Friday, November 11, 2011

“Factoring the X”

I have followed the TV reality program “The X factor” and many of its likes (Project Fame, Glo Naija sings, American Idol) for a while now. I learn quite a lot from such shows. I saw young Americans display high level of maturity and confidence. A particular 14 yr-old rapper, Brian Bradley (nicknamed Astro) was exemplary for this. The first time I noticed him was during the auditions where he ‘dissed’ Simon (one of the judges) and transitioned into his song. During the live show, he was first to perform and I was stunned with his performance. He was absolutely brilliant.
I saw real emotions show through the contestants when they were told they passed or didn’t go through.

I saw real emotions on the judges’ faces when they had to tell a candidate ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

I saw the tears, the sadness, the disappointments, and hugs of encouragement (and that of genuine happiness).

I saw genuine laughters, smiles, openness and honesty.

I saw passion and expressions of how-badly-I-want-it.  For a particular guy, Dexter Haygood the sum of his life was a car and some jackets for a change of clothing. He said he needed to win the competition more than anyone else. When he was told he had made it through to the live show, he was so excited, he dove into the swimming pool (in the judge’s home) fully clothed, shoes, scarf and all. Such momentous expression of "I can't believe this is happening".

I heard songs coming from deep within the souls of those who have the talent for it and who have recognized that talent.

I saw admission of weakness like the guy, Chris Rene, who was trying to stay clean from drugs – barely few months out of rehab.

I saw expressions of great delight, genuine emotions, tears of joy and those of sorrow.

I didn’t see intimidation of younger contestants by the adults. Girls and boys of age range 13 – 16 performed alongside age range 26 – 59. No one felt it was their ‘father’s right to be in the competition. There was no visible expression of superiority or inferiority complexes. It was a true competition. There was respect for one another’s talent and there was respect to/from the judges, voice coaches and other people involved with the show. I don’t know much about what goes on behind the scene but I read through the whole scenes and imagined the scenes not presented on TV.

I didn’t want any of such moments for myself (my voice might not be as good but it isn’t bad) because my purpose doesn’t align with singing on the stage but standing on the stage for some other reasons. I felt my own people deserve chances such as this (in addition to the ones which runs in Nigeria). I really desire more opportunities for more and more Nigerians to explore good passion (expression of talents) and unforgettable moments of their lives.

I saw honest exchanges of greetings and honest assessments of contestants’ performances highlighting details of strengths and weaknesses.   

I saw genuine concern in the judges’ communications. I saw the difficulty on the judges’ faces when they had to choose from a number of good singers. Of course they knew from the start that they had to do that but it was clearly difficult. Truth is, no matter how good a voice talent is, there might be another which is more consistent and sultrier. There is also the element of “appeal” to the crowd and to the judges as a factor for selection. More so, only one person will eventually win the competition (I detest the winner-takes-all principle).

“The X factor isn’t just about having the best voice but about the personality, charisma, and having the confidence to carry through” said one of the judges during the live show.

A young black boy, Marcus Canty, acknowledged that music for him was a solace, sort of like a safe haven which prevented him from indulging in vices which were prevalent in his neighbourhood. He also wanted to make his mum proud.

A little girl of 13, Rachel Crowe (with a voice better than that of many music stars) expressed her desire to win so that she could have her own bathroom. She explained that she stays in a 2-room apartment with 5 other members of her family. Such innocent desire.....

I saw beauty in the environment, green landscapes beautifully designed and artistically arranged.

I saw expressions of astonishment, stage fright, speechlessness and shock, and I identified with the sacredness and beauty of each human life.

I saw a journey which at first involved thousands thin down to numbers in the tens.

Something interesting happened on one of the episodes. After having told Melanie Amaro (one of the contestants) that she didn’t make it to the live show, Simon Cowell (the lead judge) admitted to the rest of the judges that he had made a mistake. He immediately set out to make amends by heading to the home of the girl (unknown to her). They were all surprised to see him. He apologized to her and the family admitting he made a serious mistake and asked her to come back into the competition. I saw the expressions of joy on the faces of members of Melanie’s family. This decision changed the allotted number for the girls (from 16 to 17) who went on to the live shows. Well, I guess that's why it’s called "The X- Factor". I learnt a serious lesson from that episode.

In all there were great lessons to learn (never give up on dreams no matter what and no matter how long –Leroy Bell and Stacy Francis) and beautiful expressions of wonderful moments in some other humans’ lives.