‘Idiosyncratic’ appeal sidetracks talent searchBy Nestor U. Torre
Philippine Daily Inquirer
LAST July 29, “X-Factor Philippines” announced its finalists, three each in four categories—and the jurors’ verdict was greeted with occasionally perplexed and even muted yelps in our home. Clearly, there exists a wide disconnect between what the four judges believe to be the potentially winning combination of performing attributes, and some viewers’ point of view.
Since they are the official arbiters, we must bow before their obviously superior knowledge and experience. But, we feel we still need to get these hopefully relevant points across, if it’s OK with them:
First observation: All of the official jurors are superior singers in their own right. Indeed, their outstanding singing ability has been a major reason why they’re singing stars to this day. Why then did they pick some finalists who didn’t sing well, and expect them to have a good chance of ending up as singing stars in their own right?
“X-Factor” is, above all else, a search for outstanding singers. In its US version, all of the finalists have been exceptional vocalists. Why then does the local edition occasionally favor relatively mediocre singers? Obviously, the local jurors are looking for “something else,” like one finalist’s “exuberance” and “great spirit,” and another’s “idiosyncratic” appearance and “booming” vocal delivery. Perhaps they feel that these “Everyman” qualities will endear the finalists with the similarly imperfect viewing and listening public? If so, we would like to make the follow-up observation that such weirdly idiosyncratic appeal has in the past been proven to be of rather brief duration.
Second point: Aside from being standout singers, most of the official jurors are also easy on the eyes. In the Philippine context, good looks are a key factor in assuring a new singer’s success, and the jurors themselves have benefited from this reality. Why then do they load the dice against some of their chosen finalists by selecting talents whose looks are “idiosyncratic,” as well?
Granted, some strange-looking singers have become stars on the local show biz scene, but they are in the distinct minority. Why then do many of the jurors’ chosen finalists not look as good as aspiring stars ought to? Again, why load the dice against their chances to succeed?
Of course, the jurors may retort that this is conventional thinking, that they’re thinking out of the box, and thus their bets will stand out because they’re “refreshingly or interestingly different.”
OK, but we would like to further point out that the traditional “great singing ability and looks” template didn’t get enshrined as an industry standard for success just by chance.
In fact, there’s an inherent logic and inevitability to them, because they affirm the inspirational effect and impact that many members of the local audience want to get from the musical entertainment they chose to watch and listen to.
If Martin, Gary, Charice and Pilita didn’t sing as well as they did at the start of their careers, would they have become the big stars they are today? Why then do they expect the lesser singers they’ve chosen as finalists to do as well? Just asking.
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