Glee

In response to my blog last week about the “discovery” myth—that the path to success in the music business is through chance, minimal practice, and the kindness of strangers—Lisa X brought up a valid counter-point. In this competitive world of new music, sometimes the naivety of an upstart musician is refreshing. This made me think of a recent popular culture phenomenon related to another guilty pleasure show I’ve been watching lately, Glee.

The FOX Network hit television series, Glee, currently airing the second half of its first season, recently closed its open, internet casting call for three new roles in Season 2. From February 2 to April 26, fans submitted video auditions on MySpace, including a minute-long personal statement and a song performance. Following the story of fictional William McKinley High School’s glee club “New Directions,” Glee started as a risky venture that unabashedly marketed to musical theater nerds with its over-the-top impromptu song performances, but ended up as a surprising addition to mainstream popular culture. Apparently showstopping song-and-dance appeals to a wide variety of people.

The internet audition exploded. There were around 33,000 videos submitted available for public viewing and rating (you give gold stars to your favorites to increase their likelihood of being selected). Applicants range from some of my peers at the Shepherd School of Music—such as vocal performance undergraduates Paul Wilt and Bridget Casey—to just about anybody with vocal chords and a webcam. For someone like Paul and Bridget, who are trying to cut careers in the competitive world of vocal performance, this is a real opportunity. To the average high school student with minimal training and experience, or any sort of long-term plan to have a career in performance, it’s a long shot. I have mixed feelings about these auditions because, as I mentioned last week, I think the less the “discovery” myth is perpetuated the better. But, on the other hand, watching videos of people from all different levels of experience laying their hearts on the line for a dream—however na├»ve or improbable—is beautiful.

What do you think of the Glee online audition process?

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