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Wow...I do think I have a clue, Derek. I think most of the posters here also have a clue. Is it the rain in Oregon?
I don't think AI has EVER gotten the best group of 24 singers in America. I'm sure there were fat and/or ugly people who were better singers than Amy, Kady, Colton and Garrett, for instance. It's not about vocal chops, really.
It's simply about being an entertainer. That includes a modicum of singing ability, but more importantly, the ability to get people to vote for you. It's as much a charisma factor as anything else - kind of like politics. Fat, ugly politicians aren't generally successful either. That's life.
Do you really think Cher and Madonna are/were great singers? No, but they can generate INTEREST from people.
I do disagree with you that this is Reality TV like Survivor. It's NOTHING like that. This is much more like a fully-scripted game show than reality TV. It certainly has most scenes fully rehearsed.
"The worth of your career to others is directly proportionate to the amount of importance you put into making contacts, nurturing leads and building real interpersonal relationships with those you hope will help you." -Brian Austin Whitney