Monday, January 31, 2011

Nashville Auditions Recap

Nashville Auditions recap -

We start our auditions with Darius Thomas "let's see the highest note you can hit"  -- I'm not sure that asking a high school student to sing a high note and then laughing at him when he does is really THAT funny.  And, seriously, was the montage imploding buildings really necessary?

One positive thing about this, it brings our count to Steven Tyler songs: 0,  contestant songs: 0  - the first time the contestants have taken an early lead!

Then it's a quick recap of Nashville, you know, the usual "this city is famous for music" blah blah, of course we mention Carrie Underwood, blah blah-- I'm beginning to think there are Word documents on some Idol writer's laptop somewhere of pre-written intros that they just use depending on what city they're in.  Thank goodness tonight's show is only an hour long.

Pretty cool that the auditions are at the Grand Ole Opry- does that mean contestants get to say they once sang there?   Almost makes up for the lack of glass and water behind the judges that I'm so used to.

Christine McCaffrey is next interviewed and they're playing the "dum de-dum-dum dum" music in the background... you regulars know what I mean here.  Every sign points to her being "bad".   Crappy music, 5 minute interview with Seacrest, but there's no Blue Screen of Death... (read my previous audition post for recap on that theory).   Oh wait, there it is!  Theory still intact!  She seems sweet as can be, a dental assistant who likes saving puppies and chasing rainbows, or something like that.   Another behind the scenes insider moment-- I'm almost positive they are asking her leading questions here, "Why are you a superstar?"  "Why are you going to make the world a better place?"   Because I don't think ANYONE talks like that.  Or do they?   Maybe this girl really is nuts because she starts singing as soon as she walks in the door, including something that sounds like whale tracking sonar and is making my dog go INSANE.  She sings "I Hope You Dance"  and I'm thankful for another country song b/c ST is still silent. Randy is being exceptionally rude and she leaves, but not before they interrogate her about whether Steven Tyler said yes or no.

Chelsee Oaks & Rob Bolan come in next and they are exes who have been singing together since the day they met.  They're here even knowing they may accidentally run into each other at auditions, but, no big deal for them because they confess that they even lived together after they broke up.  Rob says that they aren't friends when asked, right in front of his ex-girlfriend, which leads me to believe that this is all for show (they are both professional singers knowing full well what this would do for their career if they got some screen time)--  there was no NEED to tell judges that they were exes because their last names are different, so because they volunteered that information, I'm pretty sure they are using it to their advantage here.  I feel like I'm watching a dating show at some point, or Judge Mathis...  would somebody please sing something? Finally the music comes and their duet is AMAZING--  I'm not sure picking a hopeless love song was a great choice given their situation, but their harmony and blend is absolutely ridiculous (in the best way).    They both have great voices separate and together and judges make a good point about them being able to hold up well emotionally (probably because that part was staged), but I'm okay with it because they are talented.  Of course "I need you now" is the exit music they play here, clever song choice of AI.    One of the most interesting things about this was when she came out of the room she went to the big crowd of people, he went alone to Seacrest.  Cameraman #2 picks up on new-boyfriend looks pissed.   Ha.  Maybe it's not fake after all.

I'm really liking this Nashville place and all this country music, because, it's an Idol first-- we're now at:
Steven Tyler songs:  0     Contestant songs: 4  (I'm counting the duet because you never know when ST will make a mad comeback!)

We're back, and it's 10:00am.  Why is it always so important to announce that it's 10:00am?

We now have a girl with a bow on her butt, a girl who can do freaky things with her tongue (and our first ST flirting of the day, including him making some weird animal noises), and a biker/cow-herder/tattoo-artist/cowboy?  Allen Lewis.  This guy is cool because he reminds me of Willie Nelson 80 years ago and before the drugs.  Seacrest makes some joke about him being a pop singer.  Ha.  Stay out of it, Seacrest.    He makes a STism about Vanilla and Chocolate ice cream. He refuses to stop singing but isn't that bad.  Not great, but not bad.  Lots of power and enthusiasm, my friends would love him at our weekly rock and roll karaoke night. Allen is not through and he gives us this heart-wrenching speech about living your dreams, and everyone gets turned down, etc.  It's half motivational and half bizarre.  Maybe he's Willie Nelson after the drugs.  On his way out we see him high-five another contestant who's waiting in the area between the curtains.  I wrote about this in "The Truth About American Idol auditions"  blog  (if you haven't read it you should)-  so it's nice to get a visual of it here for you guys.  If you want to go back to that point it's at the 17 minute mark of this episode.  As they walk out you see the big heavy black curtain (that I also blogged about)... Nashville is providing some awesome exhibits for me here (one of the few good things about this episode so far, other than that it's only an hour).

ST songs: 0  (he's got to be sick or something)   Contestant songs: 5

Our next contestant is gorgeous, young, sweet, Miss Teen USA 2009, and looks great in a bikini.  Of course she's good.... talented people have everything.  We'll probably hear that she's rich next, too.  Or works at the White House.  Or something.  Oh and her name is Stormi.  You've got to be kidding me. I want a cool name with an i on the end!  Stormi Henley sings "Father can you hear me?" and it's not bad, as expected.  Not awesome, but she's beautiful, so I'm sure she's through with flying colors.  ST makes some kind of comment about her voice being "squeaky and tight"  and asks her if she's "ridden it harder"  or "let it loose" and I suddenly get the feeling we're not talking about her voice anymore!  EW, ST.  Can you be less obvious?  ST likes her (duh),  JLo turns her down (good for you), and I'm sure Randy will let her through.   He says it's just okay and she decides to play a game of peek-a-boo with him.  I'm not kidding.  What an interesting way to get through... I think it's an Idol first.

ST songs: 0  (he's got to be sick or something)   Contestant songs: 6

Back from break and we're informed of their second favorite time, 4:00pm.   So we've only seen 5 interesting contestants in the last 5 hours?   I guess that's on track with the television show though, we're about 22 minutes in and have we really seen anybody that interesting yet?

We get a montage of 3 failed contestants, and you don't even see why they failed which is super un-interesting.  They even show one girl crying but didn't show not even one second of her audition.  LAME.  There's some guy dressed like Cruella De Vil meets Darth Vader, and they don't comment on that either.  Why show people for a tenth of a second and not elaborate?  They must be trying to set us up for some special outtakes episode or online-only "see what you missed from tonight's episode here"  thing.  Wouldn't surprise me.  Tricky Idol producers!

Next we have a girl who lives on a farm, Adrienne Beasley. Her parents look nothing like her, they're playing cute country music (not that dum dee dum dum stuff), so you know she's going to be good.  Let me go get my kleenex to prepare for this sob story.  This is pretty interesting though because not only is she African-American (parents are white) but they're also country and very very old.  That's pretty cool, I guess.  And she sings country but has a very soulful voice.  That makes her very interesting and combined with the backstory, she's Idol gold.  And seems like a genuinely good person.  I like this girl.  Judges like her too and she's of course through.  She makes the standard call to a parent who's not there, and he's so cute... the old country dude wants to know who's paying her way.  He also says that "he's tickled"  which makes me let out an "aww" out loud.


ST songs: 0  (LOVING this country thing!  Or maybe a producer gave him a talking to after last time.  Maybe my blog did it. Who knows.)   Contestant songs: 7

It's Day 2 and we see more about Nashville and more about auditions.  All of the judges are in standard black and white again (not even any good outfits today? Come on!)

Our first contestant of the day is a girl who talks about how she grew up singing and has all of these titles, including "Junior Regional Soloist" or something like that.  She doesn't sound crazy and I actually think she's going to be amazing.  But, uh oh.... she's in front of the "Blue Screen of Death" -- will my theory pan out?    Blue Screen of Death = bad.  Let's find out.  She still sounds pretty competent when talking about people's reactions to her voice, a little cocky, but nothing we haven't seen before from a good contestant (Paris Bennett anyone?) so I'm beginning to wonder if I'm perhaps wrong.  Kameela Merricks busts out an absolutely awful version of Chaka Khan, and I realize that my theory does indeed hold water.  Randy continues on his rude streak, JLo is being kind of snotty today too, I've noticed, and ST is really nice and out of character.  And still no singing!


ST songs: 0  (he's got to be sick or something)   Contestant songs: 8

Here comes the hour 2 set of rejections:  a guy dressed like a Blue Man who's name is displayed as ?  (mention note to self, if you don't want your name publicized when you audition this is the way to go!) singing A Moment Like This,  foreign beauty Polina Kozhikovasinging "I will survive", Patrick Counts singing an undeterminable country song (I don't really listen to country though, in his defense), still no singing from ST but he puts his hands on his throat-- maybe he's got a sore throat.   Aww, poor Patrick breaks down crying outside and they play some old sad song from some movie where a cowboy must have just lost his horse.   Now the crying montages:  lots of people crying, walking to their cars, some shooting the bird, but once again-- some of these people are on the street or in the PARKING LOT so who knows how long the cameras have been following them for?  (Again, read my earlier blog if you haven't already). 

ST songs:  0,  Contestant songs:  11  (I'm now bored with this game... thanks for ruining the fun whoever put a lid on Steven Tyler!  Guess they're getting ready for the live shows, he hasn't cursed once this whole episode either)   We finally had a judge who wasn't boring and now this.  Great. Just great.

