Bill Pere - Song Analyst and Music Business Coach

Grammy-Award-Winning Songwriting that Gets Results, 
Combining Arts, Education, and Community Outreach
Song Development - Music Production - Music Business Mentoring  - Recording -  Workshops - Artist Development

Connecticut Songwriting Academy
Helping Songwriters since 1979
Go To:


Songcrafters Coloring Book
Songwriter Tools
LUNCH- Local United Network to Combat Hunger

Community Outreach


Connecticut Songwriters Association logo

Songwriters Assoc



Bill's Videos on YouTube



KidThink Music Publishing


Recording Studio


Teaching & Coaching

Voice Instruction ===========

Each time you Search the Web using
GoodSearch,  you help us raise money for our community outreach through LUNCH

GoodSearch cause banner

Don't Google when you can GoodSearch



Click here for

A  Songwriters perspective on American Idol

American Idol Myths

The Kelly Clarkson story

Songwriting Tools and Techniques



Warhorses Make `Idol' Fly

We Have An Insatiable Need To Hear Great Tunes
January 12, 2007    By MATT EAGAN, Courant Staff Writer

Katharine McPhee may not be the "American Idol" champion, but her sultry take on "Over the Rainbow" shows up in nearly every breathless promotion for the upcoming sixth season.

The reasons for this are not hard to comprehend.

Some focus groups wait a lifetime for a moment like this - a beautiful young woman sitting on a stage wearing ruby shoes and cooing the iconic American song before a rapt audience of teenagers and their grandparents.

The producers want you thinking of McPhee as a star and wondering who the next McPhee will be.

But the real stars of that sequence are Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg, who trapped magic on sheet music all those years ago for another teenager: Judy Garland's Dorothy in "The Wizard of Oz."

If "American Idol" has proved anything in its first five years, it's that the singers' faces can change but the songs must remain the same.

Your new show of shows once billed itself as the search for a superstar, but it owes as much of its success to songwriters, both celebrated and forgotten, as it does to those who do the singing.

"When all is said and done, to be able to write a song that can stand up after 20 or 30 years is the most difficult thing," says Bill Pere, head of the Connecticut Songwriters Association. "One of those is worth more than all of the mediocre songs we hear combined."

The career path of "Idol" champions conspires to prove this point. Carrie Underwood, who has the best-selling debut album of any "Idol" alum, has been helped because Nashville remains a songwriters' town.

Other Idols, stripped of the quality words and music furnished by past giants, struggle because Motown and the Brill Building, which buoyed the careers of so many singers in the past, closed up shop long ago.

None of this is a concern for the show, which has remained a durable ratings gorilla, because it remembers a most basic lesson: Few want to watch unknown singers - gifted or otherwise - sing unknown songs. But as "Idol" will prove again, until it reaches Hollywood, Americans will watch bad singers torture familiar songs as the series opens Tuesday.

There was William Hung, of course, though it would be stretching things to include "She Bangs" on any list of great songs. But there was also the poor fellow in the first season who, not content with the traditional arrangement of "Silent Night," offered a stylized version with the immortal first line, "Silent night, I said a silent night."

And there are endless over-heated, off-key attempts to master the Stevie Wonder catalog.

This is what makes the show an easy target for cynics wary of how it lets singers skip the dues-paying portion of their careers. They are also wary of the machine behind the show's theme nights, which are as much about attempting to sell the back catalog of once-popular artists as celebrating music legends.

But there is no denying that "American Idol" celebrates great songwriting and introduces songs to a new generation of fans who might become curious about the work of Burt Bacharach or Motown's Holland-Dozier-Holland.

When Fantasia Barrino scored with "Summertime," in the third season, it was no doubt the first time much of the audience had ever been introduced to George Gershwin.

"Back in the days before television, people would sit around after dinner and sing songs," says Guy-Michael Grande, a singer-songwriter who lives in Connecticut. "You leap forward to 2007 and maybe the way we pass along some of these great songs is through the television. Kids have so much music available at their fingertips because of the iPod that they can hear a song on the show and go look up everything ever written by those songwriters."

Each week the show argues, however subliminally, there are more people who can sing than there are folks who can write great songs.

Nothing illustrated this better than the finale of the fifth season, which featured a host of established artists joining the final 12 to sing, for the most part, covers of seminal songs more than a decade old.

Toni Braxton showed up to turn "In the Ghetto," somewhat inappropriately, into a flirty romp with Taylor Hicks.

Mary J. Blige joined Elliot Yamin to sing U2's "One."

And when Clay Aiken showed up it was not to sing "Invisible" or any of the tepid tunes he has belted out as a solo artist but to take another run at "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me."

The evening concluded with a Bacharach medley that celebrated his genius even more than the elegance of Dionne Warwick.

"There are only so many really great songs," Grande says. "A song like `Over the Rainbow' is perfection because there are no wasted words and no wasted melody but there aren't many of those. Maybe `American Idol' does convince people that it's as much about a great song as it is about a great performance - the two things together. If the show makes people pay attention to songwriters, then that's a great thing."

originally appeared January 12, 2007 , Hartford Courant

red-linemusic17.gif (1173 bytes)