Greed and Stupidity cause the music industry to lose money


I was on a web site recently. It was a discussion forum.  One forum visitor, replying to a another who was having a particularly difficult struggling with an emotional issue, posted a link to a music video.  I was curious so I clicked the link.  I was brought to YouTube and a video for a song called “Jealousy” by Will Young.  I had no idea who Will Young was, nor had I ever heard that song.  I loved it. (See bottom of this posting for the video link.)

After a little research I found out the Will Young was the original “Idol” from the very first year in the U.K.  The original version of the show is called “Pop Idol” and when it later came to America, “American Idol”.  But Will Young was the very first ever in that franchise to win. And he’s had a VERY successful carreer.  I couldn’t believe that even with all that I had never heard of him.  I’m not a kid anymore but I try to keep up with what’s going on in the world.  So finding the song, and the artist was a pleasant surprise.

I immediately fired up iTunes (as much as I hate iTunes, sometimes that’s just where you have to go) and did a search.  A pop up box said he couldn’t be found.  I was surprised and a little bummed out.  But the pop up box also said that what I was looking for was available on the UK iTunes site.  Cool!.  So I followed the link to there and found the song. When I tried to purchase it, I was asked for my iTunes account and after typing that in, I was told I couldn’t buy the song because I was in the US and I “wasn’t allowed” to purchase the song.  What?!  I suddenly remembered this happening to me a year or so ago when I tried to download some other song.  At that time I went through the process of setting up and account on the UK iTunes website, made up a UK address and all went well until I put in my credit card number.  I was told the credit card number belonged to a USA bank and therefore could not be used.  Fucked again.  At that time, I gave up, pissed off at how stupid this all was.

But not this time; I wasn’t giving up.  I went to Amazon.com and did a search and had the same problem with not being able to purchase it because I was in the US.  I was not yet deterred complete.  While FREE music download sites like Napster, Limewire and Kazaa are long gone.there are still ways to get free music.

Let me say, first and foremost, that I believe in paying for music.  If I could have handed Will Young the $20 for his CD personally, I would have done it gladly.  I would have paid him, his record company, a record store, or anybody else to legally purchase this music.  HOWEVER, THE MUSIC INDUSTRY ITSELF HAD MADE IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR ME TO PURCHASE THE MUSIC I WANTED.

By using a torrent download site I was able to get the entire Will Young CD called “Echoes”.  I probably shouldn’t admit that I did it because it’s probably illegal.  But I will gladly pay the $20 to whomever should get it, if they can tell me how I can purchase the music without having to fly to the UK to do it.

So, music industry folks, I don’t know if you are dumb, greedy, or both.  It seems that one begets the other.  But you need to get you act together.  I believe that most people are like me.  I would gladly pay for ANY AND ALL MUSIC THAT I WOULD LIKE TO HAVE, JUST GIVE ME A WAY TO DO IT. Get your lawyers and your licensing and your greed in check and then people won’t be forced to steal music from the Internet.

Let me tell you something:  music is a very personal thing.  When a song hits you, it hits you hard and you will do anything to get it just so you can listen to it anytime you want, over and over again.  Some music is just like that – you simply must have it.  It’s innate.  I’ll say it one more time.  I WOULD GLADLY PAY FOR THE MUSIC I WANT IF YOU GIVE ME A WAY TO DO IT.  And I believe most people out there feel the same way. 

By the way, if you are interested in the song I was trying to find, here it is.  The dance edit called “Alias Edit” is fantastic, as is the rest of the CD.  If you are in the US, good luck.  Maybe I should send it out to anyone who want it.

Is that American Idol show still using up precious airwaves?


Is that show still on?  Does anybody watch it? 

I have not watched American Idol once all season.  Well, that’s not 100% true.  I accidentally channel surfed onto it a few times and couldn’t hit the MUTE button fast enough.  So I was forced to listen to a few milliseconds of “singing”.  And if you were standing here, as much as I HATE “aire quotes” – I would definitely raise my fingers and do air quotes when I said the word “singing”. 

NOBODY ON THIS YEAR’S AMERICAN IDOL ANY TALENT!.

Idol is supposed to be a talent show.  Barring that, and most of time the show is barring that, it is a popularity contest.  Well, without any real talent and without one single contestant on the show to give a shit about, why watch?

