The minute we created singing contests we started to miss the point of the creative arts. It’s not about trying to be better than everyone else, when you do that then you start to compare yourself to others and focus on what they have that you don’t. Yet it’s your unique qualities, indeed your differences that are what will make you stand out in the world, not your similarities.
It’s a cynical ploy on behalf of the TV producers, a self fulfilling sales prophecy. We get sucked into endless weeks of voting for the ‘best’ (now there’s a word) and at the end they get a new artist to market that generates lots of sales for them. It doesn’t always work, the winners of some of the X Factor and Pop Idol are now selling insurance - they were also part of the plan to use everyone to sell more music.
They often say that parents should never have a favourite child, one of my friends jokes that whenever his kids tell him that he replies ‘I don’t have a favourite child, I don’t like any of you!’ Joking apart, asking us to make distinctions about who is best in the creative arts is just as crass. It’s something we do as kids, it gets worse as teenagers, when I was in my mid to late teens my entire life was The Police. My bedroom was wall-to-wall posters, I had every record they had made, every special edition, I went to every concert - as far as I was concerned they were the best band in the world.
Then I grew up and realised that they were one of many bands who could be referred to as the world class. I grew up and started to understand that people have differing tastes - what I like you might hate and vice-versa.
Sometimes people look at me in horror when I declare that I don’t like the Beatles much - in fact I prefer the Rolling Stones. Especially my American friends, some of whom have included them as part of our Royal Family or sainted them, but again it’s about taste. What I do know and appreciate is that The Beatles were the best at being themselves, they worked hard to write amazing songs and producing great tracks. They never tried to be The Rolling Stones and vice-versa, intentional or otherwise it was a smart move.
I want to be clear, I’m not sugggesting that everyone has the potential to be a singer or a musician, not everyone has creative talent. But for those lucky enough to have a gift for singing, playing, arranging, scoring, composing, engineering, producing or mixing, then quit comparing yourself to others, or trying to be the next (fill in the name), sorry that job is already taken. The job you have is to be a better you.
The pursuit of excellence is a life-long task and yes we will find people on the journey who inspire us or motivate us, but in the final analysis forget trying to be like everyone else - work hard at being a better you.