American Idol vs Olympic Performers

Posted on 17. Feb, 2010 by in American Idol, Performance, Singing

So American Idol has reached Hollywood and the winter Olympics have begun. Now let’s say you want to be able to perform at a higher level than you are today and under pressure.  Let’s say you want to be able to elevate your skills.  Which one should you watch to learn the most from?… 

In American Idol we have arrived at Hollywood week.  For most of the singers this is an absolute dream come true.  They are beside themselves at the possibility and the opportunity that has proven to follow success in American Idol.  What if they can become the next American Idol?

And in Vancouver, the Olympic athletes have arrived at the moment they have trained towards for the last 4 years.

Now what is the big difference between American Idol contestants and Olympic Athletes?

Well, here’s one:  Last week we saw tears of desperation from the American Idol contestants who did not make it to the next round.  Several people choked in the heat of the moment and forgot lyrics.  Simon Cowell had of course added to the pressure when he proclaimed that “if you forget the lyrics” you’re out. And others didn’t do as well as they could and begged for another chance.

But the interesting part is how poorly they handled defeat. Several contestants were completely heartbroken, apologetic, ashamed or angry: “Sorry mom”, “I blew my one chance,” or someone defiantly screamed they could have been the next American Idol..  They were speaking as if their one chance in life to be something worthy had been crushed.  They spoke as if their careers were over.

What they don’t realize is that this fear of not being good enough is exactly the reason they choked.  They had built up this belief that this is the one chance in their life to prove something.  Their whole behavior is fear based.  Their singing is based on trying to prove themselves rather than communicating a song with love, joy and passion.  Frankly, many come across as quite immature.

But American Idol is no Olympics. You want pressure – compete in the Olympics.  You want to ensure that you don’t get another chance – compete in the Olympics.

But here’s the big difference: Athletes do not operate with fear. Great performers aren’t afraid of losing. They may hate to lose but they aren’t afraid of losing. Listen to athletes – real athletes – when they speak. Listen to them when they fail and listen to them when they succeed.

Tonight is a great opportunity to watch the veteran snowboarder Shaun White in Snowboarding.  Now there is someone who will be extremely nervous.  The pressure is enormous.  He won four years ago and everybody is expecting him to win and to perform a trick no one has done before. That, my friends, is pressure.  But listen to him when he talks.  I don’t know if he will succeed or “fail” tonight.  But listen to his attitude in either situation and you’ll understand why he excels so often.  Learn about the enormous work and preparation he and other athletes undertake.

For them it is a constant never ending search for improvement.  Now, I said Shaun White is a veteran.  But did you know that he is only 23?  Yes, that’s right, he won the previous Olympics when he was 19, after having fallen in the first run, then got up and outdid himself.  That is a true performer.  At 19 he was younger than most American Idol contestants who can’t seem to handle falling down even once.

To everyone who wants to become a singer, I urge you to watch and learn from someone like Shaun who knows what it takes to excel.

Please add a comment:

64 Responses to “American Idol vs Olympic Performers”

  1. Eileen

    10. Jun, 2011

    T:I have done quite a bit of singing both in choirs and solos.  I find that the more I sing, the better I get, but also I find that before each performance I have to relax and talk to myself so that I won,t panic,and when I feel comfortable and relaxed I don't worry about making a mistake . I just go for it! It also helps to say a prayer before getting to the mike.  I also listen to comments made to other performers by directors and teachers, and adopt some their techniques, such as muscle relaxation, etc. comment here…

  2. Ashok kumar Thakur.

    09. Jun, 2011

    Hi Per,
    Firstly i want to say a lot thanks.your creative article is awesome .This is very helping me. i am learning Hindustani classical before 6 monts  but I am not able to get technic how to sing but when I saw your video i am very happy. now i have got Technic and no problem to sing.

  3. Margret Firnkes

    07. Jan, 2011

    Hi Per! Thank you for all your comments.I belong to a choir of older Ladies 60-80 years young.I have always enjoyed singing & did some solos as well.But sometimes the high notes getting harder to reach.In my younger years I wanted to be a proffessional singer, but the funds where not there for my parents.Looking forward to a fabulous singing year.Thanks for the lessons & the opportunity of voicing my story.
     Margret Ottawa/Canada

  4. naomi

    23. Feb, 2010

    I would pick Amarican Idol because peoples dream can come true and i always wanted to become a singer. So i would pick that show..=]

  5. laurent

    23. Feb, 2010

    Hello, I concur with the post and many comments. May I bring a strange comparison, but the olympics make me think of honourable pacifist activities in ancient greek time, mens trying to better themselves and the human race, but American Idol make me think of Roman Gladiators where the most vulgar emotions are there to satisfy another strange human attraction. It's the reason why I don't watch these so called musical programs but prefer to watch live shows from proper establishe artists, whom we have so much to learn from.
    PS: In fact I can recommend a website which is amazing, it's called "what about me?" (from 1 giant leap) that is a truly magical musical experiment. Let me know what you think.

