Tuesday, August 26, 2008

American Idle: The Sunscreen Corollary

American Idol; American Idle. See what I did there?

I should start from the beginning.

Do you remember that Baz Lurhmann song from the late 90s? It was a commencement speech he put to music, and it opened with the line: "Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of '99: wear sunscreen." He went on to espouse all the things you "need" to do in life, like live in New York once (check), live in California once (someday), and most importantly: do one thing every day that scares you.

If I may nerd out for just a brief interlude, that last line resounds in my head at least once per day, typically when I am doing something frightening, like flying US Air, or reaching under the sink for dishwasher detergent. (There was once a mouse under there, y'all. I was traumatized.)

Most days I ponder that sage advice, and admittedly I feel a small sense of accomplishment when I face down my fears, however inconsequential, and come out unscathed, primed to fight another day. It follows then, that when presented with seemingly insurmountable tasks, I head towards the challenge, steeling myself for whatever I might face. I give you: The Suncreen Corollary. The single driving force in your blog-mistress's world, as, well - many things scare me on a daily basis. Yet, thanks to my quaint theory, I always force myself to move. To get on with it. To give my fear the stink-eye and be done with it. Because I believe, thanks to The Suncreen Corollary, that somehow, facing down fear is making me stronger. More formidable.

To sum up: fear is my bitch, really.

You can be absolutely certain then, that I wouldn't have bothered to waste 14 hours of my precious life on an American Idol longshot, if the very idea of it didn't scare the bejesus out of me.

And so, Tina and I went, guns blazing, into the infinite abyss that is the American Idol audition process.

Internet, I beg you, if you ever deign to try-out, please, PRAY GOD, do not sing any of the following:
  1. I Have Nothing by Whitney Houston. If I heard one more diva warble "Dooonnnn'tttt. Maaakkkkeee. Meeeeee. CLOOOOOOOOSSSEEEEE ONE MORE DOOR!" I would have kidnapped dainty little Seacrest and held him for ransom. My ears are still bleeding, for the love of Pete.
  2. Anything by Alicia Keys, but particularly No One. Dudes, I can't even stand to hear Alicia shreik "NO ONE NO ONE NO ONNNNNNNNNNEEEEEEEEE".
  3. The Dreamgirls soundtrack. You can't imagine how many chicks were alone at a crossroads or telling me they weren't going.

The deal is, producers line up at 12 tables across the floor of the arena, and they see people in sections. If you are auditioning, you wait until your section is called (everyone was assigned a seat at registration). This gives you ample time (oh, 12 hours) to check out your competition. It's terribly interesting, and also incredibly boring, if this is possible. Auditioners approach the tables in groups of four, and each sing a cappella for 30 - 60 seconds.

The truth is, the producers know what they want. If you're crazy (hello puppet lady), well, we'll see you in the next round. If you are insanely talented, you are by no means guaranteed a spot. It depends on your look, your vibe, your charisma. Many times during the day the crowd angrily booed producers for cutting legitimate singers. But what can you do? It's a television show. It's a casting call, so you better be damn irresitible, lest you be cut.

Which brings me to my audition, at 5 PM. As I stood on the floor, my heart thudded loudly in my chest, and my palms started to sweat. Breathe, I told myself. Steel yourself.

And that's precisely what I did. I smiled at the young blonde producer and I began to sing. I chose "Take Me Or Leave Me" from Rent, because I work it out in the shower. My voice sounded strong and clear in my ears, and when I was done, I was proud of the performance I'd given.

Once our foursome finished, the kind-looking talent scout motioned for us to approach the table.

"You all look beautiful, and you all have great voices," she began in a clipped English accent. "You and you (HV and Tina) have great voices, but I think your performances were a bit too theatrical, and that's really not what we're looking for this season on the show."

Too theatrical?!? Moi? Old HV? That's shocking.

And with that, she cut us loose, and we went off with the rest of the "non-winners".

I mainly felt relieved to be heading home, and pleased that I'd conquered another one of my fears. And the feedback wasn't bad; I could live with "too theatrical".

The next morning, though, I awoke feeling vaguely disappointed. It was my last shot at AI, and it didn't work out. It's not that I thought I was going to be the next Fantasia Barrino. It's just... well, sometimes it's disheartening when you have to let a dream (however improbable) die. But isn't that what it's all about? Letting go of some of the old fantasies, and making room for some of the newer, more updated ones? I am sure there is totally a reality television show out there for me, like one about an adorable blonde girl who loves Queens and waxes poetic about life and 90s music and American Idol auditions?

On to the next thing.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Those producers are idiots.

I think you should try out for Survivor next.