Are we seriously only 36 minutes through this episode?   I'm about to start crying!

Jackie Wilson has the jitters (and is wearing the most casual outfit I have ever seen from ANY auditioner, with the exception of my beloved "Brick" from New Orleans auditions), but she can sing and has a great voice.  Randy joins in with drumming.  Still no musical action from ST.  Can't wait until the next audition to see if he's back to "normal."   The judges clap after Jackie's audition and it's well deserved. Three happy judges and she's through.  Please get a shorter top and longer skirt next time Jackie.  I say it because I really like you.  Oh, and by the way, as for the old woman and old man waiting for her outside -- she made out with the old man when she came out, guess that wasn't her dad- we hope!

We're back and the first thing we see is a girl in an evening gown.  She's a self-described recording artist and the way she's posing, I already know where this is going.  But no blue screen of death?  So sad.  Maybe her dress being the exact same color wasn't good for the Blue Screen of Death.  Or maybe my theory isn't correct.  So far though, I have yet to see a good contestant appear before the Blue Screen of Death.   And that radio kid from last time didn't go before the screen-- I guess if you're really exceptionally strange, they let you walk around and explore the land with Seacrest.  She goes into see the judges and I love that she only has one cd for the three of them.  Hilarious. Latoya "Younique" Moore singing crazily and flails her cd to boot while she performs.  I don't feel sorry for this one because she gave herself a nickname.  A mis-spelled nickname to boot.  Randy tells her she's annoying (look who's talking!)  and they make a big deal of her number falling off (I don't know how that happened, I had the worst time getting mine off afterwards).  She walks out of the room still singing.

Now for some good guys: Paul McDonald does a great Rod Stewart, Jimmie Allen is precious, and full-of-energy with a golden voice,Danny Pate is good (even though he's a ST suckup).... oh, but he got ST (and Randy) to join in singing!   Wow!  +5 for that!   Jennifer Lopez gives him a "cheerleader yes" and he calls her Selena.  +10!   All three of these boys are through and Danny Pate might be one of my new favorites.. based purely on personality.

ST songs: 1  Contestant songs: 16

Matt Dillard comes next and they are playing "Falling Slowly", which loosely translates into:  there's no way this kid will be cut. Ever.   Video montage of hundreds of foster children confirms that.  Great story though, genuinely nice guy.  Looks like a John Deere poster boy, but sings... Josh Groban?  Ha!   He's not great but has a good tone and isn't bad.  He looks nervous in his cowboy hat and overalls, but he's got a golden guitar pick hanging around his neck so that gives him some instant credibility.  He says he can "pretty up". The boys say yes (JLo says no) and he's through.

We're almost done and they show us the auditorium filled with people with camera/phones swaying them in the dark.  They did this in New Orleans too, and it's a cool effect, but they've shown it on every audition.  Boring.   We're about to see the "best contestant ever"  according to the last 55 minutes and all of the previews/commercials.  Honestly I wish they would just let us decide that for ourselves- they KNOW we are going to stay tuned to see who is in the coveted "last spot of the day" -- it kind of ruins the Susan Boyle type surprises when they... well, that's not true, the video montage would have given it away.   We see Lauren Alaina who is a cute little Kellie Pickler type.  She's also 15, so she of course must be jaw-droppingly incredible because she's a 15 year old in the last spot.  She's got a cousin who has a brain tumor that she looks up to - we see a lot of "this is how good I am because I had a fundraiser for my cousin"  kind of stuff... I hate when they do this-  rather than let it come out throughout the course of the show they almost make me dislike a person I would have otherwise loved with forcing how great they are down my throat.  But overall, I really like this one, she seems like a nice kid. 
She walks in and ST is singing her name in Hey Jude for no reason. Awesome way to up my counts at the last minute, ST!  Lauren is dressed like a Lisa Frank factory just blew up but she's cute despite all of that.  Doesn't really look 15 at all, but I guess it's true.   Lauren is as good as promised and she's one to watch.  Has a big star personality too.    Kid brings her family in and does a duet with Steven Tyler (I think she may have sung his song way better than he did, in fact!) Glad these auditions ended on a high note (pun intended!).

Final counts:
# of ST songs: 3
# of contestant songs: 19
# of ST flirting attempts:  3
# of ST isms: 0 

Please comment if you have something to add, and stay tuned for the next blog.  It will be after the next set of auditions, if not before!   

Until then,
Maria Saint

Friday, January 28, 2011

Show Recap 1/26/11 - Milwaukee Auditions

  I've been encouraged to start blogging auditions by some of my readers (If you haven't checked out the recaps at http://www.topidolblog.com/  you absolutely should get over there ASAP).   So, even if the "truth about american Idol" posts come down, those should stay up.  Here's the first one, enjoy!
1/26/11 - American Idol Recap by Maria Saint

Show begins and apparently it's 8:45 in Milwaukee on 10/2/2010... I don't believe that for one minute.  One, we already know that the judges weren't actually there on 10/2, and more importantly, I don't think Steven Tyler has ever been up that early in his entire rockstar life, but I digress.   They are singing an Aerosmith song.  Imagine that.   ST is as rocked out as usual, and Randy is wearing some crazy sweatshirt that seems to be telling us goodbye while smiling at us.  Is that a preview of what he's about to do to contestants in this city?

The new intro starts and EVERY time I see it I think I've accidentally changed the channel to Entertainment Tonight.  What is up with it anyway?  We see the typical crowd shots, the famous local celebrity (Danny Gokey), and a really good view of the wristband line.   I love J-Lo's outfit too, even though I don't quite understand what it is.  As the judges wait to go in, we get our first Steven Tylerism & ST curse word in the same sentence!  Impressive. It was something about slapping babies on the backside, although he didn't say it as nicely and he was very Billy Ray Cyrus for a second.

Auditions today are at the Milwaukee Art Museum.  I'm not surprised at all by the location-- I think there is an AI rule that the judges need to be in front of a big wall of glass in front of a large body of water.  Is this so they have somewhere to jump if it gets too crazy in there?   ST sings (or shouts) a little, and here's the count so far:

Number of times Steven Tyler has sung:  2                          Number of times contestants have sung:  0

There are more people from outside of Wisconsin that actually came from there, but that seems to be the deal with all of the audition sites so far.

Scotty McCreery is the first contestant of the day and he's a cute kid.  Reminds me of the boy Ben that used to be on that Bravo Model show (http://www.bravotv.com/make-me-a-supermodel/bio/ben-dichiara) combined with the MAD comic book character.   He's described as the All-American boy, and his baseball coach speaks, which tells us he's of course going to be good,  He's a sweet kid, sings country, and has sang his whole life.   As he sings Bye Baby Bunting, someone screams some AWFUL scream in the background-- did anyone else hear that?  Scotty sings country and for once Steven Tyler is silent.  Fantastic!  Bring on the country singers.    His voice is surprisingly low and he made J.Lo smile.   ST asks for something more modern, he sings more country and allows Randy to talk about something he produced.
Uh oh, time for STism #2 and ST curse word #2.... something about having sex with ducks.     Interesting note here is that the camera men cannot keep their laughter in so they are forced to pan out and show you how many people are in that room.  Scotty tells us he hears cursing in high school a lot, they let him through, and we move on.

It's 10 am and apparently auditions are off to a strong start although we have only seen 1 person.  Another shot of the crowd and the city news, radio, and cameras.  Here comes Joe Repka, high fiving everyone.   I already know they are setting him up because they've taken him outside to have a private chat with Seacrest.  Something about he wants to be in radio.  Those are good aspirations, and he seems like a nice enough kid.  Seacrest makes him say a radio call about 100 times, and he seems to be taking it in good stride.  They show a clip about how he says "I seem to be doing that a lot"  --  but I'm not convinced it was in regards to talking like a radio announcer.   And here's a note to you, kids:   If Seacrest spends more than 5 minutes with you before it's your turn to go in, it cannot be good.  Remember that.  They then show Joe dancing in a room with a blue AI logo.

I have a new theory, dear readers, allow me to test it out on you tonight.  For the past few episodes, I've been noticing that lots of one camera interviews are being done, without Seacrest present, of contestants that are about to go in the room.  Two differences here-- one, some people's videos are long and continuous and unedited, while other people's looked chopped together.  I have noticed that the long and continuous, open-ended talking videos are of "good" contestants, and the choppy videos are of "bad contestants."  I have also noticed that the "bad" contestants generally appear to be in front of a blue screen with AI on it, while good contestants tend to be in a white room, or in another location all-together (but usually the white room).   I am not sure if this blue screen is a private room somewhere in the audition site, or a background edited in later, but for now I will call it the "Blue Screen of Death".   My hypothesis is that any time you see a contestant in front of this blue screen, they will be portrayed badly.  Let's see if this pans out. Back to Joe Repka.  He doesn't do well, shocker, but he does diss Seacrest by saying he doesn't listen to his radio program.  He sings some Billy Joel and ST of course joins in.    The count is now:

# of ST songs:   3    # of contestant songs: 1

Joe fires back with a "I can't help falling in love",  upping the contestant count, but ST joins in as well!

ST songs: 4   Contestant Songs:  2

Joe exits, is very good-natured, and gives another call out.  Good for him.  I hope he gets a radio job.

