personal narrative of my American Idol Audition experience in NJ for season 10 in Aug '10
| New Jersey is over eight hours away and around five hundred miles away from my small hometown of Chesterland, Ohio, where I have been dreaming my life away of becoming a singer. However, for one weekend, New Jersey was where I had my chance to make that dream finally come true. Seventeen thousand musicians and singers showed up at the IZOD center in East Rutherford for American Idol Season 10 Auditions. Singing has always been something I’ve been passionate about. I’ve been singing since I was four years old. For the longest time I was scared of singing in front of people and always had the worst stage fright. As I started to enter Fine Arts competitions, I gained more confidence in my singing. Every year I would watch American Idol and always wished to be one of the normal people with dreams that make it on the show. Years later I went for it, and there was my chance. My parents were actually taking off work and taking their time to drive me states away. Hours of driving and waiting in line were well worth the experience, but it was up to me to show my confidence and talent among many others. It was my week and my time to shine.|
The alarm sounded. It was 1:00am and time to get up. It was registration day; the long day that everyone dreads. The hotel was approximately twenty minutes away from the center where the next couple days of my life will take place. Getting ready for a big day on a couple of hours of sleep wasn’t the most exciting thing, but this was the day I’d been looking forward to since American Idol first aired on television. I was about to pass out. My heart was racing as I got ready, knowing that this whole experience would begin in less than an hour. I was actually doing it. My nerves were never so chaotic. With a mixture of excitement, nervousness and relief, I walked out the door.
My mother and I arrived to the center at 2:30am. Thousands of people were already waiting in line. I found someone from around the area where I lived. I first met Sophie in person, at registration. In the summer, I took her place in a band when she quit. I knew nothing about her but only heard bad things. She was also on the show Nashville Star when she was back in high school, where on the show I only got bad, rude vibes about her. When I found out she was trying out for American Idol I got worried and wasn’t too happy to meet her. After finding out that she tried out in Nashville a couple months earlier, I had questions about what to do and was told to talk to her about it. I hesitantly gave it a shot and found out she was nothing like the person people made her out to be. We hit it off right away. That morning I texted her hoping I could catch a spot in line with her, but I decided that cranky, competitive, sleep deprived contestants weren’t exactly what I wanted to mess with at the time. I went to the end of the line, and we were placed in the third section of contestants and their guests. There were only three sections of people when we arrived so far and each one had around three hundred to five hundred people. It was a good section for us because seventeen thousand people showed up that day, creating many more sections behind us. Being so far up in line was a great benefit for around the first thousand contestants. Even though we had to get there earlier than the others, we had the first slots for auditioning and could leave earlier. We settled in our spot, knowing that it would be ours for the next couple of hours as we waited in line. Chairs, blankets and pillows filled the hard concrete floors outside of the center. It was quiet. If there was any noise, it was a soft hum, or a quiet voice singing in the distance. Next to us were a mother and her daughter, Shakira, who we conversed with for a while. They were the sweetest people and we had a lot in common. Our mothers were going crazy singing together, but we should have expected embarrassment from people that were running on very little or even no sleep. In the end, it helped speed up the wait.
When the sun came up the cameras started rolling. People started to act more lively, but once again, on only a few hours of sleep, and some on none, not much was expected of them. Our section was quite dead. The first two before us were very lively. I do not know how because they must have arrived hours before us, which most likely means, they are on NO sleep AT ALL.
I met another friend named Drew, as the day started, who was fifteen and an amazing singer. He is probably one of the nicest people I’ve met. The doors opened around 7:00am. We talked and walked as the line moved very slowly to the doors. After waiting in line for over four hours, everyone was eager to go inside. With huge excitement, around 8:00am, we finally entered the doors and received our wristbands. The auditioning contestants wore red ones and the guests wore green ones. When we got them, we were given tickets into the stadium with our seat/section numbers. After that, day one was complete and the rest of the say was ours.
The second day was filled with relaxation. Since we attended day one registration, and day two registration was the day before the actual auditions; it was a free day! That free day consisted of New York City. I met up with my friend Sophie and picked out a time to meet up again and to go to dinner. We decided to eat at Planet Hollywood, which I was really excited for because I’ve always wanted to go there. We had some time to kill before dinner, so we parted and I walked around the city with my mom and dad. I tried to enjoy as much as I could but all I could think about was audition day. I was beginning to get so stressed out and worrying that I wouldn’t make it and do good. When it was finally time to meet up with Sophie and her family, I realized maybe it would clear my mind. I needed to enjoy this time in New York City and be grateful that I even had the opportunity!
Dinner was by far one of the most fun times I had through the Idol experience. I got to know another side of Sophie that not many people took the chance to get to know. I found out that she really grew in maturity. She’s been dating a marine for over a year which has helped her grow up and become independent and responsible, the complete opposite of what I’ve been told by others. We acted like sisters and knew whatever happened through this experience, even if one of us didn’t make it, we’d still keep in touch and be there for each other. In the dining area there were televisions screens surrounding the room. We saw that people would request shoot-outs to the DJ along with posting them on the screens. Sophie’s aunt had the DJ make a good luck shout-out for our auditions. Our names were on all of the screens in Planet Hollywood; it made us feel like we had our moment of stardom and got us excited for audition day.
