Dora Talks “Megan Hopkins on America’s Got Talent and The Voice”
(Chris Brake Show Episode 24)
Once upon a time, I dreamed of becoming a singer-songwriter. I grew up watching the rise of the likes of Avril Lavigne, Michelle Branch, and Vanessa Carlton and I wanted to be just like them. I wanted to play the guitar and get paid to sing songs about the people I don’t like, the boys I have a crush on and the parents I love but don’t want to live with.
But most of all, I just wanted to be so talented that I could easily quit high school and my strict Asian parents would be on board with it. Sadly I didn’t develop the patience to get good in the guitar and my lyrics were mostly half baked versions of Incubus songs.
In college, some idiot asked me to be the vocalist in his band. I was 17 and I didn’t know what being in a band meant other than wearing a lot of black clothes and skull paraphernalia. We mostly did cover songs of bands I’d never even heard of.
It was the time of the emos. You know, side bangs and lip piercings and guyliners and black nail polishes, essentially just a lot of black. So what made us stand out is that we were the anti emo. We were a ska punk cover band and we wore thrift store clothing and neckties. At that time, I thought we were the bomb.
What drew me in listening to this podcast is Megan’s recount of the time she auditioned for The Voice and America’s Got Talent. I watched The Voice for an entire season (3rd I think but mostly waiting for Adam Levine to take off his shirt) and I see these hopefuls, some as young as 17, trying to get into the music business.
If you’ve never seen an episode of The Voice, it’s a singing contest with a selling point of, “I don’t care what you look like. All I’m really interested in is your voice” And to prove this, the judges have their backs turned and if they like what they hear, they press their button to turn their chairs around with the words “I Want You!” lighting up.
If you’re lucky enough to get “a turn” you get to be mentored by one of the judges who are successful music artists themselves. If you’re not, you get to be on TV and you get to try again next season.
This sounds like an ideal singing contest right? Compared to American Idol or even America’s Got Talent – which is not exclusively a singing contest – The Voice gives the contestants a level playing field. Or at least the idea of a level playing field. You come in thinking,
I don’t have to work so hard at my appearance because they don’t get to see that not until they’ve heard my voice. And the voice is what’s important right?
Megan Hopkins may have had that very idea going to The Voice auditions, or not. After all, she did go on a dare. It was not the live auditions we get to watch on TV but just the initial screening to weed out the try-hards from the real singers. I’ve had my fair share of auditioning for things. Maybe not as big as The Voice, but the process is usually the same.
You dress yourself to your best, hoping your genre of music is evident in your style choice. You commute to the location of audition, lugging around a guitar or whatever instrument.
You register and wait in line as other hopefuls belt out a short piece of music (usually 2 minutes) and hope that was good enough to impress whoever it is they’re trying to impress – or in Megan’s case, a disinterested lady behind a laptop. Two minutes of singing out of 9 hours of waiting, auditioning is a grueling process.
“The Voice was a bad experience”
That is what Megan has to say about her audition on The Voice. She even described the people that worked there as “overworked nasty bitches”. Before I listened to this podcast episode, I’ve never seen anything of Megan Hopkins. I’ve not heard any of her music. I don’t even know what genre she puts herself in.
All I really got from the description is that she’s a singer-songwriter from Indiana and Chris’ own description of her having a “cigarette stained vocals that I love so much. Like the Janis Joplin type” and I already knew she’s a serious singer-songwriter who is in it for the love of music and not so much about the fame.
Let me just say something about that. Indie music is my jam. And I used to have this attitude of falling out of love with an indie band that starts to become a little mainstream. Yes, I was basically a hipster (or I still am but who cares).
But going back to that vocalist version of me, the one that used to sing in dimly lit bars and goes to auditions, I understood that every serious musician desires to do this music thing full time. And singing in bars and uploading videos on YouTube does not really help pay the bills.
So now, I’m a little more forgiving of indie artists’ fame. One less Justin Bieber in the world right?
I am not speaking on behalf of Megan Hopkins and I’m not saying that my interpretation of her interview is the truth, but maybe her The Voice audition started out as a dare, but I know there was a part of her that really wanted it to be the thing.
The piece of the puzzle to at least get it halfway done. She even said, “I went to The Voice half expecting I had a chance”.
When she gets to the actual story of her audition in The Voice, she described it in a funny way.
Yes, the wait was long and the people that worked there were awful and not at all interested in music, but thinking about it, it was an experience. At least an experience I can laugh in a shaking my head kind of way. Not an actual quote but that was what I feel about the interview.
I don’t usually take podcasts all too seriously, but listening to what Megan has to say about her experience, I realize (not surprisingly) that The Voice is as flawed as any other singing contests out there. The contestants they have play in the live auditions have been screened and tested.
Some even have a heart tugging story to include in their reel. And they have been obviously made up and dressed by professionals in clothes that probably they don’t own (this season includes an advertisement of Kohls).
It’s not to say it’s a bad show and that they don’t care about the music, but the whole selling point of “all I really care about is your voice”, well, it’s kind of bullshit.
What I found to be the most enjoyable part of those things, is not the idea of making it and gaining any approval from the media or anything like that, but just the test of how I fair in a room full of that many people that are that nervous and that on edge.
And that was when I decided to pause the interview and listen to Megan Hopkins’ songs.
Megan Hopkins may have not made it to The Voice or even America’s Got Talent, but she’s got it. She made me believe in her music and I’m an Asian girl that lives in The Middle East who has definitely never been to Nashville, Tennessee.
I’m so grateful to the internet because it allowed me to be less ignorant of the type of music she had to offer. And I kinda wished I had Megan Hopkins to listen to when I was growing up.
Pubescent me would have definitely wanted to be just like Megan Hopkins, a bad-ass guitar playing singer belting about Nashville, Tennessee and the devil taking away her pain.
Curse Word Count: 38
Burp Meter: (surprisingly) 0
Read more from Dora on her personal blog at http://notyourrolemodel.wordpress.com/