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    Mentor 4 not a waste of airtime

    by Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo
    posted Monday, 23 February 2009 10:17| 2 Comments

    Reading through the JIVE paper last week, I realized that 99% of all the articles posted were attributed to writers with names but this particular piece, “Out of tune, Out of favour: Mentor 4 is a waste of airtime,” had no name attached- so I mused, was the piece penned by a ghost or a phantom?

    Obviously, considering the content of the article and the characters involved, I conjecture that the ‘ghost-writer’ was petrified to put his/her name on/below the article, and I have an admonition to the writer.

    Charlie, if you don’t possess the swagger and the guts to write such critical pieces and claim them, and then be in the position to defend your arguments, you better put your pen down and save us the rhubarbs.

    On the article, I utterly disagree with some of the assertion raised and I could not concur more with other sentiments about the Mentor show. The writer asserted that most of the reality shows are usually remodeled versions of existing ones and tend to lack originality and he/she wrtes, “Afterall, very few products of this charade of talent show have managed to make any real impact on the music industry. With the exception of one hit wonder Andy, struggling Okuraseni, Isaac Show boy, Cee and Ruth, all from the very first edition, previous contestants have failed to make anything of themselves in the industry that, the show claims to be feeding with talent.”

    My friend, yes, the Mentor brand from the first edition to the current edition has exposed over 48 contestants but only a handful have attained some level of fame and all the opportunities that came with it. In fact, of all the winners in the four editions of the music talent show, including Prince I, Prince II, Erico, and Kofi, none has really made a resounding statement with songs or albums. so one may raise the argument that the Mentor ideology is flawed but before you say I told you so - check this out.

    The mother of all music reality shows, American Idol has had seven seasons and has placed the spotlight on over 1,000 contestants but the number of contestants who have made impressive impact are a few – Clay Aiken, Chris Daughtry, Carrie Underwood, and Kelly Clarkson. Of all the winners, Kelly Clarkson (season1), Ruben Studdard (2), Fantasia Barrino (3), Taylor Hicks (4), Carrie Underwood (5), Jordin Sparks (6) and David Cook (7), only Clarkson and Underwood ever hit double platinum with their respective albums and have won Grammys. I won’t even mention Pop Idol and X-Factor, but it is clear that the ability of contestants of musical talent hunt shows parlaying their exposure on such platforms into producing chart-topping and award-winning songs has been a daunting task. As a result, albums produced by the ‘Idols’ have received lukewarm reception and have failed to sell which have prompted the likes of Ruben Studdard and Taylor Hicks to be dropped from their labels.

    I also disagree that the MCs Dentaa and KOD have been good so far. Considering the performances of Chris Attoh and Anita Erskine on previous seasons, I can state unequivocally that the performance of the KOD and Dentaa has been galling. The combination of the two has produced miscommunication, confusion, and howlers and I wonder whose idea it was to pair them. The impeccable performance of Anita Erskine in previous editions surpasses the two combined and that’s real talk.

    To chide the performance of the contestants is fathomable but to say that the Mentor 4 show is a waste of airtime is wrong, very wrong. You think it’s a waste? Do a survey in Greater Accra alone and sample households and find out what programme is heavily patronized on television on Sundays between 8pm- 10pm. That is how you check for empirical facts to ascertain if the show is garnering low ratings or not, but don’t ask a couple of friends and present their opinion like it’s even for a metropolis.

    I also disagree that production for Mentor has been the best. With the fluctuating sound effects, the miscommunication between MCs, miscommunication between MCs and judges- the production for Mentor 4 has been sub-standard. One time, judges raise their cards before they comment, the next time they comment before they raise the cards - one moment, the views of in pidual judges are sought on who to save, and other times, one judge speaks for all the judges, on one platform the MC says the voting pattern is 70%-30% with majority to the public and on another platform, the producer of the show retorts that the voting pattern is 100% to the public – such mess!

    The only point I agree with the ghost-writer is on the performance of the contestants. If the writer is an avid observer of the Mentor brand, he would have realized that the issue of performance has been the bane of the show since the first edition. Week after week, the judges seem to be repeating themselves, commenting on the same old flat notes, high and low notes, keys, microphone techniques and yes, syncopations (hope I got it right).

    Doing my own analysis, I realized that the issue of lackluster performance is deeper than one mulls over. It implicitly has to do with these contestants not being abreast with the rudiments of music or the classroom kind of music. To these guys, all they know is that they possess good voices, good looks and okay stagecraft, but do they know the craft of music, the theory of music, notations in music, and technicalities in music and so on? I don’t think so! How many of these contestants really know about the syncopations, the keys, the flattening, and the high and low notes?

    How many of them really understand when the judges use all the jargons in the music dictionary when they comment on their performances? Apart from the daily rehearsals, are these contestants being given lessons on the rudiments and the basics in music? Are they being taught by music teachers on the various modes of music- and I don’t mean the voice coaches.

    I could not agree more with Mrs Dinah Reindorf, a music expert and Head of Dwenesie Music Institute on musicians and their knowledge in music. “You cannot be called a lawyer if you have not studied law and you cannot be described as a medical doctor if you have not studied medicine so why are people calling themselves musicians when they have not made any effort to study music,” she laments. Mrs Reindorf was so spot-on with her comments which make me prod; how can aspiring musicians and contestants on Mentor perform well when they have less or no knowledge in music. How can they perform better when they did not learn music in schools, when they are not learning it in the Mentor house and especially when knowing about the theory of music is not a requirement in applying to join such music reality shows?

    The ghost-writer was also of the opinion that, considering the below-par performances of the contestants, the judges might have not done their work properly by not selecting the talented personalities for the final show. If the writer watched the auditions across the regions very well, he would attest to the fact that what we have now, what we are watching now are the best the judges could assemble, considering the kind of aspiring musicians who presented themselves for audition. The solution to the problem is not quixotic, but achievable. The organizers must employ music teachers to tutor these contestants so they can appreciate the craft very well which would go a long way to help them in their performances and also in their future recording sessions.

    The judges who are fond of using such music jargons should find out if the contestants do understand their comments, they shouldn’t just say them for TV. As part of their responsibilities, the judges can also go the house at certain times and tutor them on the technicalities of music. The talk of copyright, branding, stagecraft to the contestants in the house would be meaningless if the so-called musician is oblivious of the simply key he/she sings in.




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