My American Idol 2 Auditionby Phil Kural -- 11/05/2002
Somewhere around two weeks ago, I was told by a friend that there would be tryouts to become the "Philadelphia Idol." The competition would be between 250 people, and this is how it would work. From the 250, it would then be narrowed down to 30 who would then have to go to another audition. Then from the 30, it would be narrowed down to 10 and then 25 regular people chosen randomly by Fox would pick the winner. The winner would win a new Ford Focus, as well as being flown out to Los Angeles to be the first person at the Los Angeles American Idol auditions to try out in front of Simon, Paula, and Randy. I figured I really had nothing to lose, and decided to do it. The first round of auditions, where the 250 were selected, occurred on November 1st. I was there, and here is my story:
The day before the auditions was a Thursday, which to me is Survivor night. A few friends had said to me several days before that I would have to get to the audition site the night before and sleep over. I was up for the idea, but was not crazy about sleeping in 35 degree weather, especially since I had never done that before. I figured the best thing to do was watch Survivor until 9 p.m. and then head out to the auditions. That plan seemed to work well because right after the show, I headed down to the bus terminal to get to the audition site. On my way there, I cannot count the number of phone calls I got from friends telling me good luck and keep warm. I was happy they were rooting me on, but a bit peeved that none of them would be crazy and sleep in the cold with me.
Well, I got there around 10:00 p.m. and let me say that my friends were right when they said I had to get there early. Apparently, there had been people there starting at 5 p.m.!! This, to me, is absurd. Anyway, I saw the line and took my place in it. At that point, I really did not think I was one of the 250, but figured I would get in line anyway and see what happened. Turned out I was somewhere in the range of 220-240. I was so excited to hear that, because I knew I would get my chance. The object of this audition was to sing a capella, any song of your choice, for 30 seconds. I chose "Build Me Up Buttercup" because it's my favorite bar song, and I can get down with it.
Let me just state what I brought with me to keep warm. I had layered up my clothing so that I was wearing four layers. This did not help after about two hours. I was freezing my behind off. I had brought an extra fleece sweater to use as a pillow, and an extra pull-over sweatshirt to lie on, but these were not helping either. Thank goodness the girl next to me brought about nine blankets, and let me use one. Since I'm on it, thank goodness she was there in general so that I had someone to talk too besides all my friends who were calling me every 10 minutes to make sure I did not die of hypothermia. Most people there had a tent and several even had air mattresses, which was definitely smart. I wish I had thought of that.
Now we get to the good part: me making fun of all the people who were there only for the fact that they needed attention, and could not sing a note to save their lives. There were girls there that I would say were around my age (21) trying to hit notes that only Mariah, Celine, or Whitney could hit. It really was a shame. It was good though, because many of the people that got irritated, or were trying to sleep, would scream to them to shut up, and tell them that they could not sing. These girls would not become discouraged, and would only shout things back like, "You just jealous," which made me swear at times that I was stuck on a syndicated episode of the Sally Jesse Raphael Show. Anyway, as the night went on, it only got colder, and people still practiced. There was no mystery to this competition because everyone knew the voice of everyone else by day break. Not mine though. I refused to sing anything until I was in the presence of the judges.
Another group of funny people there were the parents. It turned out that if you were between the ages of 16-18 then a parent had to accompany you to the audition. Some of these parents were more into this than the kids were. I remember one parent screaming at her daughter to "sing it again until she had it right." It was kind of disgusting. They were up until 5:00 a.m. singing "A Moment Like This." I will never forget that song in my life now. I found it a bit corny though, that she would sing the song that made Kelly Clarkson a hit. At least choose something original. Singing Kelly's song just screams, "I have no originality, and couldn't think of anything better." Oh well, how I suffer.
Then, around 7:00 a.m. sign-ups had started. I landed at 221, but I was fortunate enough to see someone I knew in the front of the line. She had asked me if I wanted to switch numbers with her, so she could size up the competition, and I wanted to go early anyway because I was tired and had to hand a paper in at school. Anyway, I switched with her, and I was now trying out third. The four judges for the competition were two of the guys from Boys II Men, some independent recording artist, and a record label owner who is based out of Philadelphia. I really don't remember their names, sorry. I did my song, got a wonderful, "That was great, NEXT!" out of the label owner, and I was on my way to school. I waited forever just to perform for 30 seconds and then be on my way.
After finding out my position, I did not make the top 30. I would be lying if I said I was not a bit disappointed, but I realized that apparently other people were better than I was, and I would hate it if I did get in the top 30 knowing that someone better than I was did not. Oh well, that's the breaks of show business. I did finish in 52nd place, which I guess is not too bad. The experience was awesome and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Just to meet some new people, and watch others get made fun of, made it all worthwhile. I look forward to American Idol 3, if there is one.
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