Dave Grohl: 'TV Talent Shows Make Everyone Sound Like Christina Aguilera'

Grohl says the contestants on these shows are judged too harshly by people who can hardly perform music of their own.

Ultimate Guitar

Dave Grohl has slammed TV talent shows like "American Idol" and "X Factor" because the cruel judges can hardly perform music of their own.

The Foo Fighters frontman also said that contestants on those shows ends up sounding the same rather than finding their own voices.

"I think people should feel encouraged to be themselves," Grohl told NME. "That's what bums me out about those shows where people are judged so harshly by f--king musicians that hardly even play an instrument on their own f--king albums. It makes me really mad."

He added: "I swear to God, if my daughter walked up onstage and sang her heart out and some f--king billionaire looked at her and said, 'No, I'm sorry you're not any good,' I'd fucking throttle that person, I swear to God. Who the f--k are you to say what's good or bad?"

Grohl says the problem with these young singers trying to please judges means that "everyone sounds like f--king Christina Aguilera."

Of course, Dave Grohl knows more than a thing or two about making real music. The last Foo Fighters album was recorded on analog tape in his garage, and he spoke to dozens of respected musicians while filming his recent "Sound City" documentary movie, where he picked up this piece of advice from an old friend:

"The next time someone says you're not a good singer say: 'F--k You'. I interviewed Neil Young and he said in his band someone said to him: 'The band's really great, but honestly you shouldn't be the singer.' If Neil Young had listened to that person then we wouldn't have had any Neil Young."

What do you make of TV talent shows? Should there be a place for it on our TV screens or could they do a better job of representing real music with passion? Share your view in the comments.

