Back in his native England, singer-songwriter Jake Bugg has been quite vocal (no pun intended) about his disdain for singing competitions like "The X Factor." So his fans may have been surprised when he accepted Keith Urban's personal invitation to perform on a recent "American Idol" results show. However, when Jake recently spoke to Yahoo Music at South By Southwest, he explained that he had agenda when he hit the "Idol" set.
"My instinctive opinion was to say no, of course," the 20-year-old Nottingham troubadour admitted, "but then I thought, I've talked [badly] about those shows and given my opinion on them, but I actually haven't gone there and experienced it for myself. Maybe it might give me a different view on it. So I went there; Keith had asked me as a fan. I thought, some kids, their big sister might watch, and they might only have one TV set in their house. And a lot of [young] people think [going on a singing competition] is the only way to get a record deal…
"So I wanted to go on there and do my thing and kind of just say, 'You don't have to go on those shows. I didn't go on those shows. There's people that tour in a little crappy van, and you stay in crap hotels. It don't sound glamorous, but it's a lot of fun. It might take a little bit longer [to make it], but it's definitely worth it.'"
Jake acknowledged that TV talent shows like "Idol" and "The Voice" may help launch an unknown artist's career, but said he still doubts that they're the best way to establish a lasting career: "It's great exposure, of course, but even the people that win make one or two albums, and then they're not seen again or heard again. So how much are you doing it because you want all the perks [of stardom], or because you really want to make albums and great songs and do music?"
While Jake enjoyed his time on "Idol," his opinion of singing competitions didn't change much after the experience. "I met a few of the contestants…it's really hard. You would look in their face and think, 'You're not the winner.' And it's really dark; it's horrible, really," he revealed. "The way 'American Idol' ran their show was great, I'm not knocking that, but it's the actual concept: 'Thanks for coming on the show, but you'll probably never get a record deal and your dream is smashed.'"
Ironically, appearing on "Idol" helped Jake's career immensely: His sophomore album "Shangri La" experienced a 551 percent sales spike after he performed "Me and You" on the show. And while it doesn't seem like Jake will make such TV appearances a regular occurrence, he didn't deny that Stateside success is important to him. "America holds a lot of music history for me. Many of my influences come from this country. Breaking America, of course that would be nice," he said. "But I more just want to be able to tour. If I can come here and tour, regardless of how big shows are, that's great."