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by Marianne Dowling

Here’s my confession: I love Canadian Idol. I’ve been gearing up for the show’s third installment by watching Simon Cowell drive verbal stakes through the hearts of contestants at the American Idol auditions. These preliminaries are my favourite part of the show. When Cowell sits at the judging table next to an ever-shrinking Randy Jackson and an ever-more plastic Paula Abdul—I feel contentment. At this point in my life, I’m not sure of much, but the one thing I do know is that when I watch Idol—I’ll be entertained for the next hour.

And like most people who watch on a regular basis, I think the real fun starts when those clueless kids (the ones who think they are the best singers in the world) stand in front of the judges and belt out something so audibly unholy it makes Yoko Ono sound as pure as Charlotte Church. The judges inevitably cringe and snap the contestant into reality by telling him/her that he/she…well…sucks. Yippee!

I’ve often asked myself how these people, who clearly can’t hold a note in a bucket, think they’re talented. Sometimes I attribute it to tone-deafness, but most of the time I’ve blamed it on insanity. I mean, no reasonable person could be that delusional, right? Or could they? In March, I decided to put myself through a very unscientific experiment to see if these people are as crazy as I thought—or if I’m as sane as I think.

I consider myself a fairly lucid person (you’ll have to trust me on that one) and although I don’t think I’m a good singer, I have always prided myself on my writing, cooking, and spelling. I gathered a panel of “experts” to be my very own Simon Cowells, and Sass Jordans and judge me in each discipline. My friend, a teacher, would test my spelling; my cousin, a professor, would mark one of my essays; and two friends training at the Culinary Institute would grade my cooking. With any luck, I could prove whether I was as good as I thought, or whether I was deluding myself like so many Idol hopefuls.

First was the spelling test. My friend Margo tested me on 35 commonly misspelled words. I wasn’t too fazed until she took out her red marking pen (!) Even more painful was my final grade: 51%. I can no longer say I’m a good speller. I blame computer spell checks.

Next, onto cooking. While this didn’t go too badly (they did have seconds) the culinary guys said the colour was too dull, the vegetable were a bit soggy, and the asparagus was cut too long. I have to face it—I’m no Julia Child.

Last was my writing test. I wrote an essay about my favourite band. I hadn’t written anything academic since graduating from UPEI. I suppose this is my excuse for lacking clarity in the essay, writing too informally, and forgetting proper pagination. She didn’t give me a grade, but I got the hint.

My lesson: We’re all a little delusional, that’s why bad singers at Canadian Idol auditions are never in short supply. Buy earplugs.

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