Next up is the cheesiest segue of all time about radio, and then radio in cars, and then 15 year old Emma Henry.  She reminds me of a really young Lindsey Lohan.  We see some long tape about how she just learned how to drive (was it a slow news day?  I don't remember how "driving" is something no other contestant has done before).   She's got a great raspy tone to her voice and is different, sings a Cyndi Lauper song that's perfect for her. I like her, the judges think she will get eaten up in Hollywood.  I'm just happy ST doesn't know any Cyndi Lauper.   They let her through. Nothing else significant here except that she cried her eyes out, kind of proving the point about her getting eaten up.

ST songs: 4   Contestant songs: 3

Back inside we have 4 contestants all pieced together which is usually an indication that they are all going to be awful, and they are.  I'm really surprised by the amount of guys singing Gaga, and even more surprised that they all seem to have the same hand movements and dancing.  Not sure if they are moves from a Gaga video, or if this frantic dancing/clapping is encouraged by producers.   Ironic that all guys singing Gaga feel the need to dance, although maybe not.   They are all terrible and none of them get through.  There's really nothing funny or interesting here, except:

ST songs:  4    Contestant songs:  7   (making a mad comeback!)

One contestant asks for a sip of Randy's coke.  Randy tells him to go get some Coke Zero outside.

Naima Adedapo is a janitorial worker at Summerfest, is very Rasta looking (colorful jewelry, red/yellow/green, dreads) with 2 beautiful girls.  She's original and with a great voice.  The judges love her.  I think she's really talented, but isn't really anything I've seen before.  Definitely talented enough where she doesn't need to be a janitor.   Randy loves her colors and all of the judges love her.  She sings Donnie Hathaway (another one ST doesn't know). 

Back from break and I get a closer look at Jennifer's outfit, although I still can't figure out what it is. I love the pink and silver combination, am just unsure about whether it's a frilly vest, or who knows.  But I don't have the time to deliberate that right now. The cameras are zooming around the audition space, and we see people doing limbo with a giant toothbrush (?!?!)  and then someone doing gymnastics down a hallway accidentally landing on someone's face/chest.  Who gave the guy on the floor that camera to hold? Someone wanted the shot and then asked a poor contestant to lie there and get it for him? And you know they had done that a few times before they actually rolled tape.  I feel sorry for the guys but neither of them seem hurt so we move on.

A bad Jenny on the Block, the owner of the giant toothbrush, (a 54 year old dentist-- I hope he got his business out there),  and now a Barmitzvah singer, Jerome Bell.   Who's got a really big voice.  Almost too big.  It was very very loud and abrasive to me, but nice tone and great sound.  Just overly amplified to me.  I guess those Barmitzvah kids are usually really loud.   ST does his crazy rabbit-face dance,  JLo describes him as "loud, soft, sweet, powerful..."   I thought those words were contradictory, but I guess everyone's entitled to a Paula-ism now and then.  Jerome is through and everyone is happy. 

This brings the total to ST  4  C  11... it almost seems like the show is finally about other people singing!

The next few minutes were about Seacrest trying to explain Bieber fever, I wasn't even listening.  Then we see a precious little 5 year old singing.   I dont' really care because it brings the total up to

ST 4  C 12

Apparently Bieber fever was to explain 15 year olds and we get our next contestant, Theia Megia.  Song is Chasing Pavements by Adele and her voice is extremely mature for a 30 year old, much less a 15 year old... and strange, but in a good way.  The judges seem as confused by it as me and they love it as well.  Steven makes a comment about how he loves the heat "down there"  and I'm really hoping he's thinking about the correct diaphragm.   He then finds an excuse to sing something that doesn't even make sense, so we have

ST 5  C 12

Theia is through with all 3 judges saying yes and all of the other 15 year olds get through as well.  This is positive, this means they aren't purposely trying to humiliate 15 year olds.  They only let the good 15 year olds through to the last round.  Producers earn 1 heart point, and they pan to the obligatory boat sailing on the lake behind the glass behind the judges.

Next up is Nathaniel Jones, a civil war re-enactor.  They are playing ridiculous music so I automatically know where this is going.  They show him running and screaming which I'm also pretty sure re-enactors don't do, and oh, here's Secreast with him for 5 minutes.  Great.  The positive part of this is Nathaniel screaming "Don't try me, man!!!!"  at Seacrest.  Ha.   Oh, and the quote of the evening: "Hippies believe in sex!"  Nathaniel sings the Lion Sleeps Tonight and I really don't see THAT big of a problem with it, I have to admit.  It's super high in key, but all the pitches seem correct and it actually sounds to me exactly like the recording, but I think he killed it with the sex talk and war outfit.   Plus, NOBODY talks to Ryan Seacrest that way!  Nathaniel "becomes another casualty of the day"--- oh Seacrest, you are so witty!

Mason Wilkinson comes in and needs to turn around and compose himself, probably because his feet aren't in the right place on the Idol emblem (either side of the o).  He turns around, gets it right, and starts singing a song I've never heard of.  On the bright side, ST hasn't heard it either.  Randy laughs.  Awkward silence.  Judges vote no. 

ST 5  C 13

Then we have Molly De-Wolf Swenson... graduated from Harvard and has a random White House internship. Nice to know people can "randomly" get jobs at the White House.  She gives an interview and no blue screen so we seem to be good (although they do take her picture in front of it).  She's also giving long ended sentences so she should be good.   Ha, turns out Randy punched her in the face-- hilarious.  We also see the back of his ridiculous jacket-- it's telling us to study about organic.  Will have to look that up later.  She corrects Randy and slips in that she graduated from Harvard and works at the White House so she's obviously proud, maybe a little too proud but she can sing.   She's got good range, and it was a decently interesting arrangement.  Not one I've heard before.  We hear a bunch of contestants screaming during this, not sure if they heard her singing or not.  (It seems that they have monitors outside this year, but not confirmed).  They let out screams though about a full minute after she ended though so not sure what that is all about. Judges vote, and she's through.  I'm left asking the question I have been asking a lot lately-- why are some people super talented at EVERYTHING and others have what seems like zero gifts?     Harvard, White House, pretty, good voice.  So unfair.   But I digress again and Day 1 is over.  

Day 1 Homework:  Find out what Study About Organic means...   The only thing I can find is about a company called Adios (which makes sense given the front of his jacket)  and their studies on organic food products... there isn't too much about it except on a food gossip sites, all written this week, none mention Randy Jackson.  He's a big proponent of eating health food though so I guess it makes sense.  Here's one of the few links I found if you're interested.  http://gossipblower.com/2011/01/26/a-healthier-much-more-confident-you-with-adios-and-adios-max/

A ton of commercials more and it now seems like 4 hours from when I started watching this show (and probably feels like 6 hours since you started reading this blog!)  Why is the New Orleans episode (the only one I really cared about) 1 hour, and the rest seem like they take infinity and beyond.  ST looks ridiculous as always, JL as chic, and Randy's just a dawg.   We show the arena again like it's the next day even though we know it's really 10am the day before.   One kid sings the Lion King intro though so I guess it's worth it.   Wow, under JLo's chic coat she's got the cutest little top with a Treble Clef on it.  With Randy's initial sweater on I'd feel like I were in the 50s if it weren't for ST's crazy 70s ensemble.  

First up is Hailey Reinhart. She's super talented but I see why she didn't make it last time.  She's putting EVERYTHING she's got in there... so many loops and trills and ups and downs that I feel like I do when I puke on rollercoasters, but it was impressive.  She's through and she's excited.  She runs back to show all of the other contestants.  Just in case they didn't see it her Dad lifts her up.
ST curses AND sings, bringing our count up to

ST 6  C 13

Next is someone named Tiwan Strong.  He seems kind of crazy, but no blue screen of death, so I'm having good thoughts.  He is great.  Kind of just like everyone else who sings 50s and 60s music (Twisting the Night Away is his song)  but it's positive.  I also like his entirely white ensemble.   ST likes him, Randy likes him, JLo said he did a really good job.  He's through and his family is super excited-- a bunch of screaming women!   They practically maul him and it's actually a really cute scene.  One of the ladies gets a Charlie Horse, the other starts doing some crazy dancing and kicking. Seacrest is left holding the charlie horse lady which is hysterical as he tiries to figure out what to do and then gives her a leg massage.  I wish I had a picture of that scene of them both bent over to photoshop. Seacrest gives her some lame advise about drinking plenty of water and we move on.

ST 6  C 14

Next, Steve Beghun (pronounced "big goon"), a CPA.  I guess he's playing hooky so they make a big deal out of it and he seems super boring and says he has no friends.   He has the white screen behind him though so it looks good (my theory is holding up so far).  He seems like a dork as he can't open the door and makes a bad joke about his name.  His voice SHOCKS me.  It's half country, half pop with a really sweet tone.   He's through and has like 6 people with him... I thought he didn't have any friends?  They are all wearing primary colors!    He goes back into the tent also to show the contestants his golden ticket.  I can't say I wouldn't do the same thing.

