Survival, 'American Idol'-style

Eight tips from two judges on how to cope with competition and maybe even win.

1. Know thyself.
"Before you do anything, whatever it is, figure out who you are first," Randy Jackson says. "What do you do best? Do you sing best? These people come into the audition: 'I can sing jazz, blues, rock, country, what do you want?' I want what you're best at. I play guitar, drums, piano, and I sing a bit. But I'm best at the bass. In order to build a road to success, you first have to know where you're going."

2. Learn from the greats -- not just the flavor of the week.

"Kids come on who have locked themselves in a bedroom for a month, bombarded with Christina Aguilera, and they come out singing that way," Simon Cowell says. "If you listen to the great singers from years ago -- Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra -- they didn't play around with melody, they just sang it."

3. Pick a song that's your own size.
"When we say the song is too big for you, it means you don't have the kind of voice to sing a song that's big and rangy," Jackson says. "You should sing a song you can really tackle and make your own. By trying to sing a song that's too big or too much for you, we know you have no idea who you are."

4. Develop a specific stage personality.
"What you say after you sing, or before you sing, is as important as what you do sing," Cowell says.

5. Sing. Then sing some more.
"Singing Top 40 is one of the best things anyone can do, I don't care if it's for no money, whatever," Jackson says. "It helps you get over the nerves. Tape yourself, and listen to it unbiased. Don't just think, 'OK, I was born, therefore I'm great.' Be humble and compassionate, and always strive to be better."

6. Be consistent. All the time.
"You've got to adapt that Fantasia (Barrino) spirit: You've go to leave it all right there on the stage," Jackson says. "Sing your heart out every time. Kids get booted off every week. They're there, but they didn't perform well. Every time you hit it, you've got to hit it hard."

7. Hate your competition.
"From Day 1," Cowell says, "don't like anyone else. All this 'we're friends for life' is complete rubbish. It's a competition, and to win, you have to focus, and winning a competition like this is exactly the same thing. You have to be first in line to choose the best song, everything. That's what winning is all about."

8. Listen to Simon.
"Make that your No. 1," Cowell says.

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