Longevity

I saw Paul Stanley in the audience of "American Idol".

What can I say, Felice is addicted, I heard the rumble from afar and when I went to retrieve her from the bedroom, I got hooked by the show too. I guess it’s just instinct, we’re all judges, we want to evaluate talent…and just maybe we want to be a member of the club. "American Idol" has the highest ratings of any weekly series, it’s the most talked about show, its stars go on to have hit records…

Well, not so much anymore. Sure, Kelly Clarkson had some hits, but she was the first. And "Since U Been Gone" was a product of the Max Martin machine. Carrie Underwood is a star in the country world, she’s the beneficiary of the best material in Nash Vegas…

Wait a minute here… Is this two-dimensional stardom, are these performers no more than cardboard?

The classic rockers were built on their own material. There were no song doctors. It was directly from their heart to yours. And this has delivered audiences in some cases forty years after their debut. If you’re just singing someone else’s song, you’re driving the BMW. Someone else can get inside and take the wheel instantly. Which is what happens in the evanescent pop world. Everybody today may not be a one hit wonder, but few have more than two or three hit tracks, and almost none of these acts can do respectable live business.

And we learned that TV exposure shortens careers. That was the lesson of MTV. If you’re on, you’re in everybody’s household for a brief window, then you’re discarded like a candy wrapper, the chocolate having been savored for an instant and then forgotten.

And what about the runners-up?

Sure, Daughtry has had hits. Interesting that he’s a rocker, when so many of the winners are diva-wannabes… But can you name the other contestants who almost won? How about some of those who DID win, like Fantasia and Ruben Studdard?

It’s a house of cards. A TV show. And TV is the number one mass medium in the history of the world. It can sell anything. Just ask Procter & Gamble. But even TV is faltering, in this permission marketing, multi-channel, Internet world. In other words, are we just mesmerized that ANYTHING can get this many eyeballs, this much traction in today’s diverse cultural landscape?

It’s not like these are artists. Hell, Carly Hennessy/Smithson already failed once. These are voices, doing the best karaoke job of all time. And in many cases, not that good.

Carly Smithson murdered "Superstar" on Tuesday night. I remember when I heard the original on the radio in the spring of 1970, before Webber and Rice went all Broadway on us, when they still employed rock singers and had credibility. The track was joyous, infectious. Carly evidenced none of these attractions. There was no CONTEXT!

Simon is a star. You just wait to hear what he says. Paula rivets you because you’re waiting to see if she implodes on camera. Randy is sacrificing what credibility he had for a paycheck.

But it’s not like Paula and Randy can have any success off this show. No one cares. It’s just about the show.

Simon’s smart enough to know it’s not about his fame, it’s about the dough. That TV delivers momentary record sales, that he can profit from.

Is this the game you’re in? Earning a golden ticket to instant fame that will be taken away from you on your way to the 7-11, transforming you from a customer to an employee?

If you want to have a long career, write your own material. Be different, not the same. And don’t go on television, it will shorten your tenure.

If you can’t write, if you’ve got nothing to say, try out for "American Idol". You might get a shot at momentary fame, but that’s all it is, momentary.

As for Mr. Stanley… The people watching are not KISS fans, this is not bringing in dollars to your enterprise. People lose sight of the truth. The truth is that "American Idol" has got nothing to do with rock and roll, nothing to do with careers. Anybody can get on television, haven’t you watched "Survivor", or MTV or VH1? The PROGRAM is the star, not the talent. Never forget this.

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