ST 6 C 15

Next up is Vernika Patterson singing Loving You and she's been challenged to see if she can make it a 4 for 4 streak for contestants, so there's already a pretty good idea of where this is going.   It starts not bad but then she stops.  She re-starts, changes keys, changes again halfway through, and yet again in the lalalas until she gets to the right one but still can't hit the high note.   I don't know GREAT singers that can sing this song, I don't know why anyone would pick it for an audition. They tell her no and she appears to give instant attitude, but we don't know what happens so I'll give her the benefit of the doubt.  I hear another massive scream from the other contestants and I finally figure out that it's the reaction to the other contestants with the yellow tickets running back into the staging area.     Vernika picks up her things to leave, her mom or whoever wants her to stay to give the exit interview, she tries to escape the other way and there's a cameraperson waiting for her on the other side of the glass door.  Ha!  American Idol 1 Vernika 0.   Oh, and speaking of counts, it's now:

ST 6  C 16...  (i was really getting worried for awhile when ST had half as many singing moments as contestants)

Montage of people crying and screaming, many of them are followed all the way to the parking lot and saying get away from me, get the camera away, some hit the camera but all 3 of those people were outside so who knows how long they had been followed at that point. Sigh. 

Back inside, we have a Barack Obama impersonator, but he really seems like  a Kenan Thompson impersonator.   Name is Albert Rogers III.  Then comes something about fudge and Eleanor Rigby  making for the 3rd ST ism of the day.  Randy was rude, he thought it was terrible and a joke. All 3 judges say no, and he's gone.  They show him against the Blue Screen of Death and he gives a nice little speech.

Scott Dangerfield is next and ST accuses him of wearing lipstick, to which he says he was kissing one of the girls outside.  "Fell in love in the Idol line" is discussed as a possible song...  he's a cutie, oh and crap, now ST is singing again.   Scott sings and his voice is amazing... this kid gets laid a LOT, I bet.  If he doesn't, he will. He sort of reminds me of Clay Aiken but with way more game.  Even his posture seems "I am sexy and awesome."  Ha.  He explodes into the tent and a loud scream erupts.  We're now to

ST 7  C 17

Next we meet a girl who is obsessed with Green Bay Packers, yet she is wearing a shirt with American Flags on it--  nothing about her screams Green bay actually, except for the accent.   I guarantee you they urged her to run around and do the wave, high fives, lead the cheers, etc.  The crowd went with it too so they didn't think it was that weird at the time.   But she's billed as the most annoying girl ever. Megan Frazier.  She's beautiful and I love her energy..   her notes are on and she actually has a pretty good opera voice.  I am really wondering if she's been put up to this. I bet she has.   I'd bet money on it.  Opear is playing in the background as she walks out, I wonder if it's her singing or not.  And who can blame her fandom, after all, her team IS going to the Superbowl!

ST 7 C 18

Time for our first rock and roll chick, Alyson Jados.  so far she cries and freaks out a lot.  ST is mesmorized by her.  He immediately says she looks like she could be one of his ____.   Thankfully he didn't finish the sentence.  He starts talking in a smoky voice.. "tell me about yourself."  -- his next question is "what are you into"  and covers it up with "...to sing?"   then she confesses she's an Aerosmith groupie.  Great. I hope someone rented Alyson Jados a hotel room for tonight. I also hope she's okay with listening to ST sing every 5 minutes.  She's great though.   I don't know how ST didn't sing along or drum to this one!   Finally ST picks up singing with her, they vote and here's another observation about this season, the judges vote in different order each time and sometimes vote no on purpose to give whoever likes the contestant the most the deciding "yes" vote.

ST 8  C 18

Back from the break and they sit us through repeats of all of the people that have been through before.  Didn't we just see this an hour ago?

Finally up is Chris Medina who has a story that can top even Danny Gokey's.  His financee Juliana was in a terriblle car accident just 2 months before their supposed-to-be wedding.  Beautiful girl.  Now she's brain damaged and has been that way for over a year and a half and he has been her primary caregiver since then.  He sings Break Even which is a great choice.  He's good but not great but his story and soul come through in every note.   After his touching performance they bring Juliana in and even I'm shocked by how bad her condition seems.   There is a big party with judges and family.   Note for auditioners #3, if you'er ever an Idol contestant and you're saved for last- that's also a great sign :)

Homework #2:  research this story further.  I found a website where Chris is trying to raise $8000.00 for an experimental procedure that is not covered by insurance --  as of last night he surassed that mark with a bunch of $25 paypal donations, probably from Idol viewers...   if you'd like to visit the site, here it is:  http://www.laurusfoundation.org/help-juliana-ramos.php    -- Last night, this site was at $9250, now it's over $22,000!   Wow for the power of television.

That's it folks.  Sorry it's so long.  These shows need to be shorter!
Here's our final count:

Steven Tyler Isms:  3
Steven Tyler Obscenities:  2
Steven Tyler Songs:  8  (almost 1/3 of the total # of songs of the day!)
Contestant Songs:  18
# of Contestants Steven Tyler Hit On: surprsingly, 1
J-Lo Cute Outfits:  2
Randy Self-Promotion:  1
Contestants in 2 hours:  18.   About 1 every 7 minutes.


Also remember,  Seacrest interview before:  bad,  blue screen of death:  bad, white screen:  good, camera-man interview before at your house: good,  football/baseball coach interview: good, last auditioner of the day: good.

xoxo,
Maria Saint 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Two polls...

1)  Am considering quitting my day job and become a writer.    Good move, or bad move?
           What other Idol topics would you like to see covered?  What other non-Idol topics interest you?

2)  Am considering putting up audio only of my audition pieces.  How do y'all feel about that?  You've shared so much with me, I really want to share more with you!

Monday, January 24, 2011

We're not going anywhere yet.

Previously, I said Goodbye.  I thought it was about time for this blog to hit to road.  It's been a pleasure writing it,  I've saved it all for my personal journal to look back on and show my grandchildren in many years, and eventually I will pull it down, but not yet.

To all of you who read the blog:  THANK YOU.   I only meant it to be for my friends and a few others, and believe me when I say, I never thought more than 200 people would come here.  It's been about 2000 a day.

To all of you who still think I'm lying:  To each his own.  You're entitled to your own beliefs.  I ask you two things,  1) To keep an open mind in the future when watching AI (or any reality show for that matter), and 2)  Not to be so harsh when laughing at the rejects.  It takes a lot of guts to do something like that and as you've probably guessed from what I've told you, what you see is not always what it seems.

To those of you who e-mailed or commented that you enjoyed my writing style or my content:  I very much appreciate that.  I'm pretty sure all of you came here for the content and the popularity of the show, and not necessarily the writing, but I'm hoping that's what kept you here.  I am looking for a freelance blogging and/or writing job, so if anyone is looking for one, e-mail me at the truedat504@gmail.com e-mail address.

I hate surprises and goodbyes, so I'll keep this up for another ?? approximately. (There have been lots of consults with legal people and things like that which made me scared and made me decide to take it down... I still WILL, but we are so close to 10,000 views, and it's not even been up a full week, so I think maybe it should stay up at least until Thursday.)  So, for those of you who were planning on suing me- you can rest easy after that... please just give the readers that long to read it.  If you know anyone who still needs to read this, please send them here in a hurry.  Update: 10,000 hits in 7 days.  Thanks everyone!  That's a huge deal to me... I'm so happy that so many read and enjoyed this blog.

Until next time...   I have compiled this list of a few websites I think you should check out.  They have nothing to do with American Idol, but they are all very deserving of you reading them.  I've included a link and a brief description for all of them.    I figured I could at least leave you with some good reading material.  I may write on one of them, (coughmailcough) I may not.. ;)   If you like my writing style though and what I have to say, check them all out!

Websites I think are awesome:

Tiny Dolls - really cute graphics and quotes... a ton a day  http://tinydolls.tumblr.com/
Mail to Males - real girls' true letters to real boys... they are hilarious!  http://mailtomales.tumblr.com/
Designs of Tumblr - graphic design, jewelry, all sorts of crafty stuff  http://designsof.tumblr.com/
What I Wore - this chick photographs what she wears every day http://whatiwore.tumblr.com/
Simple Dude in a Complex World - name says it all  http://www.thesimpledude.com/ (blogspot)
http://www.joshduffy.com/  - Not an AI contestant, but a great guy, and good music too!
Enjoy these! I do a lot... so if you enjoyed my blog, you likely will too.



Keep following your dreams,
Maria Saint

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Golden Tickets

 Lots of you don't believe me on the Golden Ticket Marks (N, K, Y)...   and I agree with you that maybe I'm wrong about what they mean, but I KNOW I'm right  that they exist.  I present to you, exhibit B.  I found these one or two pictures posted freely online... just by googling "American Idol golden ticket"  --  one is from season ten, one is from many years ago.  I edited out these people's names because I do not have their permission to post them..  however, if you google what I googled I'm sure you'll find them too.  One is on a website, the other on a person's flickr page.  Here are those two pictures below.




The third picture is my very own golden ticket.  I edited out both my name and contestant number because I know you people are crafty and you can probably track me down.  If you can't, the AI folks certainly can look it up.   I did take a picture of my nails on that day though, a) because they were super cute  and b) because you can see them in the golden ticket picture.  Not that I REALLY care if you don't believe me, but considering I had this picture I included it.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Truth About American Idol -- FAQ's

If you haven't read parts 1-9 yet, you may want to do that before you read these FAQs.  It's only in response to people who have sent in questions who have read parts 1-9.
 will add to this as necessary.     The other posts are still here... just click on "older posts"  for them.
If you're going to read any of them though, please read #9.  That's the most important one.   Lots of people have just been reading #1 and #7.  This one is sort of important too, I guess.