As we wrapped up dinner we debated on walking the city at night, or going back to the hotel to practice. I never saw the city at night, so I chose to stay out. Sophie went back to her hotel to practice and get some sleep, which was something I should have done because by the time I got to the hotel, I was too tired and too stressed out to even practice. I went to the car and tried to practice. I felt like I couldn’t try anymore. I lost all faith in myself and told myself I wasn’t even good enough. I kept repeating to myself, “I can’t do this. I know I’m not going to make it. I now officially suck at singing.” I was bringing myself down. I spent all night praying and crying. At that point, I was starting to give up. I decided to go to bed and sleep it off because in a couple of hours I had to wake up for the big day.
Audition day was the day everyone was waiting for. It was the day that thousands of people drove hours for. I woke up at 4:00am. I had my outfit ready and voice warmed up. My dad drove my mom and me to the center where we anxiously waited in line. They started b-roll around 5:00am. B-roll was all of the loud screaming scenes that take place outside before auditions that you see on the show. You had to make it there around 3-4:00am to make it in it. A little before 7:00am the doors started opening and we were taken to our sections in the stadium. Our section was towards the floor, which meant we’d be the first thousand or so to audition. As we settled in, they started more b-roll and the normal scenes you see on the show. Around 8:00am, the host of the show, Ryan Seacrest, came out. We had to rehearse for commercials and the New Jersey auditions episode. “Welcome to New Jersey!” We constantly had to practice, over and over again. They also made us fist pump while chanting “Jersey, Jersey, Jersey, Jersey!” Ryan Seacrest practiced his introduction along with the famous “This is American Idol” saying. Auditions finally started around 9:00am. I found Sophie who was sitting a little higher than me in the stands and Drew who was closer to the floor. Shakira was all the way at the top. The set up of the audition tables are different from what you see on the show. There were twelve tables spaced out with black curtains on both sides of the table seated with one or two producers, who were the judges for that round. A group of four contestants get placed in line for a table. Each contestant steps up one at a time and gets around thirty seconds to sing. After they were done, they step back and wait for the producers to tell them if they are in or out. If you are in, they will ask for your wristband number and ask you some questions then give you “the golden ticket” sending you to the next round. You leave through the “winner” doors on the right and are NOT allowed back out or have contact with any of the other contestants. There, you will go on to compete in three to four more rounds of executive producers, until the next day, where you leave the city to audition one more time to make it in front of the official American Idol judges. If you don’t make it, they release you, cut off your wristband, keep it, and had you exit through the “losers” door and are not allowed back inside. It was a very harsh and depressing process.
As I waited anxiously for my turn to audition, I practiced in the bathroom and upstairs where many other contestants practiced. I became more and more nervous. Around 11:30am my section was brought down to the floor to line up for the tables. I was at the second table with three other girls. Sophie somehow ended up 2 groups behind me. Ahead of me a couple of tables down, was Drew. I was so anxious to see if he made it or not. Right when I was about to start my audition, I saw him run up to me screaming. He picked me up yelling, “I made it!” with his golden ticket in his hand. I was so happy for him that I started crying. He looked at me and said, “I’ll see you over there. You’re going to make it. I know you are!”
As he walked away through the winner’s door, I knew the only way for me to see him again was to make it. I didn’t have his number or know his last name, so this was the only way, but right as I was about to audition, I forgot my words. Luckily, the girls I was auditioning with acted like they wanted to go first, just so I could try to recollect my memory. As I did, I stepped up and sang my heart out after the three other girls finished. I stepped back waiting for the news that could possibly change my life. The producer looked at us. “You are all talented, but I’d not what we’re looking for, for season ten, I’m sorry girls.”
My heart sank. I immediately started crying and rushed out. They cut off my wristband and I walked away. Sophie was warning me to not cry because she said the cameras follow you if you do. Unfortunately, I was too upset to listen. I got outside the center and was immediately hounded by camera men. They would not leave me alone, even if you asked them nicely. If you cry, they film. They stalked me for a good five minutes questioning me just like the failed auditions you see on the show. After the camera man finally left me alone, all I could think about was my friend Drew, and if I would ever see him again. Sophie ended up coming out the loser’s door just like me. I’d glad she was still by my side and we went through it together. As sad as I was, I knew that I still had many more chances and this wasn’t the end. Even though I was upset the rest of the day, I found in me, to accept that everything happens for a reason.
Through this American Idol experience, I had my ups and downs. I was brought together with some amazing people who still take place in my life. Sophie is currently my best friend and I’m going to be her maid of honor in her upcoming wedding. If it was never for American idol, I doubt we would have gotten to know each other. Thank the Lord for Facebook, because I found Drew by his first and middle name. He made it to the final round before the official judges and then they booted him. I still keep in touch with him. Sadly, I haven’t talked to Shakira since auditions but the friendships I’ve made along this journey were worthwhile.
I’ve gained confidence in myself and know that if I keep trying I can achieve my goal. It’s helped me come out of my shell and not be afraid of the talent I have been blessed with. I finally did something I’ve always been wanting to do and even though I didn’t make it as far as I wish I had, I know I still have a talent that I can use in many ways. This experience has only been a start for me. My journey has only begun.