If you are like me, you’re a big fan of vocal competition shows. While some may not feel quite as fresh anymore (10 plus seasons can do that to a show), I’m still compelled to tune in and watch the many hopefuls give it their best shot. Admittedly, the tomfoolery that goes on in some cases is less appealing to me, but I understand that a lot of it makes for increased ratings, and I’m able to get past it to get to the talent. (Thank goodness for my DVR.) I also know that some of the back stories that unfold mid season are often the secret weapons that producers keep in their back pockets until the time is right to jump start their viewership and hopefully entice people to keep watching through the end of the season (case in point: a certain Jermaine Jones being disqualified from American Idol mid season… as if they hadn’t done a full background check before the show had aired?) But despite all that, I still tune in year after year.
Except this season.
Why, you ask? Well, it’s one thing to WATCH all the many aspiring singers bask in their 15 minutes of fame (which in some cases turns into a lifetime of success) and it’s another thing to BE one of them. Yeah, that’s right- I am one of the many thousands of people who actually went out and auditioned for one of these shows last year. The X Factor, to be exact. And although I’m told by many people that I have a beautiful singing voice, and that I have a good “look” for TV, somehow the producers of the show didn’t seem to think so. Actually, it was the one single producer whom I auditioned for, to be fair- but still.
Now, I’m not naive – I know that there’s a lot of talent out there, and I also know that there are a lot of factors that go into the casting decisions. After all, let’s not kid ourselves: this is more about casting for TV and less about talent, so I never thought I was a shoe-in. I didn’t exactly show up in an outlandish costume or have some crazy tear jerking back story to share, but I still thought it was worth a shot. And it wasn’t being rejected that turned me off about the whole thing, I’m pretty thick skinned as one must be in “the biz” – it was everything else about the process. For example, as I mentioned before, I sang for one single producer. Who knows what would have happened if I’d sung for someone else? How can one person be objective enough to listen and judge for a whole fleet of producers that run these shows? Also, I met several talented people throughout the process and we formed a little group. Out of the six of us, only one person made it through, and he happened to be the least talented vocalist among us and also physically the least attractive, to be blunt. But, he was a military man. Literally showed up to audition in his service uniform. See what I mean about “casting”? And it’s not like they hide it – I had a quick conversation with a PA right before I finally had my shot “behind the curtain” and she basically told me to contrive an outlandish story about myself if I wanted an actual shot. Really? So no matter how good I might have sounded basically didn’t matter, because I wasn’t some loose cannon who wouldn’t mind being made a complete fool of on national TV.
Last but not least, there’s the waiting. The countless hours of unnecessary waiting. It’s almost as if they intentionally have you sit around for hours on end just to discourage you to the point of defeat before you’ve even gotten your chance to sing for someone. It was a two day process, the first of which entailed a 5am wake up call, hours of standing out in the cold and rain, only to finally be let in and be handed a ticket for the actual audition the following day. When we finally got in, it took less than 5 minutes to be handed my ticket – so what was all the waiting for? It was beyond obvious that the waiting had been unnecessary. And on the audition day, I was seated in a section that was, no joke, the LAST section in the entire arena to be auditioned. And the first group to be auditioned? Immediately to our left. Talk about bad luck. I kept threatening to leave but then it would have made all the time I’d already put in a complete waste. So my new friends and I stuck it out. And all but one of us did the long walk of shame through the lower corridors of the arena leading to the “loser” exit.
After that whole experience, I’m a bit jaded about the whole thing. I’m convinced that all the people who actually make it in front of the actual judges are cast in completely closed auditions (and all the rest of us just make for great aerial crowd shots and general audition footage). Maybe that’s really pessimistic of me, but believe me, if you’d been through the experience you would probably agree.
Now it wasn’t all bad- I actually made new friends, and bonded with some fellow aspiring musicians which is always a good thing. But sadly, I can’t get myself to tune into some of my favorite shows. Or maybe it’s just too soon… perhaps by next season the wound will have fully healed and I’ll be back to rooting for my favorites.
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