1.   Q: Do you answer every e-mail you get?
       A:  So far, yes, I try to answer every question in great detail (surprised? Ha!).   E-mail anything you want to ask to truedat504@gmail.com.   Would rather you do that than write awful things about me in blogs, but hey, I wrote some pretty harsh things so I guess we're all entitled to our own opinions! :)

2.   Q:  Why did you write this blog?   Aren't you just trying to get a reaction from the Idol people?
      A:   Nope. When I wrote parts 1 and 2 back in July, it was for two reasons - 1) to let contestants in other cities know the process, because I couldn't find anything online when I searched to find what to wear, what time to show up, was it really necessary to camp out overnight, etc.   and 2)  Blogging is a really good way to record your opinions for later on.  I experienced Hurricane Katrina and one of my biggest regrets is I didn't blog more about it at the time... memory fades (I said that in Part 9 even) and people forget.   I learned a lot from this experience and I personally wanted a record of that.   I was very careful not to include too many details about how I felt or what I thought in the beginning... it was factual, scrapbook types of things, "we got there at __ o'clock, and did ___."   As opposed to "We are happy because we met a guy named Carl!"    If you look carefully I was super vigilant at all times about NOT mentioning names or throwing people under the bus.    
           Suddenly, 6 months went by, and I forgot about it, and hoped other people did too- but suddenly January happened and there were 4 commercials a day on reminding people about the premiere.  People started calling, texting, even my 70 year old neighbors let me know they were going to TiVo it.   They all kept asking questions about "can we come watch it with you?  "what was it like?"  "tell us everything"  .  Since a grand total of 5 people read parts 1-3 in the 6 months it was up, I figured it was safe to begin be a little more liberal with disclosing the really good stuff.   130 of my friends viewed my blog the first two days.  I was really honored by all of their support.    I also wanted to prepare them for what they (maybe) were going to see.  It's a lot more believable if someone comes out BEFOREHAND and says "Look.  This is what happened.  I probably won't be portrayed favorably, and that's okay with me, and here's why...".    Had I actually been featured in the footage, people would not have believed me after the fact when I said "it's okay, it's all good!"   I've always been guilty of talking too much, sharing too much information, and being ridiculously honest.  I'm sure you have realized that about me already!
            The blog has had over 2000 hits in 2 days, and I am absolutely shocked by that.  I am finding myself on American Idol sites I never even knew existed (although I'm having lots of fun reading them, some good stuff there).     Thanks to everyone who has commented (both positive and negative)--  I've thoroughly enjoyed this discussion.

3.  Q:  Are you just writing this blog because you didn't get famous on American Idol and now you're trying to get famous / rich / a record contract now?
      A:   No.  If I was trying to become famous I would have used my real name.  If I wanted money I would have set up a Cafepress shop and made "The Truth About American Idol" t-shirts.   Admittely, I did set up an AdSense account, but I make 96 cents a day, and a girl's gotta eat somehow.  I spent a lot of time on this blog!    If I wanted a record contract, I would have posted the video of me singing my audition songs.     Keep in mind I also write 3 other blogs.  They barely have 100 readers between the 3 of them.  If I wanted promotion you would see links to my other writing here.   I've actually lost a little sleep over how big this has gotten because I still don't want to get in any kind of trouble, but if I do, I guess we'll just deal with that when it comes.

4.  Q:  Do you hate the American Idol people?  Aren't they just awful?
      A:  No.  They are decent people, they make a great show that I've enjoyed for many years.  I think their ratings have fallen though in recent years and I think they need to strongly consider why.  Although all this "bad audition" hoopla in the beginning is fun for most, it doesn't change the fact that some of the top 20 / top 10 episodes have come pretty boring over the last couple of years.  Most people seem to watch the auditions and watch the top 5, nothing in between.   They are obviously trying to fix this with the addition of the judges and some other rule changes (15 years olds, for example)... but maybe the actual concept needs to slightly change with the way the viewers are changing.  American Idol's not a novelty anymore.

5:  Q:  Do you carefully plot and plan each post?
      A:  Nope.  I actually sit down at my computer, blare either Muse or Taylor Swift (depending on mood) and type.  I rarely ever go back and edit.  I rarely ever stop my train of thought.  It just comes out... it was only supposed to be for me and friends!  I type it as if I type an e-mail.     I went to a really great college, I CAN edit.  I just don't here.  That's probably painfully obvious, right?

6.  Q:   Why did you audition if you knew you weren't going to make it?
     A:  I didn't think there was zero chance that I would make it... after all, I do get at least a dozen paid singing gigs a year.  It's not my career and it's not a lot of money but I must be at least sort of decent if I can get a couple of hundred bucks for a gig here and there and qualify for a professional union.  I didn't think I was what likely they were looking for, but every year "what they are looking for" changes.  One year it's a rocker girl, one year an underprivileged mom, or an older looking dorky gentleman, or a rocker guy, or a country girl, you get the point... it's always changing.  The only people who know who they are looking for is them.   That's kind of the point of auditions.  If I didn't audition for every show or role I wasn't 100% sure I was a shoe-in for, I wouldn't ever audition for anything.   Each audition is an experience, and it teaches you something different.  I also was really interested in how the process worked. Most importantly, a dear friend of mine wanted to go and didn't want to go alone. That was the biggest motivator.  I didn't plan on writing the blog from the beginning (why I took such crappy notes)  but everything just sort of happened.  Even writing this blog has been a huge learning experience, so I am pretty positive auditioning is what I was supposed to do!

7.  Q:  Alexis was killed in a car accident, you dumbass.   I e-mailed you the link to the article.
     A:  Thanks!  I knew she died recently, I knew I was sad by it.  Sorry I got that part wrong!   I know there have been people that committed suicide though after auditions that made press, right?   Feel free to comment here and tell me about it.  Not that I like hearing about that type of thing, but they deserve to be mentioned.    Either way, it really doesn't affect this story or the blog in anyway.  But thanks for the edit, reader!









Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Truth about American Idol auditions, Part 9

Personal Reactions / FAQ

I've said an awful lot and you must be sick of me by now, but I just want to leave you with these following points.

I am in no way bitter, upset, or offended by any of this experience.
Was it the greatest experience of my life?  No.   Do I wish I would have made a friend or two out of the auditions that I could still talk to?  Yes.  Am I bitter?  No.   Am I upset that I am not the next American Idol?  Of course, who wouldn't want a million dollar recording deal and to be on TV and be famous.   Yes, I'm upset I'm not the President of the United States or America's Next Top Model also, but we can each only be talented in so many ways.  Singing may not be mine (or maybe it is and I'm just going about it the wrong way, who knows), but I'm not bitter.    Were they mean to me?  No.   Were they nice to me?  No.    Did I fully know what I was getting myself into?   Sort of, that's a tough one.  I knew it was going to be edited, I knew it would be competitive, I knew things would be strange.  I didn't fully expect the level of paranoia that I went through nor did I expect to feel as uncomfortable or nervous as I did at certain points, but that's all ultimately my fault.    I'm still glad I did it and I wouldn't change that for the world.  I would have turned 29 and always wondered what might have been in 2010. (Ha!  Rhyming. Maybe I should be a poet.)

Let me explain the "paranoia" part.
I am not a paranoid person, nor have I ever been.    Correction, I am slightly paranoid.  If I see a scary movie, I am scared to be by myself at night for a few nights.  If I hear that a friend has betrayed me, I might never tell them secrets again.  If I hear someone talking about me I'll forever think they are talking about me, even if they aren't.   I think that's just human nature.  I might be slightly guarded, I think it's called being smart.   But I'm not generally in the mindset that everyone and everything is out to get me.
American Idol auditions were a different case.

Anything in life is going to have those that are good at it and those that are bad.  In corporate America, there are people that are paid better than other people.   In contests, there are 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners.  In school, there are grades.  There is always some way to know where you rank, and crude or cruel as it may be, it's nice to know where you stand.

The audition I went to for the other show was such a positive experience, (and keep in mind, please, that I am not a fame whore, well maybe a little bit :)  --  I just want to make it clear that I do not audition for shows all the time.  In my entire adult life I've auditioned for exactly two shows.  It just so happened that they were both within 6 months of each other.  BUT, they both just happened to also come to my city within 6 months of each other.  Opportunities presented themselves and I jumped on them.  In the latter c case I was really lucky (or prepared, however you want to look at it), because I knew where I stood.   I went into an audition, I was called out as being a person of interest.   I survived a cut.  I survived another cut.   In each case, passing through meant that I was good.  I had succeeded.  I had survived.  I would make it through to fight another time/day.   It was always joyous to hear that I was called for the next round.    AI is NOT like that.   You are always wondering if you're being passed through because you are that good or that bad.  You are always questioning the marks on your golden ticket.  You are always asking people what the judges said about them.  You're trying to figure out who's "good" and who's "bad,"  you are constantly trying to decide whether you should drop out of the competition as to not humiliate yourself or if you should continue on and have a chance at something wonderful.   It's pretty unfair, and I  say that even though I knew what I was signing up for, because....

