American Idol (Or: How I'm learning to embrace my inner Sarah Palin)

Sooo….. I auditioned for American Idol. If you were unaware of that fact, you must not be my facebook friend, or following me on twitter, or know me in real life – cause it’s pretty much all I talked about last week.

The story:

Being the rule follower that I am, I took the ‘arrive at 5 am’ dictum very seriously. I was probably about a quarter of the way through the arrivals, which means a mere 2500 were there at 4:45 when I got there. We were moved around pretty constantly from that point on – mostly between muddy grass and wet pavement, so that when the sun came up we’d be in the ideal videotaping location. This is apparently why it was good to arrive on time – the camera was pretty much always pointed in my general direction. Of course, there were 1000 people who are more than 5′ tall between me and it, but it was totally pointed in my direction. It was aimed at me while I yelled the following on command:

“Welcome to Denver!”

“Welcome to the Mile High City!”

“I’m the next American Idol!”

“NO,  I’M the next American Idol!”

Apparently this is all going to be part of some long intercity rivalry montage where Atlanta will yell that they’re the next American Idol, and then we’ll yell that no we’re the next American Idol, and then Dallas will yell that they’re the next American Idol, etc. Original, right? It was kind of fun, especially since it was still verry verry early. I was freezing cold but I made several new friends. These came mostly in the shape of Jason Gentile and Noah Micheal.

Jason Gentile. No, I did not take this picture that morning. This is the profile picture of his Myspace music page. Which is not to say its not a good picture.

Jason Gentile. No, I did not take this picture that morning. This is the profile picture of his Myspace music page. Which is not to say it's not a good picture.

Noah Michael. Also not taken that morning (obviously).

Noah Michael. Also not taken that morning (obviously).

Jason got top billing because he gave me a CD, in case you’re wondering. It had nothing to do with him having his shirt off in that picture. No, really.  I also met a super awesome chick named Sara. (In this particular case, by super awesome I mean unnecessarily bitchy.) She had a plaid dress and funky hair and cute glasses, and by rights I should have just adored her. Unfortunately, she opened her association with us by telling Noah that the bandanna he was wearing to show Texas love actually meant that he was gay and wanted to fist someone. She followed up that gem by inserting herself between Jason and I and turning her (pale, kind of chubby, spotty) back to me. Stay classy, Sara.

Annnnnnyhow. Eventually they let us into the stadium!! Oh my god then it turned so awesome!! Cause, you know, first, we did the “I’m the next American Idol” thing again. Then, we TOTALLY got to learn some harmonies to the Carrie Underwood song ‘Last Name‘ and sing it manymanymany times.  This did have the upside of allowing me to warm up. It also had the upside of letting me listen to 10,000 people sing about casual sex with someone whose last name you don’t know. Then the ACTUAL AUDITIONS STARTED. I know, you sort of forgot where this story was going, huh? Yeah, me too. Admittedly it was only about 9:30 at this point, but trust me, it felt like a looonnnngggg time.

Here’s how it works. They set up 12 tents on the far side of the stadium. See?

TENTSThey took us down row by row and split us into groups of four. Each group would head over to a tent, where Simon and Paula and Randy would be waiting. No, just kidding (haha I’m so freaking funny sometimes). Some random producers (who in my case were actually younger than me) would point at you, you’d sing for 15 seconds at MOST, then you’d get cut off and the next person would sing. Once all four of you were done, you’d either get a ‘you’ll be moving on’ or a ‘thank you, not this year’.

I have never been in a place where there were more unsubstantiated rumors flying around. I work at a telecom company and during LAYOFFS we don’t have that many rumors. Everyone wanted to establish a preemptive a reason that they wouldn’t get in, and the fat dude with the princess Leia bra would. For example – “Each booth is instructed to only let a certain type of person through”. That was my favorite, because that way, if you didn’t make it through, it wasn’t because you weren’t good enough. It was because you were a voluptuous female jazz singer and they were only looking for skinny rocker chicks. Or cowboys. Or people for Simon to mock.

I was in section 105. That seemed GREAT when we thought they were going to be starting with 103 and counting up… not so good when it turned out that they started with 103, then swooped around to 111 and started counting DOWN. I have no idea whose brilliant idea that was, but it meant I had 4+ hours to kill. I mostly used that time to a) not care when Ryan Seacrest arrived and b) get intimidated by the exceptionally talented people I was surrounded by.

I came thisclose to throwing in the towel, y’all. I was hot and tired and I’d experienced the American Idol phenomenon, ya know? But I was there, I’d taken the day off work, and if I quit my new friends would all know I was a pansy who couldn’t handle a little competition. Look at these tough girls, how could I have quit on them?

The extremely gorgeous Ellyn.

The extremely gorgeous student Ellyn.

The equally gorgeous CIA trained chef Brandy.

The equally gorgeous CIA trained chef Brandy. Also, some dude in the background who wasn't sure how comfortable he was with being in the picture.

So. Nine billion years later, I sang. And… I did not hear the dreaded ‘thank you, not this year’.

And I’m not allowed to talk about what happened then, or will happen next, should I continue. Honestly, at this point, I probably not going to do it. I want to be a pastry chef. This was exciting, but (like the titular Sarah Palin) I just kind of don’t feel like it anymore. People will pay too much attention to me, the rules will be too strict, etc etc. I’m a big baby, but ya know what? If it’s good enough for Sarah*, it’s good enough for me. I MAY still continue, I haven’t committed one way or the other, but I’m definitely leaning towards Emma-with-the-cupcakes and away from Emma-on-national-television.

Also, rumors aside, I was not in the top 400 singers in that stadium. Hell, I wasn’t the best singer in my group of 4. I don’t know what happened, but I appreciate it, you young producers, you. It makes me feel that, no matter what I decide, it was worth driving my ass down there at 4 am on a tuesday morning.

*I’m not what you would call a Sarah Palin fan, in case the sarcasm is a little thin here.

Ok, you talked me into it. A little more gratuitous Jason.


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