After reading about my own American Idol audition experience, you may be interested to learn about the people I met that made it on TV. After I made it through first round at Birmingham (I approximated about 8000 people were at 1st round: Idol reported a conveniently larger/impressive 10,000) I came back 2 weeks later for Rounds 2 and 3 (Round 4 was in front of Simon, Randy, and Paula.) There were maybe 200 auditionees on my day (Friday) and so I'm guessing another 200 experienced Rounds 2 and 3 on Saturday. Round 2 was in front of Ken Warwick (the non-famous Executive Producer) and some producers, and Round 3 was in front of Nigel Lythgoe (the mean British judge from "So You Think You Can Dance?") and some Artist and Repertoire judges(?)
Of those 400 in Round 2 and 3, I'm guessing maybe 200 continued to Round 4. (I guess it was roughly evenly distributed with 100 on Day 1, with all 3 judges, and another 100 on Day 2 with just Simon and Randy.)
Of the 400 who made it past Round 1, maybe 8 had extensive TV appearances. (Like 30 made it on to Hollywood and were shown in montage for a second each. 15 from Day 1.) Of those 8 on TV, I met 4 of them. (I guess I just attract greatness or something. I'm guessing there were at least 200 people who didn't meet ANYBODY who got on TV.)
He wasn't really a contestant, but I met him outside the arena during Round 1. He congratulated me on my Golden Ticket. I thought, "Who is this guy?" When I got home, I read related "Birmingham Idol audition" articles, and realized he was the Mayor of Birmingham. That's why taxpayers spend money, to let the Mayor hang around American Idol auditions. It's a smart move on his part, associating with a popular show, makes him look good. And it shows he's "in touch" with youth. (Coincidently, youth who likes to vote...for pop stars at least.)
She sang "Unchained Melody"... badly. Her tempo was way too slow and boring. Paula felt the need to get up from her chair in shock. Erica sang a second song against the judges desires. Not much better. Erica brushed off her shoulder as she was leaving. Erica didn't sing that well, and wasn't portrayed as being exceptionally nice.
She had an annoying high pitched talking voice. Her singing was maybe mediocre. Randy said yes, Simon said no. Paula said Katie should "enjoy marriage" and not go to Hollywood. Katie got her husband, and there was some (fake) drama. Would Katie go to Hollywood? Paula said yes, to annoy Simon. Katie didn't sing "above average", but she seemed likeable enough. We didn't see much of her in Hollywood.
Seventeen year old girl who said American Idol was the most important thing in her life...so far. She had a lot of soul in her voice, and she sang with some good tone. I think she made it through. She seemed likeable, but I didn't like her song choice, it was too "old" for her. (a la "I'll never love again!") Still, she had potential. She didn't continue past Hollywood though.
An overweight girl with bad whitney Houston singing. She claimed people gave her standing ovations. She didn't sing well enough to advance (by a long shot).
A black guy singing a Michael Jackson song. Simon thought he had potential (?) Paula said he was off key. (Yes, he missed many notes, especially when doing vocal runs/trills.) Randy liked him because he said "Dawg." So he got to Hollywood, but we never heard of him again.
AKA "Big Bird" She was a large woman wearing a yellow feathering concoction. Simon described her as being an "Easter bunny nightmare" with "atrocious singing." Her singing wasn't more off than Bernard. But she was 26. (Really?) Okay, she admitted she was 50.
This was the girl with the "sob story." Simon asked "Tell us something interesting about yourself." She said, "I live with my grandmother." (Yawn) "And my daddy's paralyzed." Why? "He shot my step mother for sleeping with another man. And then he shot his self, like right here. (Points to her heart.) But it's okay."
Yeah, she really was that "blonde." ( When she said "But it's okay" I thought, "WhaTheFu?") In the waiting room she said to me "Your teeth are really white." Er, thanks. She was also astounded to find her "identical twin" in the waiting room. (They got along great, I guess they didn't realize that the twin was in fact their greatest competition- Idol couldn't have 2 blonde bombshells from the same city on TV). Jamie Lee got through to Hollywood, (I agreed with the judges that when her volume went up, her tone got worse.) In Hollywood, we saw her advance (and dance all happy when she advanced) until the "3 room cut." And we saw her reaction when she discovered her room didn't make the cut. I'd say she was likeable, and sang above average.
This is the "overweight white guy with an afro" who deadpanned that others think he looks like "Jack Osbourne", but he thinks he is "Christina Aguilera." He told the judges that he wanted "to make David Hasselhoff cry." The judges laughed. And then Simon was like, "I don't get it." (Then why did Simon laugh?) Evidently Mr. Hasselhoff cried at the climax of last Season's Idol.
Chris sang well enough to impress Paula. (I thought he enunciated the lyrics really well.) And he advanced to Hollywood. In Hollywood, his group included the "beat boxer" and they performed an acapella rendion of their song, which sounded quite cool (It needed a bass though.)
It turns out that me and Chris Sligh were "bladder buddies."
In Season 5 of Idol, there was Michael Sandecki, a Clay Aiken look-alike blamed his poor singing on his need to "pee." That made me laugh, until it was my turn. In the waiting room, they let have this giant water tank to hyrdate singer's vocal cords moist. So you drink. And you're nervous, so you drink a lot more. It adds up, and before you go before the judges you realize you've managed to drink 3 L of water over 3-4 hrs. (However, unlike Michael, I was smart enough to go (multiple times) before facing the judges.)
Chris Sligh had a similar issue. I met him in the men's room before Round 3 (facing the head judge and Ken Warwick). He asked me why I was dressed up like Zorro. I said I was the Darkwinner, and told him my "Golden Age" origin story. For Round 4 (facing Nigel), he was almost right beside me.
