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So who’s got the X-Factor…?

It’s great fun covering live music for the Phuket News. Yes, I can blag myself into a show, get free food or beer maybe, stumble though a song or two with some great musicians and play some ragged harmonica. But the big reward for me in all this? I can be nosy and no one seems to mind.

Maybe it’s genetic as my mum was nosy. She always wanted to know what was going on in the small fishing village I come from. However, if she was interested in the community where we lived, I’m drawn to understanding the musical community here, which I see as a lot more interesting than, say, Newlyn, UK, population: 1,832.

You see, I’ve always been fascinated in what makes people tick. It’s why I studied Psychology at university and trained to be a counselor. I want to know what motivates them, how they make use of their talents and personality, and what makes them different. And now I can tell others their story if they want.

Take my friends Joseph and Lisa who perform with Hard Rock’s house band, February Cherry. Yes, Lisa is a terrific singer and Joseph is a very talented guitarist, but there seem plenty of them around. Why are they playing in Hard Rock every night and others are not? What got them the job? What made them stand out?

When I last saw them at Hard Rock’s reopening ceremony, Lisa engaged marvelously well with the audience between songs and Joseph was up playing on the bar within about 10 minutes. In such ways they show that there’s much more to being a successful act than just singing and playing well.

Take Freddy Mercury for example, regularly voted the best Rock vocalist ever. Yes, he had a five octave voice; yes, he was pitch perfect; yes, he had perfect vibrato. But I’m sure there were other singers around who could sing as well as he did. It was something else that that made him the best, something extra that gave him the X -Factor if you like. Yes, Freddy knew how to strut about the stage, Lisa and Joseph too, but it’s not all necessarily just about being flamboyant.

Take Johnny Cash  – he couldn’t sing or play guitar well; Bob Dylan had a voice like sand and glue (as goes the song); Ozzy Osbourne had all the poses and stage moves of an iguana (actually, that’s not fair on iguanas); Bjork was just…well…plain weird. Yet they all became successful because they came across as somehow authentic and different. It’s therefore got something to do with our personality and how it’s expressed, and that is precisely where journalists can help.

So if you know someone who wants to be a star, tell them to not just blindly follow the crowd by crudely aping some aging rock star. Instead of covers, maybe try out their own stuff. Tell them: “Be yourself, be different, and have confidence and sincerity in what you do.”

“Stand out in some way from the crowd. Then maybe, just maybe, you’ll show people something uniquely special about you and they’ll want to know more.”

And you’ll give someone nosy like me a story to write about!

Andy Tong Dee

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