Oh God, What Was I Thinking??

Idol3.jpg First. I took a class to learn GarageBand in order to write a song for the American Idol song contest, but I promptly forgot everything they taught us and I can’t figure out my notes.

Second. I spent the entire day yesterday composing a pop song and at around 8PM realized it was hopelessly bad. A whole freaking day.

Third. So I stayed up and started a ballad, using the same lyrics, and this morning I recorded me singing it a cappella because I can’t figure out how to use GarageBand to do anything else.

Fourth. I don’t hate the song, but I’m not a great singer to begin with and now my voice is shot and I can’t fix it or change anything. I tried adding harmony, which would really help, but I’m just not good enough at manipulating tracks to really make it work.

Anyway, that’s where I am. I want to submit this tomorrow, so I will try again in the morning to make it better, and then whatever I’m left with, I’m entering. Even if it sucks, I’m entering it.

Good lord in Heaven, what was I thinking?? I’m going to need a vacation from this, but next week I start jury duty.

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

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7 thoughts on “Oh God, What Was I Thinking??

  1. Stacy:

    You seem to be putting a lot of pressure on yourself for this song — you should take a more Zen approach and enjoy the process.

    Even the great record producers used tricks to enhance the vocal quality. A good portion of today’s recording artists don’t have “great” quality voices; I would suspect that is why so many of them sing in a breathy or whispering tones on their records. Have you ever heard Burt Bacharach’s singing voice? Or Claudine Longet? Or Yoko Ono? Eeeech!

    Speaking of Yoko, almost all of John Lennon’s best vocals are double-tracked (“Jealous Guy” would be one, for example), not because he didn’t have a good voice, but because the timbre of it was a little thin and reedy. Many of the greatest pop records have double-tracked vocals… or other textural effects such as reverb or echo.

    Do the submission rules allow you to manipulate the recording or does it have to be a “pure” representation without added effects?

    Do you have the ability through the GarageBand software (not familiar with it) to manipulate the recording: to either double track it, add reverb or echo or other filtering effects (such as distortion) to your vocal? I’m not suggesting you need to disguise the recording, but you could maybe give it more “texture” to enhance it.

    Be honest with yourself — because you don’t work at it everyday like a lot of the contestants probably do, the likelihood is you probably won’t win. So take the pressure off of yourself and just have fun with it. You may even surprise yourself. The fact that you are participating gives you a better shot over those who didn’t even take the chance.

    You’re fixated on the finished product and how it’s going to sound compared to the others. Just work on your song, open yourself to the possibilities of some unexpected (or unconventional) ideas/choices and just flow with them. Don’t allow the process to become a chore (which it sounds like it has become).

    Make it an act of self-discovery! Play with it, as if you were generating story ideas for your next book. You might even get a great song out of it. And maybe you even write another song in the future, just because you felt the creative urge.

    Sorry for the lengthy pep talk, but you seemed to need some encouragement (don’t we all!)

    And of course, you are going to post the final result (audio file) on the site, right?

    Now get to work! (Relax and enjoy the process)

    Good luck.


    Richard (Chicago)

  2. Ha. Thanks! This was supposed to be a fun, no-pressure thing. I handed in my book and this was supposed to be strictly for fun. I’m not a song-writer so it wasn’t supposed to matter what happened, win or lose.

    But I went into auto-must-excel-and-win mode. Insane.

    Anyway, I have never been able to figure out how to imbed MP3’s into my blog. Maybe I can make it the background of a YouTube video and do it that way.

  3. The following is worth precisely nothing, and very well may be a platitude, so forgive me if I am insulting you. It simply does not matter if you win, merely putting forth the effort is the key. I get hung up on results, and I forget that my effort in extending myself past my usual, comfortable boundaries is really the part that matters. It sounds as if you had the same kind of experience I do when you have this serious goal in mind. The serious goal being FUN. I torture myself over the tiniest small details that no one but me will ever notice. Damnit, I am going to have fun even if it kills me.

  4. Ok,you totally crack me up. Reminder to Stacy – you’ve never written a song before!
    I meant to leave a comment on the last post saying how much I admire your balls to even try to do this with zero experience, never mind trying to do a good job. Give yourself a break girl!