Turns out Chris and I both needed to pee again. But there was some strict camera guy (who regaled us with his story of how he shot Kellie Pickler roller skating and she almost smashed his lens). And I had to plead for bathroom privelages. ("Fine," he eventually allowed, "but if you miss your audition, you miss your audition.")
I also remember advising Chris he should take the opportunity as well, as he also guzzled 5-6 L of water between Rounds 3 and 4. I mentioned that he would look less bloated on camera with empty bladders. I believe he did use the restroom before facing Nigel. So if he ends up winning American Idol, he owes it all to me.
I also heard him say to his father that he got cut by Nigel in Memphis because he couldn't learn the "Elvis" song. (He lucked out in Birmingham, they had us learn "The Best" by Tina Turner but the Idol staff had sound playback issues, and so the judges didn't have us perform the song. Oddly, nobody noticed the lack of a singing montage during the televised Birmingham show.)
He didn't strike me as being the friendliest of people (but I wasn't super extroverted myself. When it's time to audition, I focus on the audition, not on making new friends.) It turns out we were both probably underestimating each other as "decidedly blooper reel." (Which is kind of amusing now that I look back on it.)
He was flashed on screen as an "I got the Hollywood Golden Ticket!" He was also beside Brandy as she was aping my Tai Chi moves (see below). He was in my row, and I heard him rehearsing "The Best" in the Men's Restroom. (Yeah, I spent a lot of time there...) He made it to Hollywood in a previous year, but got cut because he made "the wrong song choice." He sounded pleasant enough, but I didn't catch any super star quality in his voice. His Round 1 judge said to him "Finally someone who woke us up!" I'd be surprised if he made it to the Final 12, just because he had so little camera time during the audition show. (And he we didn't see more of him in Hollywood.)
And that was the end of day 1.
Day 2 was just Simon and Randy. They met:
She had long hair down to the ground. She sang like a Disney princess. I thought her vibrato was annoying, fast and fake. But she was a genuinely nice person. Simon thought only her mom would really lover her singing. She didn't make the cut.
She was just bad. A big mess. Simon said she had the "worst voice in Birmingham." Lakia said "Thank you." Which gave us a montage of people saying "Thank you" to rejection. (Mayhaps replacing the musical montage?) There was also a family support montage.
She was the girl who's mom told her in preschool that she "had no talent." (And her family chuckled in the background as she told the camera this story.) They told her she sang "through her nose."
This was the girl who blamed "the floor" for her poor vocal performance. Simon and Randy humored her and let her sing on the carpet. Simon said "That's was much better" and she believed him, until he revealed he was joking. She got all upset, Simon kept saying "Call me." She left, was talking to Ryan, and there was more "sparring" in the hall (and Simon tried to reenter the room via the "wrong door.")
My audition experience with her was as follows. At the start of the day, I was trying to figure out the interval for "The Best." I thought it was a major 5th, but it didn't sound quite right. (Hey, when you're under pressure to learn a song you've never heard before and are about to sing for broadcast before millions, you can make fun of my relative pitch, okay?) I asked Brandy if it was right, and she said "Yeah." I said no, it's not quite right, but she confirmed that it sounded good to her. I realized I was talking to genuine blooper reel material, and decided not to press the issue. (At some point, I'm going to write an essay about that decision (amongst other things) and post it to my webpage as "The Psycology of Reality TV auditions." I'm sure lots of folks are curious about what I learned from my experience.)
Brandy was in my row of chairs in the waiting room. I heard her say she was hungry. (The Idol staff doesn't tell auditionees when/if there would be a lunch break.) I offered her a power bar. (I came prepared.) I ended up feeding two rows of hungry auditionees (I had many power bars.) She was grateful. She said that now she would be "full of energy" for her audition before Nigel.
Before facing the judges, I decided to do some Tai Chi. Yes, it is a way to calm down, and it beats nervous frittering waiting for you chance to go in. But it was also part of my plan to get more camera time. It worked. I got filmed. And then the other auditionees started mimicking my moves, and they got filmed. They really aped it up for the camera. Brandy was having a great time. (You saw a genuine smile on TV, she was waving her arms around - that was footage resulting from my presence!) So yeah, they do use footage from Round 2 and 3 on Idol, and "imply" that it is from Round 4.
Anyway, I knew she was delusional and had no pitch sense, but seemed a enough nice person. But when I saw her on TV, I realized she was MUCH more delusional than I thought. Simon and Randy going into the hall after her did result in entertainment value, I'm betting that Nigel (the credited director for the Birmingham show in the opening credits) sent them after her just for "good TV." After all, why else would Simon and Randy leave the room, say hi, and then turn around and go right back into the SAME room for no apparent motivation?
And that was the end of the "Birmingham Auditions TV" epeisode. But the final audition show started with a Birmingham girl I talked to.
This was the girl who opened the last audition show (that they couldn't fit in anywhere else.) She was dressed in a corset, veil and gloves. Until I saw the show, I called her "all decades" chick, because evidently that was what was inspired her wardrobe choice.
She waited in line right behind me. We chatted (me in my mask, and her in her...er, outfit.) as we waited for the the Idol staff to let us in the hotel (again, they were "behind schedule".)
She seemed like a cool person, with a sunny view of the world. (The way she was portrayed upon meeting the judges was accurate.) The camera wasn't too kind to her. (Checkered pant bottoms, shimmying 2 inches from the camera lens, exaggerates the er, "wideness.") She also didn't seem delusional. I'm guessing she's a much better singer than what showed on camera. Maybe she just got nervous? She really did want to get to Hollywood though. And she was a fun supportive person to be around.
That's the end, I'll probably expand on this section in the future.
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