Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Jewish Star vs American Idol

A Jewish Star will soon move to the next stage, and VIN released a list of the more popular contestants.

As the show moves on, one thing is clear - the voting system is tricky. Why? let's first look at American Idol's system, which was the inspiration for this show. In American Idol, a panel of unknown judges judge hundreds of thousands of contestants around the US, choosing the more interesting auditions. This always includes bad contestants, who will be later be made fun of. But aside from these, the contestants who pass have good voices. In the next stage, they appear in front of a panel of star judges, like Steven Tyler and J. Lopez this year, who will choose the ones they approve. Only in the next stage - stage 3 - the public kicks in to pick their favorites.

A Jewish Star's format is very different - the "public", that is, registered voters, solely decide who will pass to stage 2. Some commenters have raised valid questions:
anonymous says:

Just because these guys have lots of friends to vote for them, doesn’t make them a good singer! They should be judged by their voice and talent (by the 3 judges), not by the amount of votes they got because they are popular. This is not supposed to be a popularity contest! There are others who should to be on this list and some on this list that shouldn’t!!! I hope others agree with me!

I partly agree with Anon. I would put it differently - why do you need the panel of judges of the public will be choosing who will pass? However, the public should be involved as this is the secret of American Idol's success. So who should decide - public or judges?

I think that it should be more like American Idol - the top ten should be chosen be the panel of experts and only in the next stage the public would pick their favorites. The current voting system leaves an open door to weak contestants who can find a way to arrange backing from the voting "public".

I would like to stress that I was from the early enthusiasts of this show and I still think it's a great idea. But there's room for improvement and I believe my criticism is constructive. A few golden contestants were left out and with this other system I think they would have very good chances of going to stage 2.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Eli Gerstner and Aidelkeit


"When asked what qualities he looks for when he auditions choir members, Gerstner said: “Good voice, stage presence and the most important factor – aidelkeit.”

“A child who performs must be a Baal Midos. It won’t work any other way. People don’t want to see a boy with an ego. The ego comes through in the voice.”

So a good voice is not all?

“Exactly. We turn down so many kids who try out for YBC who have amazing voices but lack in Aidelkeit. Take Avrohom Fried, for example, he has an amazing stage presence without the ego. And look where he is…”"

I am an early Gerstner fan who jumped off the boat when he started his child choir career path. Until then I bought every single CD he produced, the good ones and the weaker ones. Overall, I liked his music and contribution to Jewish Music. With that said, I was a little confused by the interview above. He signaled the importance of Aidelkeit for the audiences when speaking about boys choir but brought an example from Avraham Fried's way of being.

But if Eli subscribes to the importance of Aidelkeit as seen in Avraham Fried, why doesn't the same standard applies to adult performers (Chevra is not exactly in the Aidelkeit field)? Should they all be "aidel" as well or the argument only goes as far as child choirs are concerned?

Well I believe ego is most often good for music. It's hard to define what kind of ego Eli is talking about, but in adult soloists, I like when they have personality as it adds flavor to their compositions and public performances. Take Lipa, Dedi, Yishai Lapidot, Adi Ran - all them have positive "egos" which make them extremely entertaining. After all, that's what singers are - entertainers. Avraham Fried is also an entertainer but with a whole different, most subdued, no-ego, style. And that's also appealing to many.

Now take child soloist. Eli says he will refuse the very best soloist just because he has ego; or if I understand him correctly, just because he has a strong personality. Why? Because there's a code which was created in the Children's Choir world - they should look all the same, sing all the same and smile at all times. And be aidel.

Doesn't that sound funny to you? Boys Choir are not entertaining; the are just cute (to some). That explains why Eli refuses egos - they stand out from the cute standard. Even if they have the best voice ever.

That goes out to prove that when it comes to Boys Choir, music comes in second place. First is about fitting in the stereotype. With this kind of backstage, it's no surprise that no good music comes from there. It's an institutionally flawed system. Kids are not meant to entertainers. Adults are. Lipas are. Dedis are. Children are not; they are just cute.

Benny Friedman’s Kulanu Nelech Album Review

Benny Friedman’s latest album, Kulanu, is out on Spotify, and as a paying subscriber I enjoyed listening to this album quite a bit, to the e...