Why it's unfair  /  Why I actually feel sorry for contestants who make it to the "reject reels"
It's not called reject reels officially, that's a name I made up for the boatloads of contestants who crack us up with their ridiculous renditions of anything from "Let My People Go"  to "She Bangs"  to original compositions like "I am Your Brother"  and the list goes on and on and on.  Let me tell you, I won't ever call it that again.    A few facts first.  1.  Contestants KNOW they could be featured for being bad, not for being good.   2.  They are told this well in advance, read papers, and even sign papers regarding this. 3. Contestants have clearly watched the show before and have seen episode after episode of these reject reels.

Hasn't anyone ever wondered why these people continue to audition?  It's because they think they're good.

But unlike the reason you think they're there, because they are delusional and full of themselves, because they think they're wonderful, because they want fame & fortune, or even simply and modestly because their friends/families/voice coaches told them they were good and convinced them to try out,  a good many of them (like me)  tried out because they are big fans of the show, an opportunity presented itself close to home where they could audition,  they've always wondered what could have been, they had a group going with them so they made an outing out of the day, and they just wanted to see what happened.   Had someone at that very first table at the New Orleans Arena been like "Look, I'm sorry, you'er just not good enough,"   and the contestant then responded "please, please, please, let me through, I promise I am awesome, I am so good" -- then yes, I fully blame them for anything they brought upon themselves.   But those producers do NOT tell you you are bad.  In fact they give you falsely encouraging advice.  I was told things like "that was great, the only bad thing I can say about it is that you need to make more eye contact."  and, "you're golden, that was awesome, you're through."  both by the same woman, and then later watched her cover her face with a clipboard as she tried not to laugh at me.  

Tell people the truth.  There ARE people who are there because they want fame and fortune and they will get it at any costs.  These are the people who are dressed in costume, dance on poles, do kart wheels, take off their clothing while singing, jump in pools, write their own songs, you get the idea. You've seen thousands of them throughout the years.  These are the people who don't care what anyone says or thinks about them.  All they want is their 15 minutes.   You have plenty of these people.  Please just let them have their hay day. I'm sure they will be plenty embarrassing enough for you.   They will get you fantastic ratings. But please don't lie to some poor little well dressed kid through 4 rounds about how good he is,  then put him in front of 10-14 people and cameras, tell him he sings bad, laugh at his shocked reaction, and then follow him through the Hilton Riverside as he cries his eyes out.  That's immoral.  That's wrong.

Disclaimer
I'm only human, I'm only fallible.  Parts 1, 2, 3 were written in July and were days after we auditioned.  Those are 100% accurate as they were fresh in my head.  For these other posts I wrote recently (yesterday and today),  they are mostly accurate.  I had some notes, and pictures and videos and things to refer back off of, but some things like names and exact locations and exact words may be slightly off.  If they are, I greatly apologize.  Most things are correct and accurate to the best of my knowledge.  If they are wrong they're how I felt, as given as this is a blog and not a textbook, I think that's okay!   If other contestants who were in New Orleans want to e-mail me or correct something (or add to it) I would absolutely welcome your comments/corrections with open arms.

Will I continue to watch the show?
Maybe.  I'm only human.  It's very very difficult for me to watch the rejec....  the honest people making honest mistakes featurette... because I've bee there and done that.  I know how it feels.   Will I still watch it?  Maybe.  I will definitely speak up for those people if I do, and I definitely won't laugh at them when they cry.  There HAVE been people who have committed suicide over American Idol auditions (that one girl Alexis comes to mind most often... I still think about her from time to time).  I don't think that's American Idol's fault, they had a lot of other deep seated issues, but it certainly started a lot of bullying that probably added to the problem.  I can't help but think about people like her when I watch it now.  But will I still watch it?  Maybe.  I definitely don't look forward to it like I used to.  I didn't even get all the way through the Jersey episode, which has NEVER happened to me before, especially this early in the rej... honest people featurette.  ESPECIALLY in a place as juicy as New Jersey.   But it just didn't hold the same appeal.  Maybe I'm growing up.  Maybe I just have more empathy.  Maybe I have better more productive things to do with my time than watch other people fail and/or succeed (like write blogs!).

Best wishes to American Idol Season 10
I may still watch because of the people I briefly met and liked who are still involved. I want to see them go far and do well.  And for what it's worth, Season 10 definitely seems different than any other season I've ever seen.  There are no quips from Simon (before I would have been as disappointed about that as I am about Steve Carrell leaving The Office) but if I'm feeling sorry for people now I'm glad he's not there.    I understand why Ellen DeGeneres left because she "realized this season that while I love discovering, supporting and nurturing young talent, it was hard for me to judge people and sometimes hurt their feelings."  She obviously knew what the show was about and what she'd be doing before she signed up, I guess she just didn't realize (like I didn't realize) the extent of some of the things that happened.   But it already seems different.  Jennifer Lopez is a beautiful person inside and out, and she's seemingly good intentioned.  I'd much rather laugh at Steven Tyler mouthing along to the lyrics and playing drums for contestants than to watch yet another person breakdown.   I also have noticed that they are hardly showing anything this year....  previous years we might see 25-40 contestants audition per episode, I'm not even sure if we saw 10 audition in New Orleans.  It seemed like there was a lot left out or missing.  I'm not sure of the reason exactly, but I sure am relieved!   Grateful you can only see me through this blog for now (or at least for a little bit longer).

I could give some kind of sappy send off or inspirational quote at this point... but let's just say that I might be back, I might not.  Until then, enjoy reading, feel free to post comments on any of the posts or refer this to other people, and if you have any questions shoot them to truedat504@gmail.com.

xoxo,
Maria Saint

PS -  if no one figured it out yet... the name Maria Saint came from the fact that they said I sounded like a Nun!   Ha!  Nuns are good!   So I have nice Catholic sounding nun name now.

IMPORTANT:  If you came here from a referring site, like Reality Blurred-- they may have just posted individual links.  There IS more after Part 9.  There is secret audio footage... there are pictures... there are recaps of every weeks shows and more behind the scenes information after each Hollywood episode.  So, make sure to go back to http://truedat504.blogspot.com/  to link to the MAIN site,  and read everything to date!  Oh, and you might want to follow on Twitter (@truedat504) or on blogspot to make sure you're kept up to date!

The Truth about American Idol Auditions Part 8

What I haven't told you... yet


The reactions
After each person auditioned, they'd walk out of the double doors back into the room where the family (if there was one) was waiting for them outside.  Of course they'd jump and scream and react appropriately, and the entire thing would be filmed.   What you should know about this:
1)  The family is told exactly where to stand
2)  The family is told exactly what to do
3)  If the families reaction is not good enough (or too good),  they have the reaction repeated so that they can film it from a different camera perspective.   They also make suggestions, like "wave your signs,"  "pick him up and spin him,"  and they are told over and over again to be as energetic and enthusiastic as possible.  People were scolded for just saying "yay" or "congratulations".
4)  All of the other families and contestants (who are sitting between 5-50 feet away)  are not allowed to clap, cheer, scream, talk, or make any noise whatsoever.  They do this because they don't want you to know those people are there.   Think back to my drawing of the double doors with the two potted plants and the row of chairs in front of the door with the first row of contestants and the however many rows of contestants and families behind them.  When you see the contestants running out of the room with the ticket, did you see anyone else around? Nope.   Isn't that slightly odd?   Yep.    Now, in their defense I did not make the very very last round, so they may have moved everyone to a separate holding area by then, but I know they still keep that area roped off (or silenced) to minimize background noise and cheering.

Shock and awe
One particular reaction that I'll never forget is this particular kid was Japanese, and he made it through.  His father was a little heavier, and stockier, and very excitedly put his hands out and stomped his feet a few times.   They asked him to do that over and over, louder and louder with his feet, and slower and slower.  Eventually he looked like Godzilla.  You get the idea.  It didn't take long for them to get the perfect footage, just by saying "oh, can you do that again?  why don't you REALLY stomp those feet this time!"      That memory will always haunt me and everytime I see them showing somebody doing something ridiculous now (clapping, screeching, doing a penguin imitation, whatever), I'm always secretly wondering if a producer or production person asked them "Hey, you know what would be neat? Can we get you twirling around like a little ballerina?  Okay, great!"

