I have a love/ hate relationship with American Idol.  I love watching raw talent and listening to good vocals.  What makes it hard for me to watch, however, is the fact that for every person who makes it to Hollywood Week, there are thousands of performers across the country who are just as talented, but still unknown, sharing their gift in church choirs, coffee houses, or bar bands, but unappreciated and undercompensated. 

The premise of American Idol is that the best will rise to the top, and a superstar, the ‘best of the best’ will emerge.  Of course, we all know that’s not the case, especially when we see our favorites knocked out in earlier rounds.  There really is no best of the best, because choosing a winner is a matter of taste based on a small pool of applicants.  American Idol is basically a vocal popularity contest.  We all know how those popularity contests worked back in high school.

If we hated the popularity contests back in high school, why do we let popularity inform so many of our buying decisions?  Not only do we buy our music from the latest super-marketed superstar, but we make a lot of our buying decisions based on the biggest “name”.  Is it because we’re too lazy to research the options?  Is it because we don’t trust our own likes and instincts?  Is it because we want to feel like we belong?  I think in many cases it’s a little bit of all of the above.  

That doesn’t mean that the popular choice doesn’t have value, because it often does.  But when we make our decisions soley on what “everyone else is doing”, not only do we miss out on great alternatives that may not be embraced by the crowd, but we grant even more power to the perceived popular supplier, potentially resulting in fewer choices down the road.

Something to think about when you make that next purchase.


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