Although I haven't watched American Idol in a few years, I've been sucked into watching it regularly this season. The other week, the judges were talking about how important it was for the contestants to connect to what they were singing. When you are able to connect to what you sing, people feel it. And when you don't, the performance tends to fall flat.
I think this can be true of any art form. And I think another way to describe connecting to what you express would be authenticity...the idea that what you're expressing is really coming from an inner place in your soul, as opposed to just being a facade. Because a facade, even if it's a well-executed one, doesn't tend to have the emotional impact that a truer expression does.
So for this reason, one of my favorite Idol contestants this season is Siobhan. I think she has a true artist's soul. Every time the judges criticize her, she responds with clear reasons as to why she chose the song, her feelings about it, etc. She is definitely not trying to fit a formula or be who they want her to be. She has this inner compulsion to march to the beat of her own drummer and be authentic, even if it doesn't fit a typical Hollywood commercialized category. I think I am wired this way as well. I feel more integrity when I express what is longing to be expressed, then when I modify it or contain it to get it to either make more money, appeal to more people, or whatever. For me, purity of expression means the most. Everything else falls somewhere farther down on the hierarchy. It's helpful to realize this as I progress, because I think it will help guide my future decisions about what kind of art to make, where to show it, and how to keep pursuing it.