.

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