Creative editing
You probably already gathered this already from virtually all of my past posts but this is so important I'll say it again.  It's obviously been edited.    The audition process took 4-5 days, they condensed it to one.  People are wearing the same clothing past the point that deodorant can help them.  Songs that were sung in private, separately with just one camera person in the hallway, or for the executive producers make it to the reject reels and make it look like they were sung for the judges.   The reason the screen is behind the contestants head is so they can very easily  "cut and paste"  footage from that room.   You know the screen, the one that I said is purple this year (it looks hot pink on screen, I discovered tonight),  and has different Idols heads (sometimes leaving out Reuben Studdard), that's the screen in question.  The reason it's so blurry and graphic is so that you won't notice if someone is in a slightly different spot between takes.   And I've said it before, but I'll say it again,  other than the shots where the judges are dancing, hugging, or sometimes (as we saw tonight) even stripping with the contestants,  you will NEVER see judge and contestant in the same frame.   It goes from contestants head to judges head to contestants head to judges head.  This is so they can cut and paste different pieces of audition.  I'm unclear on whether they re-film some things if they come out poorly, or just go back and use footage from the Executive Producer rounds.   I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they do not use footage from the Executive Producer rounds, (because that's sort of unfair even though they tell you they might), but
it's no accident that I had so many cameras in my audition.  They say it's so that they can "screen test you and get a feel for what you will look like on camera,"  -- but if that was true, they'd just look at the footage once they had it and if you didn't show up well, get rid of it.   They waste so much money on other footage at auditions I find that extremely hard to believe.
The locations were obviously patched together.   People from New Orleans know that the escalators contestants were coming down with their families and golden tickets are NOT in the New Orleans arena, that was Hilton Riverside hotel.  And the room with the view of the river and double doors with golden handles is a room called River, on one side of the Hilton Riverside.  The holding room that contestants were shown running back into to show their golden ticket to other contestants after their audition is called Compass, and is on a completely different side of the hotel.  It is nowhere near the River room.  So why run them back in there?  Just to get the reaction of the other contestants to their golden ticket?     Some of it makes no sense.  I would love to be able to sit in on one of their production meetings to find out how and why these decisions are made.  One thing is for sure, they'll never let me do that now!   Ha!

The exit interview
After my audition I walked out with no golden ticket (which was fully expected), the cameras and fake Seacrest were there to greet me.  What I mean by this is that there was an exit interview, just like you'd have if you were actually in the judges round of the show.  You come out, Seacrest asks how you did, what they said,  comments about things that happened in your audition, etc.   Even though neither the judges or Ryan Seacrest were at my final audition round, they still had this exit interview.  They said it was yet another way to screen test us and see how awesome we looked on camera.   The peculiar thing about this interview was that you were asked questions by this production person (I called him fake Seacrest)  or the camera men, but fake Seacrest was never seen on camera.      Because I had no one there with me hooting and hollering, I knew my exit interview would be rougher than most.  I was prepared.  I noticed a couple of things, 1) as stated before these people were asking you questions but not visible on camera,  2) the questions they were asking were very leading,  and 3) the questions they were asking were designed to bring out emotion in people.

Here's an example.  Someone comes out of the room.  A normal person might ask, "How did you do?"
Fake Seacrest would ask, "You look really upset.  Tell us why you're angry."
Big difference, right?

So my strategy for exit interview was as follows:
a) Begin each answer just like a man who's in trouble with his wife/girlfriend.  By repeating the question first.
b)  Say NOTHING that can be taken out of context
c)  Say EVERYTHING without raising my voice
d) Smile always
e)  If possible, make every statement as "unairable" as possible (without being rude or mean).

I was quite proud of myself.  I was asked something like, "You have no golden ticket, does that make you really really upset?"    and I responded  "Why would you think I'd be really really upset just because I have no golden ticket?  This was a wonderful experience and I'm proud of myself."   At another point they asked me if I would come back and audition again and I just smiled sweetly and said "I can't because I'm too old.  I would love to, though.  I sure will think differently about it when I watch it on TV though!"


Following contestants out
 I haven't seen much of it this season, but in past seasons there are always a few contestants (always the bad ones) who are followed out of the arena/hotel/conference center whatever.  They are shown walking through the corridors, down the escalators, out onto the streets, and sometimes all the way to the parking lot!   They usually are mouthing off at the cameras, flipping them the bird, crying, or displaying some other kind of equally ridiculous behavior.  I was always so angry at these people for behaving this way and hogging the attention of the cameras for so long, even after it was clear they weren't going to have a shot on the show.

In New Orleans, there was this one kid who was really sweet, but really not a great singer.  He went in, was told he was bad, and left.  He came outside and gave a respectable exit interview.  He was with his Mom or Grandma who was a little nuts, and he was a little off also, but he was nice and respectful.  He was obviously trying very hard not to cry.  They just kept badgering him and asking more questions, faster, and faster.  At one point fake Seacrest and camera man were practically double-teaming him.   He became overwhelmed and knew he was going to cry so he just lowered his head, said "Thank you"  and walked away.  I was so proud of the kid.  But low and behold, camera man (fake Seacrest stayed to torment the next victim, or maybe to apply some fake Seacrest hair-gel) took off walking after the kid, still asking him questions.  He just lowered his head even more in shame, sunk his shoulders, and kept walking.  He did not flip off the camera.  He did not scream.  He did not turn around.  He didn't do anything he shouldn't have done.  He just kept walking.  And they followed him down the escalators and out the doors as he tried to hide his tears.   When I saw that I had tears to hide as well.  I'm not trying to be over dramatic here, I know the kid knew this was a possible outcome and risk-- I just don't see the need to follow someone who is not purposely doing anything for attention.  I'll never forget that dude- if you are out there please message me!  I'd love to buy you a drink.


That's it for this round... stay tuned for post #9, coming up soon.


The Truth about American Idol Auditions, Part 7

Executive Producer Round, continued

My audition
I've been dreading writing about this actual part (can't you tell by all of the parts that proceeded this post?)  and I'm not sure why.  I'm sure it's a lot easy to write about "I got through and I'm going to Hollywood"  than it is to say "they hated me",  but I wasn't embarrased and I thought I did as well as possible under the circumstances.  I tried to hold my head as high as possible and never say anything negative while I was there.   I tried not to be rude to anyone, even people like FlagBoy or Brick (although I was a LITTLE rude to her after she pushed me over my limits), I tried to look nice (not slutty),  and I was constantly trying to take the smart approach of evaluating what was really happening (what the producers were saying to me versus what they were actually writing down about me) and I think those are all the reasons why it wasn't a whole lot worse.

I wore jeans, silver sparkly flip flops, and a silver sparkly tank top.  I was thinking that I wanted to stand out but not appear crazy,  that I wanted something slightly sexy but not skanky, and normal.   I was considering that we would have to wear the same thing for four days so I couldn't wear anything that needed to be dry-cleaned,  and I was thinking about the fact that we'd be standing for hours at a time (hence the flip flops), and that we'd be outside in the New Orleans heat for a lot of it (hence the tank top).   I won't here for obvious reasons but if anyone would like to see a picture of what I wore, feel free to ask.   truedat504@gmail.com   --  I also have a video of me singing the song as I did at the actual audition, wearing the same exact thing (I shot it the night after the arena day).

As for song choice, I've worked professionally as a classical singer.  That's not to say that I'm a really really good singer, I'm not.   But, I can read music, stay on pitch 99% of the time, and have worked professionally doing both opera and musical theatre for years.  I'm also a union opera singer.  So, I'd be lying if I said I had absolutely no experience or idea what I'm doing, but I'm not the greatest either.  I'm a phenomenal chorister, but just a so-so soloist.  If that makes sense.      But, I have watched American Idol for 9 years, I know it's about pop music and just recently R&B and rock music, and I know that anyone who sings opera gets made fun of.   I wasn't going to disclose opera at all.  I specifically left it off of all of my interview sheets, all of my questionnaires, and everything else.  I talked about my job, my school training,  my volunteer work, everything but that.  I knew better.   But at some point, in one of the legal disclosure forms, I had to by law disclose if I was in a professional singing union.  Crap.   So I did.

So I get to the audition fully prepared.  I'm going to sing "Barracuda" by Heart, and if they ask for another song, I'll sing "Come Away with Me"  by Norah Jones.   I had vocal nodules many years ago (blisters on your vocal chords) so I have this really really weird vibrato thing going on.   I sound generally ridiculous singing pop music because of that and the classical training combined, but I generally can do a pretty good job of faking 70s and 80s hair music where people half scream with vibrato, and Norah Jones has some of those same elements in her voice as well so I figured I was pretty good with that.  I posted some videos on YouTube for critique, asked some of my friends who run recording studios and bands,  asked some of my professional singer friends, etc.  I worked relatively hard on trying to pick the right songs for me.

I wait for Jessica to go in, she does, I hear her singing, it's great, I'm nervous... I'm waiting for her to come out and even though they are shooing me into the curtained area in between the waiting room and the singing room, I want to see her come out and hold out long enough to get a chance to.  She got a golden ticket.  Awesome.  I was happy for her but it made me even more nervous.

I enter the room.  It looks EXACTLY the same as what it does on TV.   Except for a few things.   Simliarities:  the big obnoxious American Idol wallpapered wall is behind where I'm standing.  You know this wall... every year they change it, sometimes it's red, sometimes blue, sometimes green, this year it's purple.  It's got big silhouettes of past idols, sometimes their big heads, sometimes even less successful Idols like Reuben Studdard are included, sometimes they aren't, sometimes there is a head or body with a ?  on it that means it could be you, you know what I mean.  More Similiarities:  judges table complete with Coca Cola cups,  PA's with clipboards sitting in the corner,  wooden floor that's been laid down,  obnoxiously large American Idol circle logo laid onto the floor for you to step on (that thing is LITERALLY four inches off of the ground, it is a HUGE step),  open glass wall with a view of the river,  big microphone above your head.    Differences:  HUGE microphone above your head,  three or four camera men with grips holding other microphones,  three or four cameras,  about 20 assistants in the corner, and aside from the three judges, about 10 other people on each side.  So it's you, alone, staring at least 15 people in the face with another 10-20 watching.     (I didn't mention this before but that was the thing that shocked me about Mel's room.  That room, although small, had a long table that was lined with about 10-12 producers. Talk about pressure!)   More differences:  an "x" marks the spot on the obnoxious 4 inch high American Idol logo indicating where you should stand, and which way your face should point.

