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Monday, January 30, 2023


Reality singing shows fall flat in depicting the hard work required to be a professional singer

David Delgado//The Daily Cougar

David Delgado//The Daily Cougar

Reality singing shows such as The Voice or American Idol suggest that certain people are born with some special talent, and therefore deserve to become rich and famous. The idea that people can just sing a few songs and have their lives changed is appealing to viewers, because maybe one day, our own natural talents will be fully appreciated, too.

It’s pretty hard not to hope that the shy sixteen-year-old girl who grew up in poverty, and whose entire family died of malaria, will win; if she can do it, so can we.

But the situations occurring in reality singing competitions just don’t happen in real life. Barraging the public with the belief that they’ll make it big if they’re special enough is not only demeaning to vocalists who have worked hard for years to perfect their craft, but it also runs the risk of causing viewers to apply this idea to their lives.

Vocal performance freshman Camille Marvin knows what it’s like to work hard on perfecting her vocals. Marvin has been practicing opera for four years, and before that was involved in musical theater. Marvin said there is a definite distinction between being a successful vocalist and being famous.

“To be successful, in opera especially, you have to think long-term and have patience,” said Marvin. “Sometimes you have to say no to a big performance; you have to be aware of your own vocal development. In pop music today, it seems like it’s just important to be groundbreaking and put on a show.”

Marvin spends many hours a week perfecting her vocals, but she’s not looking to become a worldwide phenomenon — opera singers are generally only well-known in classical circles. She aims to perfect her craft and to become a successful vocalist.

It’s true that some people are just naturally better at singing than others. Just like any other talent, hard work can only take you so far; to be the best requires a mix of hard work and natural talent.

Just like hard work can only take you so far, natural talent is not enough to make it big. By perpetuating the idea that natural talent is the only road to success, reality singing shows give viewers the impression that if they have talent, they’re a guaranteed star, while a person of slightly lesser talent will never make it big, simply because of nature.

Many talented singers work hard for years and never make it big, and maybe it is these artists whom the public should pay attention to. While the idea of becoming instantly famous in a reality show is appealing, a large number of vocalists and musicians practice and perform night after night simply because of their passion for music.

Rather than subscribing to the views of a reality show and relying solely on natural talent, look to real-world musicians for inspiration; find a passion and perfect it. While this method may not guarantee fame or fortune, it will guarantee that you become accomplished in a field you love.

Opinion columnist Emily Johnson is an English literature freshman and may be reached at [email protected]

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