She’s received heavy criticism for her less-than-encouraging words to auditioners who showed up for the Nigerian Idol music reality TV show. For someone who’s far more experienced and must have had her fair share of struggles on her journey to stardom, folks figured she should have been more empathetic towards the idol-hopefuls trying to achieve the same dream.
In the particular case of a 17-year-old, Seyi Shay’s “damning verdict” of “you can’t make money from singing” drew comments such as, “She could be his aunt or even mum”, so why would she put him down and discountenance his efforts when she could have adopted a more humane approach?
I have seen a few episodes of the Nigerian Idol as well as The Voice, two music talent hunt shows that happen to be airing at the same time, and I can see why viewers would be critical of the judges; either because they are a little too blunt in their review of a contestant’s performance or are unwilling to let a seemingly suitable candidate through to the next phase of the competition.
But I also think a lot of the negative feedback from audiences are more sentimental than logical.
I get it. We imagine ourselves as the contestant who already has a hard time stepping forward to give their dream a chance and we wonder why the judges can’t relate to this struggle.
I empathise with a contestant who has received flak or been turned down even when their singing talent is apparent, but I also know it’s wise for anyone who decides to put their skills to test in the open to envisage that they will be criticised.
In fact, they may be despised and treated with contempt for daring to take a chance on themselves.
It’s unrealistic to not factor this into the equation as they also imagine that they will be applauded and handed a golden ticket.
Creatives almost always have a hard time dealing with a critical review of their work, especially when negative. Sometimes, the feeling stems from an overestimation of one’s offering; at other times, it’s plain old ego playing out.
We are even sceptical that those who sit on the other side of the table aren’t as talented as we are and are only privileged to be the critic.
However, anyone who plans to get better at what they do owe it to themselves to brace up for the unpalatable feedback they may get from time to time. It’s the way to improve and forge ahead.
If all the reviews we ever receive are positive, there’ll be no learning points and we will end up being lulled into a false state of perfection. Contrary perspectives may not be easy to accommodate, but they are important for growth.
For the discerning, they provide insight into problem areas they may hitherto be unaware of; aiding them to identify and work on such aspects.
Should critics be kind with their words? Maybe.
Nevertheless, it behoves the one who has elected to share his work to be prepared for the “worst”. Judges do not owe contestants a soft landing, especially when they are clearly bereft of talent.
Even for the skilled, the path to upping whatever they have done in the past is to always acknowledge that there’s plenty left to learn. Anyone who thinks like this is far more inclined and likely to continue to upgrade their know-how compared to their opposite number who saunters in with a know-it-all attitude.
And so, rather than berate reality TV show judges who are scathing in their assessment of a candidate’s performance, my advice will go to the latter.
While words are powerful and have a tendency to seep into our psyche, it’s also imperative to note that we are capable of absorbing what we need and deflecting what’s not needful.
The world is a tough place with many vying to be recognised and make something of their lives. Therefore, a candidate who gives up and gets derailed because of cynical feedback isn’t ready for the bigger challenges they are bound to face on their journey up,
If you are going to succeed at anything at all, you must be ready to put yourself out there.
And if you put yourself out there, you must expect to receive divergent opinions at your work.
Any other expectation stems from naivety.