54 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I have to agree with Grohl, he talks sense. Nowadays, the people who win either look ugly but have good voices or sing pop rubbish because that's more popular than rock/metal music. It's a shame that there aren't enough opportunities for new talent...
    There's always opportunity for new talent to get noticed online. The real problem is that people don't like to listen to something unless they are told by someone else that it's good, or told by someone else that it's bad. That's why we all think that 'stairway to heaven' is a great song, because it's constantly ranked as the best or one of the best songs of all time. It's also why Justin Bieber, Rebecca Black and Ke$ha became popular, because we're constantly talking to each other on forums, comments sections, and youtube videos about how bad they are. Which makes people want to check them out and hear why people hate them with such intensity. The fact is that anything can be used to promote new talent in the digital age, the real issue is that if you attempt to use these resources (posting comments on youtube, or even on this site) people will immediately respond in a negative or a falsely positive manner that will end up hurting you rather than helping you.
    matteo cubano
    all the kids i know who are going places rapidly with their music are the biggest a-holes and popular kids who rap very generically, they really just get their music spread around cuz they have a ton of friends at their high school who's musical tastes are diluted by pop radio. whereas semi loners like me get little to no word of mouth and thus i get 30 likes on my facebook page or 20 plays on soundcloud. Im not saying im amazing or anything, but i make music that I like but no one I know likes the same style of stuff as me. It's the most frustrating feeling in the world, to want nothing but to be able to do what you love and have it reach people when culture doesn't glamorize deviance and risk taking.
    what the hell does it matter if the people with good voices look ugly? They're trying to make music, not commercials or movies with extreme close-ups on their face. Do you honestly judge the musicians you listen to by how they look and not their music?
    You'll also notice that the ones who do try to do other things that aren't just strictly Pop, end up being incredibly Pop-esque, regardless of what music they play. There have been a few .. er.. "Rockers" and Country musicians to make it through American Idol, but all they ever end up doing is making sub-par Pop Rock and Pop Country.
    Case in point, i'm going to use the UG comment section as a tool to promote my music. Prepare to be amazed at the amount of dislikes/downvotes i'll receive from my fellow musicians for the heinous crime/taboo of promoting my own music.
    I think you got upvotes because you seem much more human in your promotion than the usual annoying "Hey guys, if you like -insert band or genre-, check out my (bands) music, remember to share, and suscribe!" - People who write those are in the same area as the dumb spam comments on this site - they seem robotic, dumb, and it feels like we're getting a product shoved directly into our faces, with a mad hobo screaming "LISTEN TO IT! LISTEN TO IT!", which is not exactly a comfortable feeling. People generally hate hearing the same old message again, and again, so that's why you get upvotes - you seem genuine, and it doesn't feel like you're robotically shoving your product down our throats... I just realized the last part of my final sentence sounds... Wrong... Oh internet, what have you done to me?
    As positive criticism that song didn't go anywhere and I was waiting for an explosion of goodness but it kept building up and up and didn't go anywheres. I have blue balls now.
    Pretty much agree with everything said here, those talent shows (and Simon Cowell) need to disappear quickly. Damon Albarn shares similar views
    Battery Chicken
    Love this vid, how many people have talent shows produced that have released anything of any real substance? It is just emptyness as Damon says. It's a shame because there are probably musicians struggling away right now who have a Sgt Pepper level album in them that will never see the light of day because of vapid shit like x factor.
    He's right, but no one is looking at American Idol to give us the next revolutionary musician. American Idol and X Factor want easy bubble-gum pop to sell to kids and that's exactly what they get.
    Scavedge [VR]
    Thank all that is sane Dave is saying this. Hopefully the world learns stop f***** judging and actually sees talent in passion. Because passion and creativity makes a good musician, not how many Americans vote for you cause a rich bit** told them to.
    Just once I'd like to see some contestant who gets critiqued by a musical joke like Nicki Minaj show some self-respect and tell the judges to go f*&^ themselves.
    Would something like this qualify?
    This makes me so happy and angry at the same time. The truth in his words fell like a warm blanket over me while the fact that they made it look like he was an idiot by having the queen of autotune defend her little pride by feeling "uncomfortable"..
    This is why Dave Grohl is one of my favorite musicians. Music is meant for expressing how you feel and how you want it it be, not to get the most votes on some stupid ass show, or to sound like everyone else.
    He's completely right. I mean fundementals are important, but if the only thing you focus on is "sounding right" then you're missing the idea. Then there's no room for creativity. Did Nirvana or the Beatles or Zeppelin become as influencial as they did buy "sounding right"? No.
    i think the voice is probably the best of those "talent shows" the judges are real musicians and they look for individuality.....i do realize that Christina Aguilera was a judge on there but she never won. and you need actual talent to even make it through its not like the xfactor where they are trying to make you into a pop star and its mainly based on looks.
    Battery Chicken
    I don't listen to the Foo's but I love pretty well much everything else that comes out of Daves mouth. Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Neil Young, Mark Knopfler None of them have great voices, but sing some of the most beutiful music I have ever heard.
    I've been told singers like Bruce Dickinson, Hansi Kursch, Serj Tankian, Mike Patton, and such are all "bad" singers who sound "bad" by people who religiously follow these types of shows. Not much one can say back to that.
    'Dave Grohl has slammed TV talent' oh UG up to its old tricks. Plus dat picture 0_0
    The sadly unsuprising part of it is that he is 100% right - If Kurt Cobain (one of the most distinct, and memorable voices ever) went to one of those talent shows, and he sang, they would throw him out - why? Because they all go after the same sound - in boys the all go after something ridicoulusly sappy like Justin Timberlake, and all girls must all sound like (As Grohl said) Aguilera - Talent shows are the most boring, uncreative, narrowminded, and frankly dumb shows on air...
    I can think of a great example relating to this. Chris Daughty have a great voice and everyone thought he would have won American Idol. However, the judges did not see that, at times, and the votes did not help the case further which lead Daughtry to be booted in 4th place. In the end, though, Daughtry landed a record deal and has written some decent songs and did much better creatively/successfully, than what's his face that won it that season. My point being that, sometimes, the judges does not really have a grasp of what they think is the right act of music and that their opinion should not be the be-all end-all opinion.
    Definitely agree here. It's the big problem I've had with shows like these. Look at Thom Yorke for example. He's not exactly the greatest vocalist technically, and he wouldn't do very well with simple pop songs, but for what he did in Radiohead his voice has become quite iconic to the band and he's received more acclaim than pretty much any TV show winner.
    ...or..this sort of shows is mostly for the generic "stars" who pretty much want to be the same - instant pop-ish stardom. these shows give you the easiest exposure (good or bad) but are not the only way to break into the biz. but he is spot on when it comes to the judges lacking talent. most of them are rubbish (although according to Grohl such things should not be said).
    Growl is right.These type of shows are just transitory commertial success with a few expeptions and very questionable judgemnt procedure.Perhaps are more single groups/persons hidden behind than real talent criteria.Judges always blabing about everything but no real concrete facts,in fact I've heard people that sound like $hit perfoming live but audience just were left go by the moment(and even jugge themselves) and viceversa,wonder if the first type could success just after their first contract of a recording .Perhaps like a tv host already mention:Those type of programs are more of Karaoke essence than real talent.