Feature Archive

Why Contestants Go on American Idol

Is it only fame and fortune? Experts explore the motivation of American Idol contestants.

By Star Lawrence
WebMD Feature

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Your knees are shaking, you're trying to decide whether Paula Abdul is flirting or smirking, when you meet Simon Cowell's steely gaze. Uh-oh, maybe this wasn't such a good idea.

Not everyone has the talent of a Jennifer Hudson, Chris Daughtry, or Carrie Underwood. So why do people go on American Idol, the reality TV show for the show-biz obsessed?

"I do believe some people think they have talent," Marjorie Brody, co-author of the book on networking titled You Can't Do It Alone and president of Brody Communications in Jenkintown, Pa., tells WebMD. And some do have the talent to showcase.

"The second group, I believe, are those who don't have a lot of talent and may know it, but who crave a lot of attention." People in this second group, Brody says, may think about themselves a lot but, paradoxically, may not have a lot of pride.

Brody also identifies a third group of aspirants. "I think people try out on a dare," she laughs. "I don't have evidence of that. But I think they say, 'What is the worst that can happen? I could not get on TV? I could get on but be booed off? Hey, I was on TV at least.' They are not into the vanity part of it."