Last season, when Kris Allen won the crown, and Adam Lambert queened in second (is queened a verb?), I knew early on, when they picked the final 12 (or 13 as it turned out that season) that there was a lot of talent in the room, I knew Kris Allen would win, and I knew he would win because he can sing, and because he was as cute as a button!  Are buttons actually cute?  I need to stop speaking in bad idioms.

Lambert wasn’t going to win; he’s too gay.  I’m gay and he’s too gay for me.  I don’t want to watch him grab his own crotch or anyone else’s. And I don’t want to watch someone else grab his.  And why does every song Lambert sings sound the same.  This is how I describe every Lambert song:

“wait for it…..wait for it…..wait for it……THERE he’s screaming now, the song is almost done”.

So apparently American Idol is still on television – who knew.  I’m going to suggest that instead of watching this year’s finale, because who cares, really, that you watch “Modern Family” on HULU.COM.  It’s probably the best comedy on TV right now.  Funny as hell, not dirty or crude, just real, character driven, funny-line-deliverying comedy.

I recently sent a link to a friend that led her  to the Modern Family section on HULU.  She’s a bit “born again” shall we say, and anything even remotely off-color offends her (although I can’t argue with the fact that Miley Cyrus offends her).   She watched it last night and LOVED it.  We rehashed it this morning when she got to work.  Modern Family is truly one of those shows that you can’t help but talk about the next day, at work, or with your friends.  It’s that good.

Modern Family has everything that American Idol doesn’t have.  Talent, timing, personality, good material,  humor without bad taste, and a “Randy Jackson Free Zone”.  OK I made that last part up.

I mean it – Idol is passé.  It’s so last decade.

Adam Lambert at the American Music Awards SUCKED, literally and figuratively


With all the hype worthy of a White Bronco chase, Adam Lambert’s performance at the American Music Awards last night was saved until the end, and when I say “end” in mean the bitter end.  And when I say “bitter end” I mean right after the last award was given out and right before the credits.  Since when does a nobody like Adam Lambert have the clout to close a show.  Was it because his performance was supposed to be THAT good?  Or was it because the producers were giving the viewing public the option to turn off the TV or change channels because the official awards portion of the show was done.  I am assuming it’s the latter.

From the leather and chains, to Lambert pushing and pulling scantily clad dancer boys around the stage with dog collars, to Lambert literally pushing one male dancer’s face into his crotch by grabbing the back of the dancer’s head as he thrusts his hips into the dancer’s face (pew!) to Lambert deep tounge-kissing the male drummer, (or was it a female – let’s go with she-male because I have no idea), the “performance” was like the bad sex-like shows I used to see in New York’s gay night clubs.  As a gay man I watched Adam Lambert with my hand over my face; fingers splayed out so I could “sort-of” see what was going on and then wince in pain, snapping my eyes shut like an oyster with newly found grain of sand. 

Not only was Lambert disgusting, he has absolutely, (and I mean none, nada, nope, nothing, no way) no sexual appeal whatsoever.  He looked uncomfortable, he acted like he was uncomfortable, and when the screaming crowd in the auditorium stopped “raising the roof” and clapping and cheering about 30 seconds in to his “performance”, even Lambert knew it was all over.

Speaking of screaming, with his usual “flare”, Adam Lambert robotically got through the song so he could get to the parts where he could scream like a hyena caught in a bear trap.  He’s not a singer, he’s a screamer (in more ways than one).  You can tell by watching him.  He was so bored with the regular parts of the song and was literally chomping at the bit to get to the “screamy parts”.  Did you hear that final note?  Or was it notes?  Even he didn’t know where to park that thing.  That last note was like watching grandpa trying to parallel-park a Winnebago.  He’s in the general area, but you have no idea where it’s going to finally land.  And when he lands it, it isn’t at all where it should be.

God, it was awful.  I read somewhere that Adam Lambert is being shoved down our throats by the media.  Well, he is being shoved down someone’s throat;  just ask the male dancer on stage last night.  I wanted Adam  to do well.  I wanted to like him.  I wanted to like his performance.  But I just can’t.  As an openly gay man who has no problem with objectifying  men, I think Adam Lambert is an abomination.  The sad part is, he’s got some raw talent there.  If he could just tap into it, we’d all be better off. 

