American Idol Chatter
By Stefanie Peters
Fox TV’s American Idol rolled into town last month as contestants swarmed the Target Center with dreams of being the next Taylor Hicks. All media was banned at the door, and this reporter was removed from the lobby after sneaking in an unguarded door. So what happens behind locked doors where only the contestants were permitted? Why all the secrecy? Is it really like you see on television?
American Idol sets everyone up to believe that any idiot walking off the street would be able to tryout in front of Paula, Simon and Randy. Is that the case? Not a chance! No one even knew if the elite three were in town. I doubt it.
“It was a joke,” says Jonathan Thulin, a professional singer who released his first CD this September. “It was a good experience, but it’s nothing like the TV show. I got to see Ryan Seacrest for a few seconds, but that was about it. There were people that had amazing voices that were taken out in the first round. Only the people who had costumes were put through to the executive producers.”
Is this a talent show or who-you-know? Some say it’s no talent show; it’s whoever can sweet talk the producers the best. Others say it’s a disorganized circus. A few that advance to the next round may have talent, but the rest are there to say they tried out for American Idol or their attempt at 15 minutes of fame.
Others believe that this could be their big chance. Brittany McCullough, a 16- year-old girl from Kansas, said, “I met amazing people and would definitely try out again. It was a great experience.” The 10,000 contestants (our estimate, producers haven’t returned numerous emails) waited for hours with their pillows, blankets and chairs.
It was wet and damp, yet the contestants didn’t care. A beautiful blond girl by the name of Angi Palmer stood in line for hours just to get a less than 10 second chance to impress the producers! Wait, the producers? Yes, the producers. Only the fortunate ones got a yellow slip, which entitles them to come back and do it all over again in the next round.
What happens at the first day of tryouts? According to Brittany McCullough, the Kansas contestant, everyone was invited into the Target Center and seated according
to their wristband. Everyone warmed up their voices by singing to the Prince Song, “1999.” There were 11 tables set up with a black curtain set up in between the tables.
So what does it take to have a shot in front of the judges? Angi Palmer says, “An act of God. The producers didn’t even give me a fair chance, I sang for less than 10 seconds.” Angi is 23 years old and has been performing since she can remember.
Why did she try out anyway?
“God made me to sing and I can’t see myself doing anything else,” she said. “I received a musical theater major at Bethel University and they gave me 10 seconds!”
Angi waited in line from Tuesday night at 10:30 p.m. until 7 a.m. on Wednesday morning when the doors opened and she could register and get a wristband, so that she had a better chance of getting in on Friday. She arrived at 4 a.m. on Friday morning, and once again waited in line.
Has American Idol begun to lose its edge? “Not a chance, says Patrick Lynn, producer of all six seasons of American Idol. People see themselves in American Idol and love every part of the production.”
How popular is American Idol? “Well, over a half a billion votes have come in collectively from past years, if that answers your question! Last year over 30 million votes were called in on average every episode.” But how many people voted over 100 times?
So what possesses someone to stand in line for 12 hours? Is it for a shot at stardom?
“I’m only came to get out of school,” answered Anthony Anderson, a 17-year-old senior from Rosemount High School.His mother screamed, “Don’t print that!”
Some felt that the experience was worth a day of missing work. But others said that the thing that attracted them to American Idol is the lights, camera and action.