Tuesday, September 19, 2006

American Idol auditions

The Wanna-Carries
Key Arena, Seattle, WA

I figure that the best salve for missing American Idols Live! this year is to attend the Seattle stop of the American Idol 6 auditions. Well, "attend" inasmuch as I can hang around outside the smoking area talking to people. My friend Slick accompanies me today, and he is wearing fancy duds with the intention of blending in with the auditioners. However, we are both surprised to see the overall lack of care that these folks have put into their attire. Extra hair product does not equal dressing up, my friends.

The deal today is this: a zillion people, some of whom got in line yesterday morning, are assigned a contestant number and time to audition. They go in front of judges (not *the* judges) in groups of four, sing, and get either rejected on the spot or invited to come back tomorrow. A tiny fraction of people who get to come back tomorrow audition for the producers. If that goes well, they audition for Simon, Paula, and Randy. If THAT goes well, they go on to Hollywood for the semi-finals.

Amanda posesA press gal near me says that she and her camera guy have waited three hours to interview someone who makes it through to tomorrow's round. Fortunately, out comes Amanda from Spokane, all professional and unsurprised. Then comes Tony. They are both poised, articulate, well-dressed, and receive generous camera time by authorized media outlets. Slick and I get close enough for good shots and interview questions, but we are at risk since we're flying under the media radar. This place is teeming with security people and AI staffers whose job it is to shield the contestants from solicitors and unauthorized media people. (One tiny fib later: hello!)

Talking to all these happy and/or smoking people makes us long for a good old breakdown. We head around the corner to the Reject Gate. Most auditioners have a realistic perspective on this process and their chances here. We hear "well, it was a good experience," and "at least I got to see Seacrest" from teenagers lugging their lawn chairs and sleeping bags out to the bus stop. Very occasionally, though, a girl comes out of the gate crying, as she really TRULY thought she would be the next American Idol.

pounceeThe diligent security offered around the corner at Winner Gate is not available at Reject Gate. As soon as people come out of the arena, a big guy hands them a flyer for a recording studio. Then another group of guys pounce on anyone remotely emotional, give them lots of encouragement, and get them to sign up for "free" recording time at their studio (one of the guys has an airbrushed shirt that says "Pimps Up!").

Despite the creepy solicitors, the crowd back here is far more interesting. Desiree wears a costume to fit her song, which is "Hero" ("they told me I wasn't loud enough" she says). An example of people leaving the Reject Gate can be seen in this video. A pack of people take turns singing their songs, then harmonizing with each other as confirmation that the judges are idiots and that they really can sing. Also, being in this crowd gives us the temporary, refreshing, and false feeling that we live in City Of Diversity.

OwlOn our way out we stop and talk to Owl, who just made it through to the next round despite battling a sore throat. He has ginger root in his pocket and says he couldn't sing his song as of yesterday. He looks dazed and weirdly calm as he tells me that if he makes it, he's going to call himself American Idowl. I ask him if he's happy, and he says blandly "I'm so excited I can't believe it," while his eyes dart around looking for someone. "My mom is supposed to be here," he says, "I just want my mom." And right then I am Owl's #1 fan and I pray that he makes it beyond tomorrow. Oh how I love this show.

Fanalyst Rating

Fashion: **
Scene: ***
Band/Audience Rapport: n/a
Audience Focus: ****


Blogger Denise T said...

Thanks for the Seattle audition stuff. I just found this from a series of links about American Idol. Amanda is my daughter and your footage on YouTube is the first I've seen anywhere (so far) that shows her singing. Thanks for sharing.

Denise Tsubota

1:33 PM  

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