Meanwhile the winner of American Idol, Kris Allen, was “allowed” to stand on stage for about 6 seconds to introduce somebody, or something, or some award.  I don’t even remember.  Kris Allen WON Idol, and he can sing.  But Kris Allen hasn’t been given the media attention that Lambert has gotten ever since Lambert “Yup, I’m gay” cover story.  Who cares?  Like it was a newsflash anyway.  It would have been WAY more surprising if he said, “Yes, I”m hetero” then I would have run out and bought that magazine, all the while screaming “WHAT?????????????”

One more thing:  Whitney Houston sucked, too.  She may have a new lease on life, but mabye she should have sub-let.

An open letter to Kris Allen


Dear Kris:

I know.  Who cares what I think.  But I wanted to congratulate you on winning American Idol.  The look on your face when you won was priceless.  And how great it must be to have a friend like Adam Lambert close by who was obviously and genuinely happy for you.

I first noticed you when I checked in on American Idol right before the time of the final 13.  I picked you as the winner back then.  I don’t know exactly what it was.  For the first time this year, I actually went to iTunes and downloaded American Idol music and it was yours that I downloaded.  I actually have “Falling Slowly” and “To make you feel by love” on a CD in my car right now and play it quite often.  I must admit, as a gay man, I thought you were adorable.  Your kind and gentle soul was evident even through your shyness.  I often thought you were the kind of guy I could take home to my family and they would love you too.  So I have to be honest and say that I totally have a crush on you.  But why wouldn’t I.  Or anyone else for that matter.

That’s part of the package, you know.  Both women and gay men will think you are adorable and be vocal about it.  Speaking for myself, I would never cross the line and maul you if I saw you in person.  But you sort of have to get used to that kind of attention whether or not it is welcomed.  Gay men are fans too.

You have been blessed with beauty and grace.  You have been blessed with talent.  And most of all you have been blessed with a warm and loving family.  I envy the bear hug you got from your father on your visit home.  That is something that I never had from either parent, even though I grew up having both parents. My father died when I was 19 years old, before I was officially “out”.  As a result I have so many unanswered questions about whether or not my father actually loved me.  You don’t have to walk through life with those doubts so I hope you feel lucky and blessed.

Maybe you’re not shy; maybe you’re just humble.  Humility is an honorable trait to have.  You are inspiring to many in the way you pushed through that “thing” whether it be shyness or humility, to become an artist comfortable on stage in his own skin.  Again, that’s another thing about which I envy you.  I can barely walk into a crowded room, even if it’s just family, without suffering from severe self-confidence issues.

Back to the music.  As emotional a person as I am, it takes a lot for a song or piece of music to get to me.  In the words of “To make  you feel my love” you sang “I could offer you a warm embrace, to make you feel my love”.  That song, and the story it tells about giving of yourself and your unconditional love to another human being, in the way you sang it with just honesty, brought me to tears.  It still does when I listen to it.  And when I do listen to it I picture you singing it.  To me, that is the difference between you and Adam Lambert and the reason why you won American Idol.  It’s not that Adam is not a good looking guy.  But let’s face it, the world of music is based upon love songs.  It’s your gentle manner, your honest belief that love is so important, that raises the bar on the music you choose to interpret.

I’m going to tell you the same thing I told Adam in the open letter I wrote to him.  If you can, meaning if the almighty American Idol machine will let you, now is the time to think about what you want to do musically.  If you are going to experiment and collaborate, do it now while the iron is hot.  I think too many American Idol winners get pegged early on as “this” or “that”.  Prove them wrong.  Spread your wings a bit.  Do a duet with Josh Groban or Celine Dion.  That superstar pop-star thing may be out of your comfort zone.  But if you try stuff like that, we’ll be behind you.  You can’t sing “No Boundaries” for the next year and expect to have a career at the end.  In my opinion, you shouldn’t sing that song at all, but you are contractually obligated.  I only hope you can convince someone to let you do it your way.

