Artists Supporting Artists: Lessons From #AmericanIdol

Season 13 of “American Idol” is over, and someone won.

And yet everyone won.

As a rule, I don’t watch competition shows; I’m pretty selective with my television watching altogether. People with superstar dreams (note: without a ‘Z’) flock to local competitions, putting their lives on hold for a few minutes of fame and perhaps to get noticed. Sometime it’s about the prize and sometimes it’s about the exposure, but at the heart of it all, these shows are still a competition: there will be one winner and the rest are losers.

My family watches the show, and one of their favorites this season was Caleb: all rocker with a throwback sound you’d have to look for on Pandora or maybe “Ozzy’s Boneyard” on SiriusXM. Caleb looked and sounded ready-made for superstardom; he looked like he was auditioning, not competing. I paid attention, drifting away from my writing desk to listen in when his turn at the microphone came up; if you’re a fan of classic rock, he’s hard to resist, belting out David Coverdale tunes like a secret lovechild. In spite of his incredible talent, he not only sought out the other contestants for support but genuinely supported them in return. Instead of a weekly shrinking group of flaring attitudes, they all became closer, and you could see it on the screen, often with Caleb at the center of it.

They were all competitors, yet they all supported one another.

Peeking in once in a while, there was a time many years ago when “Idol” interviewed their contestants and asked what they thought of one another, highlighting the drama in the competition (possibly even orchestrating much of it). Those days are long gone, and the show itself isn’t the ratings champion it once was… too bad. You hear so much in the media about how narcissistic and selfie-oriented today’s youth are, with no ambition and expecting their handouts, yet there on the stage were over a dozen young adults competing for a single prize and more than willing to help one another reach it – just because they could.

Should all artists be like this? Lessons learned.

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