HOW TO BECOME THE NEXT AMERICAN IDOL

Finally the auditions are over, with Hollywood Week on deck. I always wonder why the various contestants don’t spend the months between winning their Golden Ticket and landing in Hollywood losing weight, improving their hair and wardrobes and picking and learning songs in every genre. Because on “Idol,” preparation is everything, so why not start out ahead?

But even if you didn’t get ready ahead of time, here are five tips to keep you in the competition:

1. PICK A SONG THAT GIVES YOU SOMEWHERE TO GO!

Don’t sing a song that just says “I love you.” Pick a song that says, “I love you, but it isn’t working out between us” or “I love you, and that love gives me the strength to go on.” You want a song that tells a story, a song that an actor would say has an emotional arc, one that takes you and the audience on a journey.

2. PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT THE SONG IS SAYING!

You want to bring the right emotion to a song. Just because you have a powerful voice doesn’t mean every song has to be a powerhouse. A lot of people still express shock that Jennifer Hudson was voted off so early during season three, but her version of “Weekend In New England” during Barry Manilow week communicated none of the pain of missing someone that’s inherent in the lyric.

3. PICK A SONG THAT WAS A POPULAR HIT!

Sure, if you’re Bo Bice, you can sing a little known song like “In A Dream” a capella and knock it out of the park. But otherwise it will help if someone has heard of the song, even if it’s only the judges.

4. PLODDING HARD ROCK SONGS DON’T WORK ON “AMERICAN IDOL”!

Just ask Constantine Maroulis, who left the week he sang Nickelback’s “How You Remind Me,” or Sundance Head, who just missed the Top 12 thanks to his choice of Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy.” Even Chris Daughtry never had a chance at making the finals, thanks to his parade of sound alike hard rockers from the likes of Shinedown and Creed. If you have to sing rock, make it something fun and tuneful.

5. DO WHAT YOU DO BEST!

If you excel at one genre, stick with it. If you specialize in country, you’ll always be able to find at least one song in whatever category the producers pick that sounds country. The same goes for soul singers or rockers. Remember, the only time the judges ask the contestants to try something different is when they’re bored with what they’re getting. If you sound great every week (and pick interesting songs), you’ll stay around.

See you at the finals in May!

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