I read on line, just today, the flurry of opinions regarding who won and why.  Some tried to bring everything but the kitchen sink into the conversation.  Religion, politics, homophobia, Red States versus Blue States, the Christian vote.  Believe me, none of that matters.   I think you know that.  You can tell a lot about what is going on in American culture by observing the gay community.  I read many stories and comment on blogs from gay men who voted for you.  They did not vote AGAINST Adam.  They voted FOR you.  One might think just the opposite would have happened.  I don’t know for sure if Adam is gay, but he’s certainly “gay enough” to have attracted the gay vote.  But gay men are usually well educated.  For me, it was your introspective manner and your desire to tell us who you are through your music that was so honest.  And that, my friend, is something that the gay community responds to very much.  Honesty.  It doesn’t matter if we agree about politics, religion, art, nature, sex, love, God, or anything else.  Real gay men respect those that are true to themselves.

I wish you all the best and look forward to seeing what directions you take, musically speaking.  I’ll always have a little crush on you.  And I will always get just a little emotional when I hear you sing “I could offer you a warm embrase to make you feel my love”.

An open letter to Adam Lambert


Dear Adam:

As the runner up in this years American Idol, you should first and foremost be congratulated.  Either you or Kris could have easily taken home the platinum microphone trophy this year and nobody knew how it would turn out.  You are a consummate performer, bold and self-confident, and from what I have read, you are correct: it doesn’t matter if you are first or second in this thing, your will both go far and do great things musically.

I have all the markings of an Adam Lambert supporter.  I’m gay, not religious and liberal.  I have very “in your face” attitudes and opinions that exist merely to get people to think about thing’s, or rather think about life and people, differently.  I want everyone to get the benefit of the doubt and I want everyone to be so much less judgmental than they naturally are.  I should have, by all counts, voted for you and backed you up.

When it came down to the final four this season, I cast a vote for the second time since the show’s inception  Last year for the finale I voted for David Cook.  From the moment he sang his rendition of “Billy Jean” I knew he was brilliant.  For this year’s final four I voted for you and Kris Allen.  At that point in the competition I knew that you and Kris should be in the finals, that was my opinion.  The week of the final three, I only voted for Kris because the “vibe” of the show seemed to already have decided that Danny and you should be the finalists.  I didn’t agree.  The other thing I did for the first time this year was download American Idol songs from iTunes.  I downloaded your rendition of “If I Can’t Have You” and then several songs by Kris.  I don’t know if it’s just me but gay men typically don’t care too much for Zeppelin, KISS, or even Queen for that matter.  So that genre is lost on me.  While I enjoy listening to your voice, which is beautiful and has that “ringing” you hear when a note is sung just perfectly, I don’t enjoy the screaming so much. 

I read some comments you said after last night’s finale.  I hope you were quoted correctly so that I can respond to them correctly.  From what I read, you want to move on, obviously, collaborate, and push the boundaries a bit; get people to open their minds a bit.  I don’t know what that means to you.  There aren’t too many places in music that haven’t been tested.  So it leads me to believe that you may venture into some “gender-bending, in-your-face, I am what I am and what about it” kind of music.  Again it is difficult to understand exactly what you mean.

My suggestion is to be as creative as possible and don’t try and push anything in anybody’s face.  Nobody likes to be “convinced” that they should like something.  Nor do they enjoy being told to think or re-think a certain way.

You seem like a very intelligent, out-going, thoughtful, and confident man.  You were gracious as a performer and gracious as a runner up. I am sure that Kris appreciated that just as much as America did.  What I wish for both you and Kris Allen (because it really doesn’t matter which order you landed in the competition) is that you grow and learn musically so that you both become an American Icon rather than and Idol.

I voted for Kris Allen as the winner mostly because of the way he shyly wears his heart on his sleeve.  It was almost unfair to make us choose from two artists who are so completely different.  It’s the apples and oranges all over again.  I’ve seen and read lots about the Idol finale.  People have tried to bring religion, and politics, and homophobia, and the church, and Christian-phobia into this national debate over who won and who should have won.  I don’t believe any of it.  This is about something that is so personal to each and every one of us; the music we like.  Discussing music is like discussing art, or politics, or religion, or sex.  It is almost too personal to make comparisons and judgments.  But American Idol forces us to make that choice.  Kris Allen has a certain sweetness that’s not sticky, big wide eyes when he sings but those eyes are looking into his own soul.  He is one of those old souls in a young body.  He has a way of interpreting a song that some call boring but I call unique.  He sings about love in ways only men twice his age could do.

