It's easy to complain about singing competition shows like 'American Idol,' 'X Factor' and 'The Voice.' They value karaoke-style singing over performing one's own material, they favor pop flash over personal grit and they've spawned dozens of similar-sounding artists. But when Elton John looks out over the would-be pop stars on TV, he just feels pity.

"The type of celebrity that television shows give you these days, without the experience of playing live, means you are just thrown to the wolves," explained John during a recent interview with MTV.

"Getting experience by being in a band and earning very little from what you love doing gives you the backbone, mettle and experience you will need later in life. I don't dislike the people on these shows, but feel sorry for them. They win the show, make their record and the next year it's someone else."

By and large, it's hard to argue with John's statement; aside from a handful exceptions (most notably Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood), the majority of the careers started by these shows tend to start fast and fade quickly. They're certainly good for giving performers instant exposure, but even in the Pro Tools era, there's still no substitute for honing your craft while toiling in the trenches. Unfortunately, that doesn't make for very good television.

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