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American Idol

by Christina Ritchie Rogers

March 5,2006

Are you as excited as I am about another season of American Idol?! Wait! Before you stop reading, let me explain.

I'm not crazy. Yeah, I've been watching the program, sure. From radio to news to the water cooler at work, I'm out-of-the-loop if I don't. Don't call me – don’t talk so loud-don't vacuum right now- I'm watching a talent show.

This show is an unprecedented success. The girls on American Idol were watched by more Americans last week than the girls on the American Olympic team.

One aspect of the competition that I find particularly interesting is the fact that the winning Idol singers have the ability to appeal to a viewing public that consists of all races, ages and genders. Think about that – imagine having the ability to satisfy the wants and meet the standards of a group of people as diverse as America.

Like the American Idol finalists, cities across the country have the challenge of appealing to and providing for people from all walks of life. They too have a “target audience” seasoned with all races, ages and genders. But unlike the American idol singers, cities need to satisfy more than the eyes and ears of their fans.

Of course, whoever it is, the next American Idol will be someone with 1. a nice singing voice, 2. a nice personality, and 3. a nice stage presence. The list is simple, and covers the basics. But these qualities are present in every one of the finalists. What will separate the idol from the others in the end is the ambiguous, amorphous, amazing "X" factor.

Similarly, most people try to choose where to live based on a list of characteristics they define, write down and check off. This is how good, sensible Americans make decisions-right? This is how we choose where to go to school, where we pursue employment and where we live – Make a list. Check it twice.

Regardless of the checks, however, the ultimate choice will be made based on the "X" factor. Based on a gut feeling. How they feel living there.

I'm always surprised to see surveys in which Charlotte is not included as one of the ten or twenty or thirty-two best places to live. The qualities I look for in a city are the same as many of the qualities used to rank the best cities. And, living here, I find Charlotte to meet my standards. Let me consult my list...

I mean sure, we don't have an efficient system for mass-transit. And we have yet to figure out how to handle snow. And there aren't enough public dog parks. And we could use a truly great museum. And...I'll stop there. You get the idea. A few checks are missing. But I would still vote for Charlotte in any survey any time. Why? Well, let’s go back to the list... The theater scene. And the downtown drive-ability. And the people. And the weather. And the housing options. And...I'll stop there. To make a short story long, Charlotte has the "X" factor. I love it here – and that's how I feel. And that is what matters.

I'm not alone. If given the option, any of my friends in Charlotte would text or call their vote in to pick Charlotte as the next American Idol City. Especially when looking at the competition.

Of course the "X factor " is different for everyone. For example, Washington D.C. consistently ranks highly in surveys of the best places to live. And D.C. has a lot to offer- great employment opportunities, the metro, a busy night life, good social outlets, theater, music, food- the list goes on- Check, Check, Check. But that's the list. In terms of "X" factor, D.C. for me is the William Hung of American Idol Cities. I've been there. I'm not happy there. I don't feel it. I don't care what number they are on what survey. Just for your reference, the most recent list of top ten cities in which to live is as follows: Atlanta, Cincinnati, St. Paul, Salk Lake City, Tampa, Denver, Houston, Raleigh-Durham, Seattle, and Washington D.C. Anyone feel like moving? I didn't think so.

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