ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Western Idol seeks sober musical talent
By Dallas Curow
With Western's Wet/Dry program suspended indefinitely, the
University Students' Council has been working to create programming
suitable for this year's all-ages crowd. The first such event
is the ongoing Western Idol competition, which kicked off with
auditions in Medway-Sydenham Hall on Oct. 5.
Each round of competition names one "Idol" along
with several "wild cards," all of whom advance to
the final rounds, which will take place early next year. The
winner of the whole competition will be awarded a cash prize
and crowned the one and only Western Idol.
The Gazette wanted to check out the USC's efforts to liven
up campus with some good, old-fashioned Dry programming. I
decided the best way to do this was to experience it for myself:
that is, to try out. I found out when and where the first round
would be held and after browsing the extensive list of song
choices (available online at www.westernidol.ca),
I realized the competition had an interesting twist: instead
of the a cappella seen on shows like Canadian Idol, Western
Idol tryouts involved karaoke.
To be honest, most of my experience with karaoke brings back
visions of three different performer archetypes:
1. The inebriated, slurring yet determined singer. This character
usually picks a sentimental ballad to bastardize. Their performance
often includes intense finger pointing and lots of liquid-courage-enhanced
attempts at high notes. They usually give up halfway through
after failing to remember which song they were in the middle
2. The group of five or more girls screaming either "I
Will Survive" or "Respect." Please, let it end.
3. The Veteran/Diva. This performer can be male or female.
Divas identify themselves by confidently sauntering up to the
stage. They have performed their song choice hundreds of times
and are usually "in character" when doing so. It's
common for them to bow when finished.
In the case of the first round of Western Idol, however, I
was shocked to see none of the above archetypes. I have years
of classical training and have developed a good ear for music
and most of what I saw was real and exceptional talent.
The judges based their ratings on vocal skill, stage presence,
originality of presentation and personality. I could see they
were also closely observing how the audience was receiving
each performer. Glazed eyes were a bad sign; jaws dropping
to the floor were definitely an indication the performer had "it."
I chose to perform "Turn to You" by Christina Aguilera
and I had a great time doing so. The formal lounge of Med-Syd
was a perfect atmosphere to calm the nerves. At first it was
very strange to hear pre-recorded backup singers' voices emerge
from the speakers, but the karaoke format of the competition
ended up being very effective. Perhaps taking karaoke out of
a bar can turn down the suck. Or maybe with sobriety comes
All in all, the experience was great and I'd encourage anyone
to give it a shot. If you don't sing without a couple rounds
of tequila, go support those who do. As last week's tryouts
showed, the search for Western's own Ryan Malcolm is off to
a great start.
WESTERN IDOL AUDITION LOCATIONS:
Oct. 19: Alumni Hall
Oct. 26: Elgin Hall
Nov. 2: Westminister Hall
Nov. 9: Delaware Hall
Nov. 16: Saugeen-Maitland Hall
Nov. 23: Perth Hall
Nov. 30: Essex Hall