In America the motto is "you can be anything you want to be if you want it bad enough". This is not true, as we saw time and time again tonight on American Idol. The first episode of American Idol proved that it is THE talent show of the new millennium. It ran the gamut of human emotions from tears of joy to tears of sadness and sometimes just downright confusion. It also gave me the best laughs I have had in months. It is hard to believe that some of these people don’t own a simple tape recorder. American Idol proves that self delusion is an extremely strong aberration of the human psyche.

Some of these contestants were just looking for some camera time. Many looked like they had never been to an audition. Some acted as though they had never been told NO by anyone. Rejection can be an ugly thing, but if you put it out there, expect the truth from these judges. Randy, Paula, and Simon have coalesced into a group that works well together and are very adept at seeing that sparkle of talent that is so rare. Paula, still the heart of the group is better at telling the truth than she was last year. She’s a little more direct, yet more adept at softening her blows. Randy and Simon are still the truth tellers. Some of Simon’s lines are obvious plays to his own camera, but they are usually right on.

This show is about Pop Music. It’s not necessarily everyone’s favorite music all the time. There are some corny songs out there as Kelly’s first single proved. The judges themselves said that most Pop stars don’t necessarily sing very good and often rely on exposure of skin surface to boost their marketability. The unusual thing about these judges is that they claim to be on a quest to reset the standards. They want singers that can sing first. There were discussions of image also, yet I was pleased they chose a larger woman contestant based on her abilities and vivaciousness, rather than her weight.

The music business is a tough one. There are great singers that already have recorded great records that go nowhere. Fate, timing, marketing, and luck may all play a role in success. Without a basic foundation of ability though, it’s a lot tougher sale. If you want to be in a pick-up band and play dance halls and bars on the weekend, sing a couple of numbers after you drink a six and have some fun, that’s great. But, don’t bring it to American Idol. It is one tough competition. It is also an amazing marketing idea that does not drop the contestants after a loss. The losers (in the upper ranks) benefited greatly from their participation and will continue to for some time. As hard as it was on some (Simon is still critical of some of the first round winners), they were rewarded with a national tour, and several have performance contracts of various types.

As well as smashing some American myths, American Idol still exemplifies the American Dream. A young waitress or student or unemployed singer CAN be the next American Idol. First things first though. Make sure you have ambition AND talent.

Tomorrow night promises more fun with early auditions. This episode will include the auditions in Nashville. Expect a lot of good singers. The competition is fierce here on a daily basis. Most days you can drive down Music Row and still see singers walking the streets with guitar case in hand on the way to the next audition. It’s a way of life here and I expect to see some interesting auditions.