For the next little while, they way I understand it, both you and Kris are under the thumb of American Idol, but because you are not THE American Idol, you probably have more room to breath and be creative.  Please don’t try and speak for the gay community, or the liberal community in your music.  As a gay man I feel that I don’t need another gay voice.  I don’t want to be singled out, I want to be integrated.  So musically, I hope you truly speak for yourself, from your heart, through your music.  I want you to be relevant, not reviled.

Only a confident and generous man could give Kris Allen the support and friendship that you did regardless of who was going to win.   You are both gentle men. But I think your burden is greater going forward.  Kris Allen is liked by many, and to some for rather strange reasons.  He is more shy than you and right now the public will expect him to be predictable and safe, musically speaking.  That’s his burden.  Yours is the opposite.  You will be expected to be avante garde and edgy. 

I have no credentials to give you advice but I wanted to let you know that you found your voice (both literally and figuratively); now you need to find your puspose.  What message will you send through your music.  Stay away from duets.  Your voice is too powerful for that.  So you would end up sounding too overpowering.  Even if you found someone with an equally strong voice; that coupling would end up sounding like a screaming match.  And all the while, start thinking about what you are projecting to the world.  You can get away with eye-liner and finger nail polish now, but what will you evolve into as you grow.  It’s time to start that evolution.  Strike while the iron is hot.  You have some incredible gifts.  The world is much more likely to grow with you if you start now.

I wish you all the best and will be rooting for you.

I wish you all the bet and look forward to what you have to offer.

Allen and Lambert play Donnie and Marie – Allen wins by a landslide


First, thank god American Idol is over.

I don’t recall every being so disgusted with a television show.  Let me start by saying I am not a true American Idol fan.  I got involved this year, I think, because of absolute and utter boredom with the rest of television.  But when I saw Kris Allen early on before the final 13, I knew he was a winner.  So I kept tabs on him.

The producers and judges of American Idol should be ashamed of themselves.  Last night’s finale results show was a nightmare.  It was like a bad variety show.  The producers forced Kris and Adam to perform in an endless parade of solos and duets and it all seemed like “a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll”.  Adam, of course, played the part of Marie in drag.  It was very “Shakespeare” circa 1570 when women weren’t allowed to be actors so they slapped makeup and a dress on a man and had him play the part.

From the final performances on Tuesday the judges and producers all but picked Adam as the winner.  Wednesday night’s finale had music that was all geared toward Adam’s strengths – screaming.  Adam is nothing more than a theater queen (not that there’s anything wrong with that).  In fact, I feel badly for him.  He has a great voice but nobody is telling him how to use it.   You can see the look on his face in every song he sings.  He’s just waiting for that moment in the song where he can scream his bloody head off.    He’s been performing on stage since he was ten years old.  There may be some great part in the future for him, like maybe the revival of “Rocky Horror” on Broadway.  I mean, he’s already got his own costumes and make-up that he wears daily so the budget could be slashed to pieces.

So the producers had Kris and Adam singing a duet of “We are the Champions” by Queen (how appropriate) so that Adam could scream his way over and above Kris’s voice.  But for those paying attention, Kris held his own.  The producers went so far as to turn Adam’s microphone up and Kris’s microphone down so that even when Adam wasn’t screaming you could barely hear what Kris was singing.  But if you really listened, he was belting it out the best he could even in the harshest of conditions.

The manipulation by the producers continued beginning with the end of Tuesday night’s show when Ryan Seacrest told the television audience to extend the end time of the show if they were recording it.  They planned to go over.  Low and behold on the built in cable schedule that is part of my digital cable system, American Idol was scheduled from 8:00 pm to 10:07 pm.  These online cable schedules are done several days (usually a week)  in advance.  Seven minutes over schedule.  They planned to go seven minutes over.  So they have what normally would be a two hour show to announce the winner of a singing contest.  The actually “announcing” or “anointing” takes about 30 seconds.  And they plan to go over???.  It sounds to me as if when they originally planned all of this out, they pegged Adam Lambert as the winner.  Did they originally intend to have Adam screaming for the last seven minutes?

