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June 2019
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2005-02-08 'You're a Star" is wrong way to go about picking a song for musical nation

Is Ireland really a large enough country to justify running a nationwide star-search three years in a row? Of the USAs 300 million, American Idol has multiple millions in the right age bracket as potential wannabe-contestants. How many of our 3 million are eligible by comparison?


Leaving aside the fact that the eventual prize is to enter a song contest  a competition for songs, not for performers specifically  and that that song contest is a sort of lottery anyway, with blatant political voting, the winning songs of late seem to lay a huge emphasis on production and choreography, and no longer seem to be about the song at all.


Youre a Star is surely the wrong way to go about choosing a winning song for our musical nation. After months of preparation, blood, sweat and tears, Chris Doran went to represent our country with a good song, and he sang it well.

Maybe his look was wrong, maybe he ought to have been professionally choreographed, but this young talented singer with his huge dream of stardom was flung into the deep end of a musical lottery and came second last (even last might have been strangely better?), and now he clings for dear life, like thousands of others, to the showbiz ladder.


We all of course witnessed the disappointing outcome of The X-Factor, but at least that star-search programme had a more apt title. After all, that is what it is all about  there are so many singers who are technically accomplished, sounding like their idols, but they sing with no heart and no soul. So many of them havent got it  that special something inside which sets them apart from all of the others  the X-Factor. When you sing, you ought to give a part of yourself to your audience, as you open yourself to your public. Who can forget the footage of Judy Garland in her later years during one of her many comebacks, singing as though her life depended on it? Through her voice, and her heartfelt performance, we could see all the pain of her hellish childhood and her string of failed marriages  her vulnerability  crying out and touching us. And there is no doubting that when our own Tabby performs, he gives a part of himself to the audience.

As a singer/performer myself, I always enjoy the feeling, that I am endeavouring and hopefully succeeding to give pleasure to others. This positive feeling ought to radiate from the stage into the audience. But then again, singing has a similar effect on the body and soul to sports activity. A professional singers heart/muscle capacity has been proven to be much the same as a well-trained joggers (Stockholm Nat.Institute of Health and Psycho-Social factors).

Even those boring vocal exercises are in their own way as healthy as sports exercises. Singing, both listening to and taking part in, has been proven to mobilise the immune system. During and after singing, a substance called oxytocine is produced, the same substance produced in expectant mothers, and indeed during sexual intercourse - Im told! This substance arouses maternal, euphoric and calming feelings.


When in good health, singing can rid one of infection, anxiety and stress. Remember Jenny Bond on Im a Celebrity - get me out of here, lying in a coffin full of rats  my absolute worst nightmare? In the ultimate stressful situation, what does she do? She sings.


Singing can help in times of grief to help get over a bereavement, singing can help to distance oneself from suffering stemming from childhood anxieties, singing can act as an alternative buzz which is safe and hopefully will not cause long-term damage like other alternative buzzes. Diaphragmatic and intercostal breathing, as employed in correct singing keeps the lungs, heart and diaphragm healthily active.


Even the stomach, legs and bottom  are utilised in good, well-anchored singing. This interaction of organs of the body, keeping a healthy heart and good circulation, this letting-yourself-go, this all-over good feeling, this creativity  all part of good healthy singing  is surely conducive to all-round health and stress-relief?


With all the choirs and musical societies in the area - think about joining. It is not only a social outlet, and opportunity for creative teamwork, but is also an alternative healthy hobby.