Every year it amazes us how some American Idol contestants seem to have it all together before they ever try out for the show, while others are totally clueless. Do some of these people not realize that as a performer, identity and image is everything? Especially in the digital age, you have to think about who you are presenting to the world every single minute if you ever want to be the next music superstar.
As we were putting together our grand gallery of American Idol 2014 Hollywood Week contestants for season 13, we started compiling a top 10 list in our heads of “do’s and don’ts” for future contestants for our own amusement. And now we share it with you!
1. DO Google your name! BEFORE you ever start making any promotional materials for yourself, like your website, your Facebook fan page, your YouTube channel, etc. etc. etc. Is your name generic? Make a stage name because no one will EVER find you. Is your name difficult or impossible to spell right when you hear it? Change it because again, no one will EVER find you. And please, don’t use a whole bunch of double letters and crazy vowel combinations either.
2. DO build yourself an identity! Anyone can make a Facebook account and Twitter account. Most 10 year olds have cell phones and can post photos to Instagram, videos to Vine and YouTube, and join the social media world in force. If you are underage, work with your parents to establish these things under the name you are going to use as a singer/musician from here on out and for your American Idol audition. Remember at all times in your posts, photos, videos, etc. that you are selling an image, and think about what image it is you want to present to the world.
Some contestants this year don’t even have a Twitter account to interact with fans. Or they have a locked away Facebook page and that’s it. Many Hollywood Week contestants don’t have any kind of music out there on YouTube or wherever for people to listen to except their audition, and maybe not even that if FOX didn’t show it. How can we be your cheerleaders and fans if we have no way to interact with you and support you? Plus, it makes you look WAY more professional and serious if you have all these things built up before you go on the show. Here’s an example of a girl who is doing it right:
Another underage contestant we found has an alternate Twitter account under a pseudonym with a photo of her smoking a bong on it. Seriously girl? We will find it, and some press outlets won’t be as nice as us. Do everything (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc.) under your real name, your full name (not some silly nickname or handle), and keep it clean.
3. DON’T try to escape your past! If you already have established a strong name and identity for yourself out there, DON’T go changing it now. Embrace and grow from your roots, good or bad. We have one American Idol 2014 contestant (Marrialle Sellars, formerly known as Erica Bell) who had a robust online presence under a different name before going on the show, including a website, Facebook fan page, Twitter account, YouTube channel, etc. Then, for some reason, she ups and changes her name to something with a whole bunch of double letters and an ambiguously spelled last name that even American Idol producers have gotten wrong twice.
Plus, changing your name after you have already established yourself as a musician under a former identity, makes it seem like you have something to hide. That’s never a good thing.
4. Do NOT let your mom/dad/aunt/grandma run your life! Please don’t let your parents/relatives make all your promotional materials for your hopeful singing career under their name. It makes you look like a baby. Tell mom to have the wisdom to make your YouTube channel, Facebook page, Twitter account, etc. under your name, not hers, and keep her hands away from the baby pictures on your website or Facebook page!
5. Do NOT bring said mom/dad/aunt/grandma into your American Idol audition! Unless, of course, you have to because producers make you. Leave them at home or at least back in the lobby to wait for you to come out, and don’t talk about how you still live at home in your mom’s basement or can’t live without daddy paying all your bills. Even if there is a cute story involved (or a sappy sob story), just try not to go there. If you talk about your parents, they may end up getting more screen time than you do. It makes you look immature. Or it makes them look like scary stage parents. Stand on your own two feet and be independent.
6. DO NOT wear that. Seriously. That outfit you think makes your butt look hot, that glittery skirt that is up to your crotch, that shirt that is every color of the rainbow, the cheerleader outfit, the bikini, the stupid costume… STOP it. Ask ten people you do NOT know what they think of your outfit and give them $10 to be honest. Because you probably look like a clown but your friends will lie to you. You don’t want your first impression in front of the judges or America to be looking like a fool, even if your voice is KILLER. Unless you are Steven Tyler, then you can wear any damn thing you like.
7. Do NOT sing that! Has the song you are singing been done on American Idol ten million times? Is the song you are singing by a former American Idol contestant or current/past judge? Does the song have a low, boring lead up that sound like you are talking in a monotone with one really good high bit that you think shows off your voice? Is the song really fast with a lot of lyrics shoved together? Is it really slow and drawn out? Then don’t do it! Unless you are an astonishing singer, these are really the kinds of songs you should skip right over when making your audition choice.
8. DO sing that! If you have a good original song that you have tested out, like on YouTube, to see that it really doesn’t suck… go for it! The judges like originality and so do the viewers. It shows you have brains and creativity as well as a great voice. Make sure it is a GOOD song though, and not just your brain telling you it is. Also, don’t be afraid of indie music, or less popular songs by popular artists. If you have NOT heard it before on American Idol, it’s probably a great song to do!
9. Do NOT act like a d*ck. Even if you think the cameras are not watching, do NOT engage in drama, yelling, cursing, name-calling, diva behavior, or being an insufferable jerk to other contestants. The Hollywood Week rounds are especially difficult for contestants to get through without committing one of these crimes. Take a deep breath, smile, and pretend that you are standing on stage in front of thousands of people watching your every move and deciding if you will EVER reach your dreams. Because that is exactly what you are doing!
10. Do NOT give up. Ever. Remember that some previous winners have auditioned multiple times for multiple reality TV shows over and over. If you want it, you won’t quit. Every rejection should come with a smile and a promise to learn from it and do better, not cursing and wailing that the judges are idiots not to recognize your brilliance. That’s how a real winner acts.