When the announcement was finally made, and thank god when the finally did it they didn’t drag it out and further once the two contestants stood under the “dimmed lights”, Kris was the winner.  Ryan Seacrest immediately called him the dark horse who pulled off a miracle.  Nice, huh?  I usually think Seacrest is OK and give him the benefit of the doubt, but that was just bad taste.  Kris had almost no reaction.  And rightly so.  He knew the judges and producers had already planned on Lambert winning.  So he had nothing left inside.  By this point, he was physically and mentally exhausted and probably was just hoping to get some semblance of normalcy back in his life.

If you watched the very last seconds of the show, Kris was seen hugging his wife.  It was quick and the camera pulled away almost as soon as it got the shot.  But Kris wrapped his arms around the love of  his live and we got to see him, for only a split second before we were distracted to something else, Kris weeping as he buried his face into the neck of his wife.  He had finally won, it was finally over, and this mild-mannered, kind, gentle, young, old soul could move on to the next phase of American Idiot.  They will parade him around; make him perform stuff he doesn’t want to perform, and squeak every penny out of him that they can, while he, in turn, will receive comparatively, nothing.  His ass, and voice, belongs to Idol for the next 12 months.

And speaking of music he doesn’t want to sing, what is up with that awful, horrible song supposedly written by Kara DioGuardi called “No Boundaries”.  If by that she means she and the producers have no boundaries, then yes, I agree.  How can you have the judge of singing contest write a song that the performers must sing and be judged on in the finals.  The song was so bad I don’t think anybody could have sung it well.  It’s crap.  But it was certainly geared more towards Adam Lambert.

Kara “Please think I’m relevant” DioGuardi needs to go.  She has offered absolutely nothing to the show, the judging, or the commentary.  She is almost as insignificant and irrelevant as Paula Abdul.  At least Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell are in the music industry and have been for a long time.  They know talent.  They know what works and what doesn’t.  And while they don’t always agree with each other, Randy and Simon are at least believable.

So was Kris Allen really the underdog?  Not in my mind.  I think about it this way: of the two finalists which one could I listen to for more than 5 minutes without wanting to stab my own eardrums.  That would be Kris.  I went to iTunes and downloaded several of Kris’s song and burned them to CD for use in my car.  Kris’s songs are very easy to listen to and he has great voice, a great sound, a great quality, and a great interpretation of the music.  All without gimmicks.  Adam Lambert, on the other hand, can’t get through a song without screaming.  Who could listen to an entire CD of Lambert screaming.  If the time comes, that should be the name of his debut album of Broadway show tunes – “Lambert Screaming Broadway”.  Adam is touted as a rocker.  And while his voice lends itself to that kind of music, and while Adam tries to play the part of a 70’s “glam” rocker, I don’t think you can call someone whose entire musical background stems from local musical theater a “rocker”.

Further, Kris Allen can play, among other things, the piano and the guitar.  He can also write his own songs.  Adam Lambert can only sing what other people wrote. He can’t play it, he can’t write it.  So what is an American Idol?

I picked Kris Allen out of the pack early on.  I’m NOT saying I have some gift, believe me.  I picked him out of that pack because he was adorable.  So cute, so sexy.  And what red-blooded American gay male wouldn’t want to watch Kris Allen sing love songs to him through a high definition 47 inch flat screen.  I’m on fool.  Adam Lambert may be “interesting” but I wouldn’t want to take him home to my mother.

What started as a little celebrity crush back in January or February morphed into an honest respect for this quiet and shy old soul in a 23 year old artist’s body (and a hot body at that).  No controversy, no skeletons in the closet, and a real, honest, good relationship with a family that respects and supports him.  When we saw Kris’s father well up with pure joy and pride as he welcomed his son home during a brief break from Idol, we saw a glimpse of who Kris Allen was, how he was raised, and how this somewhat introverted young kid was growing into a real man through his music.

I do wish Adam Lambert all the best, I truly do.  I hope he can get some good advice and follow it.  Do more songs like “If I can’t have you” that showcased his true vocal talent without the gimmicks.  I hope he eases away from his signature screaming and learns to express himself musically and vocally without the hype. That would indeed make him a true American icon, as opposed to an idol.

For Kris Allen, what can I say but Congratulations.  You are a true American icon.  I believed in my gut that you could do it. 

I believe Kris found himself very much outside his comfort zone.  But he found a way to speak to the audience without losing who he was and without selling out.  Kris Allen was never a dark horse.  And if American Idol were to ever release actual vote totals, we might actually be able to prove it.