  6. BFerry

    21. Feb, 2010

    Wow Sharyn, your story brought me to tears.

  7. Sharyn Campbell

    21. Feb, 2010

    Hello Per, What very wise words, excellant!  I don't know if you remember me, I was learning how to sing so I could at my husban's memorial in October. Well I did that & I shocked quite a few family & friends. I felt as though I achieved the impossible, something I always wanted to do. Pressure – NONE! Anticipation – PLENTY. My teacher, (besides you), had her students cut a recording in August (3 songs each), for us to be able to compare then to now. BOY! What a difference. Whilst I did what I set out to do, something every bit as big, every bit as overwhelming happened. I took my recording to my 88 year old father who burst into tears after hearing it & said to his wife, look what I bred. He told my brother, (63yrs) "She sings better than the ones that sang the songs in the first place". My father used to sing as well and he used to yodel, which I am trying to teach myself and going OK too. No Olympic Gold, No Australian Idol, But a lot of self satisfaction, and some stunned people. Thank you Per.

  8. lucky v

    21. Feb, 2010

    Dear Per,
    two elements / without doping please…/
    the most important is awareness and control
    always try to use these two elements when you are in art field..Singing or create whatever…
    lucky v 

  9. Cabot

    20. Feb, 2010

    Thanks Per,
    I like the comparison between singing and athletic performance.  One source of fear is the notion of scarcity: if I don't do well now I won't get another chance.  This is obvious in situations like Idol and the Olympics, but I think that in both art and sports there are always going to be more opportunities to perform and show your best.  Alleviating that sense of scarcity may be as simple as finding or creating opportunities for yourself (and others).  You can pound the pavement to do auditions or organize something yourself and invite all your friends.  Chalk it all up to that 10,00 hours!

  10. lesley hammack

    20. Feb, 2010

    Hey i love watching americans idol. My mom tells me im going to try out one day. Im sorta shy though. i love singing thats mostly what i do all day. I loved this page the more i read the more it inspired me to sing.

  11. Seija

    20. Feb, 2010

    Shaun White was amazing! I watched TV only because of Per´s mail and realised tahat  our Peetu Piiroinen from FINLAND was "the second best" ;-) )!
    Thank`s a lot Per :-) ) !

  12. travis

    19. Feb, 2010

    Nice post Per can't wait for the follow up!  Shaun White is amazing

  13. Jesse

    19. Feb, 2010

    Good post Per.  I agree.  If you are thinking this is your last chance to succeed that is the attitude of a loser.  I actually learn a lot from each failure.  It is always great when I succeed and it is a great feeling.  However, some of my greatest moments were because I learned from past failures.  I heard that Thomas Edison tried 5,000 times before he finally invented the light bulb.  Someone told him you mean you failed 5,000 times before you invented the light bulb.  He responded by saying no, I learned 5,000 ways not how to make a light bulb.  I am not sure this is the exact point, but you get the picture.  The point is in order to eliminate failure, learn something from it every time.  What a great concept.

  14. adam Kaczanowski

    19. Feb, 2010

    very very true! Attitude is everything :)

  15. anitaortengren

    19. Feb, 2010

    Fantastic article Per. Have already learned a lot from it. Singing and performing is a joy and a great experience. Without music and singing, the life would not have been so fulfilling as it has become. I admire your way of spreading this fact.
    Best wishes

  16. Per–Thanks for keeping us informed.   I am working to becoming a professional
    performer (entertainer).   I have read your articles–and I try to keep informed.  It is
    NOT easy, as you know.   Too many technological changes–too fast. 
    Great blog.  
    I sing (I have three instructors (including you))(they do NOT conflict!)), I act,
    I am a stand-up comedian, and I model, AND, AND, I am working on a
    Digital Piano (records everything and has an orchestry build in).   
    I THINK WHAT YOUR DOING IS FANTASTIC!!   Please keep up the good work.
    Oh yes,  Happy Belated Valentine's Day.  (HAH!)     Seriously, you're a real friend. 
    Signed Dr. Hanna

  17. CharLee

    19. Feb, 2010

    All of Life's a Stage,   The podium, a personal aspiration unique to the athlete in all of us,  When all is said and done, and beautifully put I might add after reading all of the above, The joy of life is the journey, so dream your dream and "Go with Freedom"  Thanks Per, I'm having an awesome time making funny faces, laughing and singing with you in my computer.  


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