American Idol had it all wrong by asking contestants to sing Billy Joel tunes this week. Even though he was 24 years old when The Piano Man was released, Billy Joel was not your typical 20-something – certainly not like this year’s Idol contestants. By then, he had earned his stripes as a lounge singer, healing his wounds from a first album failure.
Plus, you have to consider the idea that Billy Joel’s ’24’ is not the same as yours and mine – that dude is an old soul with a lot of layers. Which is perhaps why Garth Brooks performing New York State of Mind with Billy Joel and Barry White’s take on Just The Way You Are works…
Aside from wanting to share some old footage of Barry White, there is a marketing communications lesson here: don’t try to fit a square peg into a round hole.
American Idol tried to make its contestants (square peg) sing songs that just weren’t (in my humble opinion) suited to their strengths (round hole). These contestants have some very strong voices – something that may be better suited for the likes of Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Marc Anthony and the like. You don’t need a powerhouse voice to perform a Billy Joel song – his music doesn’t require vocal gymnastic. I believe that the more you add on, the less ‘Joel’ you get.
As a marketing communications pro, you should never try to fit your square peg into a round hole – epsecially if you’ve delivered at a certain level on other projects. Case in point: when I was in New York, I worked with this one guy who could write just about anyone under the table – he was fast, smart and very creative at re-working dull copy. The one time we let him speak to the client was enough to give him the opportunity to decline future meetings – the dude was sweating, stammered his way through a few sentences and looked shifty. He was so nervous that it just presented an inaccurate portait of his strengths.
Squre Peg | Round Hole.
This is not to say that you should stay in your square peg world. Nay Nay. You should definitely try new things and strengthen what weaknesses you may have. But to put yourself out there as being able to perform at the same level with *everything* that comes with the gig…is…a…mistake. Know when to ask for help; seek advice; get a mentor; and lean on your team. That’s what they are there for!
So, when was the last time you saw a ‘square peg in a round hole’ situation? Have *you* ever put yourself into a ‘square peg | round hole’ situation?