“America’s got (to get) Talent”


The American TV show called “America’s got Talent” is a knock off of the original British hit show “Britain’s got Talent”.  While I’m not a huge Simon Cowell fan, he is a judge and producer on “Britain’s got Talent”, and he is much kinder on the British version of “Talent” than he is on “American Idol”.  With BGT and Idol are both in production and live right now, Simon Cowell is flying back and forth from LA to London. BGT is on Sunday night’s in the UK, and Idol is on Tuesday and Wednesday here in the U.S.

That’s just some backgroun.  I really don’t think Simon is the rude and arrogant prick that he pretends to be.  Instead I think he’s smart about singing talent and knows what he’s talking about. 

The real problem, however, is that America and the UK, however similar, are nothing alike when it comes to the arts.  And I truly wish that American’s would educate themselves a bit and learn how to recognize true talent.

On BGT last year, it was Paul Potts who surprised the world when he sang “Nessun Dorma”.  What the HELL is that? you might say.  Let me move one.  This year on BGT so far, it has been Susan Boyle singing “I Dreamed a Dream”.  What the HELL is that? you might say.  I’ll got on once more.  And my final example on BGT is Andrew Johnson, a 13 year old boy who sang Pie Jesu.  Yeah, I know.  What the HELL is that?

And therin lies the problem with Americans.  I would venture to guess that 90% of us could not explain all three of the songs above.

First, Nessun Dorma is from an Opera (thereby accounting for the dismissal of 95% of America right there) called “Turandot” by a composer named Puccini.  It is one of the most famous songs every recorded and has been recorded by literally hundred of singers.  Second is “I dreamed a dream”.  Some may recognize it, barely.  But how many Americans know that it is from “Les Miserbles”, the 1980 muscial based on Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel about the French Revolution.  Again, “I dreamed” is one of the most famous and recorded songs in the world, but not in America.  And finally “Pie Jesu”; admittedly less well known.  It is from Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Requiem” and made famous by Sarah Brightman (did I just stump you American’s again).

So here we have three of the most famous songs every recorded and they don’t fall into the Pop, Rock, R&B, or Country genres so nobody here in America knows what the hell they are.  And that’s why we get stuck with people like Rubben Studdard and Taylor Hicks who win “American Idol”.

In Britain it is know uncommon for songs from shows in the West End (comparable to our Broadway) to be hit songs on the radio as they are released.  In other words when Les Miserables played in the West End in 1980, the song “I dreamed a dream” was a hit on the radio, the top 40, because the cast album was recorded and that song was released as a single.  Even in America up to and incuding the 1960’s, pop music on the radio came from Broadway.  That is how people like Barbra Streisand got her start. It was Broadway to the Tonight Show or Ed Sullivan, and then BOOM, catapulted into stardom.

Another thing happened that was quite telling.  If any of you say the clip of Susan Boyle singing “I dreamed a dreamed” there were a few minutes when Simon Cowell was talking to her before she sang.  He asked her who should wanted to be as famous as and she said “Well, Elaine Paige, of course”.  I could hear the American collective eye brows raise and their head cocking to one side thinking “who the hell is Elaine Paige?”.  In the UK and in many other part of the world, Elaine Paige is one of the most well-knows singers there is.  She was the first at everything.  The first Evita, the first Norma Desmond in “Sunset Boulevard”, she was the first to star in a musical playing the life of Edith Piaf.  She is truly one of the world’s great talents.  And Susan Boyle want to be as famous as Elaine Page is.  Unfortunatley, Susan probably doesn’t realize that America doesn’t know who Elaine Paige is.  I dare you to find an album of hers in any music store, online or otherwise.  I have two of her albums; but I bought them in 2000 when I went to London for a quick long weekend.

I guess my point is is that I envy Britain.  Not only do they have talent that spans the great divides of culture and genre but they truly appreciate it; all of it.  I someone where to audition on “American Idol” with Pie Jesu, or perform on a must win week a rendition of “I dreamed a dream”, they would be the laughing stock and would probably get voted off.  My fellow American’s I think it is time to open your minds and hearts and ears and listen to real talent.  The funny thing is that if you truly want to grade or compare talent, have a group of individual singers each try and sing “I dreamed a dream” and at the end, you’ll know which one is the winner, no questions asked.