Taylor Hicks, American Idol, and the Weather Forecast
During a May 2010 visit to Cleveland’s FOX 8 News Taylor Hicks was invited to deliver the weather report. His charming take on the forecast was a hit, and Taylor subsequently joked “When you’re a musician, you always have to think of a back-up plan; who knows…”.
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Let me say upfront that Taylor Hicks will never be your local weatherman, and later I’ll make clear why that back-up plan is not an option.
On the other hand, I do believe that future American Idol hopefuls should consider a stint as a weatherman before standing in the audition queue. Let me explain.
1) Learn to manage unreasonable fan/media expectations
We’re rarely satisfied with the weather report. The accuracy is limited, and the farther into the future the weather is predicted, the less likely the forecast will hold true. One recent article suggested that we hold the weatherman accountable for his/her reports. Run a comparison in the newspaper or on TV, says the writer, between the previous week’s forecasts and what actually happened. Give the weatherman a grade.*
A good start, I think, but go further. Run that comparison, and then consider the accuracy of forecasters in Cleveland versus those in Birmingham, or in Boston. No matter that the complexity and uncertainty of the weather patterns in those cities may vary. It doesn’t really matter whether the comparison is fair or appropriate. I just want the numbers, and I want to report them over and over again.
In this way the aspiring American Idol contestant will be well prepared for unreasonable fan/media expectations, and for newspaper reports that focus on inapt comparisons of units sold, rather than on artistic merit.
2) Practice and perfect vocal performance skills on television
Here is an opportunity for Idol contestants to practice in front of a camera, to acclimate themselves to the glare of the lights and to deliver a memorable performance to the home television audience. Don’t speak the weather report – sing, or beatbox, or rap it.
3) Establish your own brand
Shifts in the music industry mean that relatively few artists will be able to sustain a career solely based on album and concert ticket sales. Many Idol alumni have found opportunities on Broadway (Taylor Hicks and Jordin Sparks among others) and in the movies (Jennifer Hudson and Carrie Underwood). Use the weather report to brand yourself as a multifaceted entertainer; develop your acting, dancing and/or comedic talents.
The weather report could offer a platform to American Idol candidates who need to refine their entertainment skills while building confidence in front of a camera. For experienced entertainers, that platform isn’t wide or long enough.
During his 2007 post Idol national concert tour, Taylor Hicks celebrated the fact that he was no longer limited to “two minutes of performance time” or interrupted by television commercials. Take a good look at the length of the televised weather reports shown above. Yes. They’re just about two minutes in length. The average length of a single Taylor Hicks song, performed live in concert? Oh, I’d say about six minutes.
On any given concert night, several of the songs performed are presented jam band style as the Taylor Hicks band mixes songs within songs. That simply does not work when delivering the weather report; mixing rain in Birmingham and snow in Boston would produce slush in Washington, or at least a good deal of confusion.
Finally, Taylor does not have the time to devote to satellite weather maps, not while his fans await a new album, and anticipate appearances on screens both big and small. So I say, and I’ll say it twice, stick to your day job, Taylor Hicks. Stick to your day job.
Taylor Hicks Helps Scott with the Weather, posted with vodpod
*Fiction, Fact and the weatherman http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/11/17/3068724.htm