  5. Alyssa, EXACTLY. I did this for the fun of it and I made it not fun! But I’m so glad I did it. And thank you shiftless. And thank you Nadine.

    I’m actually feeling pretty proud of myself now, even though the singing is pretty sad. I’m glad I gave it a try. And according to all I read, I’ve done my brain good by making the effort and maybe all these things I do will add up to no Alzheimers someday.

  6. How could America throw out the screaming rocker chick? And keep that little shorty Mulabye or the almost not tone deaf Katy something? UGH!! At least Rocker Chick was entertaining! I’ve never seen any unstickthin woman look that good in zebra pants. Not that I go around looking for women in zebra pants to evaluate.

    Here is my Idol Prayer:

    Please, lord, tonight as I semi refuse to watch this show, make it so that the following un-idols, who will never have a chance at selling a record get voted off and IN the following order:

    Mulabye Chick, she isn’t entertaining, she doesn’t engage on stage, and why isn’t she taking after Cindy Lauper’s ability to be short, tiny and cute in her wardrobe? Whats this with gray yoga pants? GRAY should never be allowed on TV. If you don’t believe me, catch Katy Couric some night when she’s wearing it on the news. Gray may be a new neutral, but it’s no one’s friend.

    The Sixteen Year Old Crooner Who’d make a good Tiger Beat Page, but who’s sales would kill the A&R at Sony. OUT OUT OUT, dimples and all. And stop crying on stage.

    Blonde Chick Who’d Make a Cute Swimsuit Model? The cutie from Oregon. OK, she’s tone deaf. I get it already. Why do they keep testing me?

    Secondary Blonde Chick Carlysimonish who’s overly camera aware and crys all the darn time. What’s with this crying bunch of idolwannabees anyway?

    Sayeshia – SOMEONE please give this girl a national commercial advertising contract for anything that needs to be sold. I’d buy it if she was smiling! Put her on a Soap even. Singer? not really buying it – but then – I’ve never thought she was there to promote her singing anyway. She wanted exposure.

    Aussie guy – he could hold a lounge act in Vegas until he’s 45 or so, but not an Idol. Outta there…maybe he could to RL modeling for the older guys? Not a bad gig, considerin everyone’s getting OLD these days.

    Dreadlocks King: A&F Model potential, could be a singer MAYBE if he can write something original and get some style that he can own. He’s kinda like those color changing gecko lizzard things.
    Cute, not an idol.

    Irish Chick? DIVA HAIR NEEDED IMMEDIATELY if she wants to pull something off…and someone get rid of the stylist who puts the chesty chicks in balloony & shiney shirts. Her range while good, could be stretched into perfection – but then Again? Reba McIntyre’s sound engineers will tell you perfect pitch isn’t a problem when there’s electronic sweetening. PLUS? The Tat’s on her body are distracting and should be covered when she sings. Unless she’s singing about tats. Then, it’d be OK.

    Finally my fave? David Cook. He’s the ONLY person on this season’s show well? who’s seasoned enough to go all the way. He’s not well built, he’s not googoo goodlooking. In fact he’s kind of weird – like a straight drama student you’d meet in highschool…but when this kid sings, he’s focused, he does his thing, his voice just goes and goes and goes – he has his own sound – his so-so looks hook up with his voice and his body and well? At that point it’s all magic for him. This contest was over when he let loose with the Lionel Richie “Hello.”

    And What’s with this IDOL GIVES BACK Business?
    Do NOT tell me they are beggin us for a measly thirty or forty million – when EVERY WEEK? Idol sells the premier realestate in advertising slots…not to mention that every week, 20 to 60 million people all pay a dollar to vote. By the end of the season – they’ve collected the ransome on some 400 to 500 MILLION VOTES.

    What is IDOL doing with it’s VOTE MONEY?

    and now, I return to my three cats on the bed, strategically positioned in arrow formation and other important stuff like world domination.

    I apologize for the IDOL Ranting here.
    I do NOT know what came over me…And well that’s a big fat lie. I’d like to see IDOL for the OLDER crowd becasue dammit all I want to audition. Give us the SILVER IDOL SIMON. You know, with people YOUR AGE Competing!!

    I don’t know about everyone else over 35something, but we need our own idols. Don’t we? Like the Sex in the City & Richard Gere types?

    Just a thought!;-)

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