Magazine article The Middle East

The Search for a Star

Magazine article The Middle East

The Search for a Star

Article excerpt

FOR ANYONE WHO HAS NOT YET BEEN EXPOSED TO THE television programme Pop Idol it should be said that while it is almost impossible to believe the cheek of the programme's makers who devote hours of viewing time to filming often the direst of pop star wannabes, it makes for compulsive viewing.

A team of three "experts", always including one particularly vitriolic member, audition singers who feel they deserve a career in the music business. The only qualification for joining the auditions is turning up.

Following the final selection process, every week a number of "stars" are knocked out by public vote until only one winner remains. Some contestants do have talent, most are abysmal. Nevertheless, Pop Idol has become an international hit, with several countries screening their own versions. The latest one of these to hit the headlines is the Iraqi version, Iraqi Star, and in the midst of the violent chaos that is modern day Iraq, people are turning on their televisions to watch it in their thousands.

More than 2,000 people auditioned for the show, some risking their lives to travel to the studios in Baghdad. Ahmed Nema, a prominent Iraqi musician and one of the three judges told a visiting journalist that the talent of the entrants varied widely but the determination of all those who showed up impressed him the most. "You have to understand how difficult it is to rehearse, to travel and do even the most basic preparations in a country like Iraq," he said." Often there is no electricity, it is dangerous to travel and there are extremists who believe it is wrong to perform this kind of music. …

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