I give a quick introduction, I think they may have cut me off to tell me to sing my first song.  I sing Barracuda, Mel laughs at me.  I think I see her mouth "I told you"  to Ken.   I immediately understand why she passes me through, she thinks I'm hilarious.   I glare at her and she puts her clipboard over her face.   I get through 3 or 4 whole lines this time before Ken stops me and asks me why I'm screaming.  He asks me something about being a union singer and I admit that I do sing opera.  He asks me to sing opera.  KNOWING where this is now going I politely decline.  I start singing the Norah Jones song.  He cuts me off and again asks me to start singing opera.  Of course he wants to hear  "O Mio Babbino Caro."  That's the only song that ANYONE ever wants to hear.   Opera singers know what I'm talking about.  I tell him I'm not doing that because it's too overdone, and as a private joke to myself I ask if he'd like to hear some Phantom?   Haha, I thought that was hilarious, personally.  He didn't get the joke.  I didn't think he would.   He tells me I can either sing opera or get out.  I considered this for a minute knowing the hell the camera man would give me if I was not cooperative in the after-interview.   I sing a German piece a) because I love it,  b) because it's German and there was no way to use English words against me out of context later (example, someone singing "Aint' no sunshine when she's gone"  and rearranging the words and melody so that it sounds like a bad "You are my sunshine"... not saying they actually do that but I wouldn't put it past them with everything else I saw).  and c) I took some delight in knowing that none of the producers had ever heard it before.  

After I finished singing Ken Warwick asks me a little about myself, I tell him a little more about myself, and he responds "you seem like a nice girl, really you do, but everything you sing sounds like a nun."   A NUN?  I was so shocked.  I expected to hear many things, the typical British "that's dreadful,"  or something like that, but I've never ever been told I sing like a nun.  And I've even PLAYED nuns before in productions!  Ha!   So without thinking, I respond, "nuns are good."    and I thank them for their time, smile graciously (into all 3 cameras),  turn around and walk out.

Stay tuned for the after-interview... that's a very important part of this whole thing as well.  But I have to tell you,  hahahaha, when I saw my mother and told her what they said, the FIRST thing she said is, "Nuns are good!    I like nuns!"     hahaha.  Awesome.    That, (aside from the charbroiled oysters) was easily the best part of my day!

The Truth about American Idol Auditions, Part 6

Executive Producer Round, continued

The Families
I mentioned before why I didn't bring any family or friends with me, but the one reason I was kind of sad that I didn't is because the atmosphere was pretty hostile, at least towards me.  There were some fast cliques, like guitar guys, or jewelry girls, or whoever.  There were also some good souls that were nice to everyone regardless of what they personally thought about their chances, like Jorge.   There were some people that were so crazy that they would talk for hours to anyone, whether or not the other person was actually listening.  But most everyone was the same:  they would talk excitedly to the 2 or 3 people they made "friends" with,  stop to listen when someone like JoJo girl would sing, but mainly would be wrapped up in their own little world, listening to music, and would look at you like you were crazy if you tried to start up a conversation with them.

I expected nerves to be high, but I didn't expect an atmosphere like that.  People would run over to their families and jump up and down and yell and cheer and scream, and then come sit down and not say a word for an hour.  People would ask you a million questions "I've done three TV shows, how many have YOU been on?"  or list their impressive accomplishments.  People would ask you to sing and then turn up their noses right at you, or say things like "maybe Garth Brooks isn't the best choice for you, sweetie,"  or "that was cute, but you sang it really loud."    I was shocked by the way I suddenly felt like I was in Junior High again,  that everyone was judging my hair and nails and clothing and the cool kids were going to put me down so they could feel cooler.  It was a really tense environment.   As a contrast, I went to another audition recently for another show (as mentioned before), and I was afraid of it based on this experience.  But, I was so surprised when I got there, everyone was friendly, everyone talked to you,  people told you stories about their husbands and kids, their little babies at home, their medals they got at church, just, whatever.  Everyone was rooting for everyone (and not just because you were supposed to for the scouts) but because they wanted everyone to do well.  Afterwards people hung out, we still talk to each other weeks later.  

I've wondered why these differences occured, and I've come up with two main reasons.  1)  The other show I auditioned for was a chance of a lifetime, also, but it's not something you have to have a particular skill or talent for.  It helps to know what you're doing, but it's not neccessary.    American Idol is a talent thing and people watch it SO carefully and scrutinize every move of every contestant that it becomes extremely stressful.  The contestants also get into a mindset of "if I can't make it my career is over"  and  because many of them ONLY do music, it's "if my career is over I have nothing left."  So it's just this very very tense vibe.
2)  Forgive me if you take offense to this or do not agree, but I mentioned before that of the people at the audition, I only found 4 that were from New Orleans.   My other audition we were 90% Louisiana born and bred, and it was apparent by the "How's ya Mom and thems?"  all over the place.   This one had people from Florida, Texas, Arkansas, all over.  So it's no wonder that I found the people to behave very very differently from what I'm used to.

Break for Lunch
So, after about 15 people go into the executive producer round, we get a lunch break.  I go ask around and see if a few people want to have lunch together, they all decline.  Many of them are with their families and that's understandable but even the 2 or 3 that are alone are going off in sets of 2.  I'm surprised that no one wants to eat together and even more surprised that no one wants to ask the girl who's actually from New Orleans what to eat, but whatever... less of a line at Drago's for me!  Mmm charbroiled oysters.    We have some ridiculous amount of time to eat lunch and be back, if we are late and miss our number we could be cut.  Since I'm #4 or #5 to audition when we return, I definitely want to arrive back early.  I believe we had 30 minutes and even though I was just going to the hotel lobby to eat, I knew it wouldn't be enough time. 

The most annoying girl of all time
I probably should have mentioned this girl in one of the previous posts, but just thinking about her makes my blood boil so I guess I waited until I could get it all out.   A girl seated very close to our five person group that morning turned to me and asked me the following question.  "So, like, do you think this is going to take awhile?  Because I have to go to my job and I didn't take off and my boss will like kill me if I'm late."     I remind her as civilly as I can manage that the last round took all day, and they said this round could take even longer.  I also point out that the sheet we were given says in print we'd be there at least six hours.   "oh crap,"  she whines "but I can't afford to miss work.......  I wonder if they will let me go first?"   I roll my eyes at her and shrug.   I want to tell her off but at this point I'm still trying to make friends.  I don't remember her name either, Jamie?  She must have been about 17 or 18... she told me what she did, I think she was a waitress or a temp, I don't really remember.  Some job all college kids have.  It also really bothered me that most people (aside from the costumed)  were in really nice jeans or pants and a killer top and makeup,  some in dresses/skirts, most presentable, and this girl was in ripped jeans, flip flops, a tank top with her different colored bra strap hanging out, and wet hair twisted up into a clip, with zero makeup on.  I kid you not.  Did she not realize she was going to be on TV?   She catches me looking at her hair and says "oh... haha, I was too lazy to blow dry it this morning."     Seriously?  Why are you even here?   I make a mental point to ignore everything she said for the rest of the day so I didn't lose my cool.  Jorge and Jessica and a few other people did make conversation with her and I think Jessica really liked her, but I just couldn't tolerate her.  She whined non-stop for the next four hours about how long it was taking.  I think at one point I may have said "if it's that miserable, leave, but you can't come back and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for you,"  but she just said "like, we'll see what happens."     I know my memories are fuzzy because this happened awhile back, I remember being seated very close to her, I'm wondering if she was even in our 5 group of J names and I'm remembering one of the guys wrong.  Either way.  She annoyed me.  We will call her Brick from now on, because you guessed it, she's dumb as one.

Break for Lunch #2
So for the lunch break the Idol producers come in and give us the following orders.   We are supposed to take our coveted big sticker off (and it is DIFFICULT to get those off of your clothing without ripping them),  place them on the back of the chair we are sitting in (to keep our place),  they will put a family wristband on us (so we can get back into the black curtain), and we can then go.  We are under NO circumstances allowed to roam the hotel freely with our big sticker on (whoops, I had done that at least 10 times already to go to the bathroom and the gift shop, and had even talked to a few people who asked me how auditions were going and if Randy was there),  and then we'd return back, change out the armband for the sticker, etc.    This is all important for 3 reasons.  1)  Security was amazing and it was ridiculous to me how they had to put the armband on you (you couldn't do it yourself),  you didn't get an armband until your sticker was on your chair, and it was a very authoritative process, but I guess I expected that.  2)  When I went down to the bar to eat my lonely oysters, I found my Mom and Aunt who were there to surprise me so I got to eat a fabulous lunch and even though the bill didn't come in time I still made it because they stayed and paid-- I have NO idea how anyone who didn't have someone "on the outside" made it back within the 30 minutes,  and 3) when I returned from lunch, we found that Brick had written on her sticker on her chair "Sorry, I had to leave.  Won't be returning."     Total shock occured, they alerted a producer, he took her sticker away, which meant that I was now auditioning 4th instead of 5th.