In my last post, I talked about my fondness for talent contests. The appeal of a talent show is twofold. I appreciate the hard work that it takes for anyone to get up and put yourself out there for potential ridicule. I am not a professional musician. My music releases are for the most part glorified vanity projects. Anyone can do with their music exactly what I am doing for nearly next to nothing. I know there are many people more talented that I am who are unwilling to release their music because they don’t think their music is good enough. Anyone who is willing to perform live for other people deserves at least a little respect. And the encouragement we can give a budding talent may be just the thing they need to get them to the next level.
The other reason that I enjoy talent shows is for the entertainment value of watching someone with little to no skill trying their hardest at something they have no business doing. It’s the equivalent of watching NASCAR for the wrecks. And just like NASCAR, you don’t want to see anyone get hurt. You don’t want to see anyone running off the stage in tears because someone said something bad about their performance. You get the maximum enjoyment from the good or bad performer when they give it their all. Bad performers will soar to heights of ineptitude when they are the most confident in in their abilities.
In October of 1996, I had an opportunity to hear a report on NPR about a CD called Talent Show. The report told the story behind this recording. It was made during a talent show in 1981 at a community center near Boston. The community center was located between a church and a retirement home. The performers and audience for the show came from both of these locations. A guy that lived in the community recorded the show which was later released on CD from Arf! Arf! Records. The story of the recording intrigued me enough to purchase the CD. The recording started and I decided that the singer on the first track was one of the worst I had ever heard. I declared that it couldn’t get any worse than this. Then the next performer came on and I decided that they were the worst ever. A band of young men playing “Here Comes the Sun” start over repeatedly and end with a drum solo. A Chinese family sings several Christian songs in Mandarin. Another man sings a medley of about 40 songs in 2 minutes. One singer doesn’t perform because she has strep throat. And they announce it. Each performer seems to outdo the previous in the terrible singer category. I think the only really talented musician on the recording is the piano player.
I found this disc to be extremely entertaining. It’s not just because it is a great showcase of bad singers. You also get to hear the consistent encouragement of the audience. There are no boos. No one is asked to leave the stage even when there are major mistakes. They even bring the drummer from the band back on stage for an encore drum solo. The liner notes of the CD didn’t tell the background story that I heard on the radio program. It helped me appreciate the unique environment where this show took place. I highly recommend this recording to anyone.
Singer, Songwriter, Entertainer, Storyteller