In 2004 I was working as a tennis pro in Cleveland OH. On TV they announced they were having Idol auditions and had raised the age to 28 this year. This meant I was eligible again, and I even had that day off work. So I practiced a couple songs and decided on “Sweet Dreams” by the Eurythmics. I really didn’t think I had their kind of voice, but I thought it would be fun to at least see how it all worked. So I showed up at 4 AM to make sure I got a place in line.
There were thousands of people there all seated in the football stadium. As we waited for it to start and they set up tents on the field, it started to rain. So we kept having to go into the hallways and wait for the rain to let up. Everybody was walking around practicing their song. So many people were so serious and appeared to really think they were going to make it. So many were horrible, but some were absolutely amazing. It just all comes down to what Idol wants.
As this continued to happen over several hours, I would sleep with my head on a water bottle on the floor in the hall. And even though it was summer it was cold because of the rain, so I was freezing and thought about leaving several times but said “I’ve already waited this long”. So after 16 hours I finally got before a judge. It wasn’t Randy, Paula or Simon. But instead they have about 11 tents with 3 lines in each one with 20-30 people in each line.
When you get to the front you all three hand them your release and they point at you saying “go” and you start singing. Then whenever they feel like it they say “stop” (usually 10-15 secs). Then they point at the next person and say “go”. Then after the third one they have us step forward and if they want you then you get a yellow ticket, but if not they cut off your wristband and you’re done. If you did get the yellow ticket and move on to the next round, you came back again and audition for another group of judges. Then you would perform for the trio.
Now you’re probably wondering how do those horrible singers end up on the show. Well I’ll tell you my experience, I don’t know how. In my opinion they have to mark the contestants somehow and contact them after the fact (which they indicate is possible on the release). So when they are booted on the show they have been set up to believe they made it through several rounds of judges. That is why we get “they don’t know what they’re talking about” from those horrible singers. They’ve been built up for good television.
Anyway, by the time I sang my body was completely purple and I was freezing and all I wanted to do was get to my car and turn on the heat. But I was not going to miss out on singing for my audition. When it was my turn, I stepped up and sang my song the best I could and when we were done, his assistant cut off my wristband and that was the end of my American Idol Audition experience. Even though I didn’t get to be on the show, I gave it a shot and was worth it.