Radio Daze #4: Trying out for American Idol

In August 2008, I tried out for Season 7 of “American Idol.”  I didn’t make it.

The following is from my three-day adventure to try out for Season 7 of “American Idol” in Philadelphia:

SATURDAY, AUGUST 25th: From Syracuse to Philadelphia

SC&TB: I started off my day by going to the Sport Compact & Truck Blast at the Oswego Speedway.  Took a lot of pictures of pimped out rides, sweet trucks and hot girls. 
Marty kept trying to convince me that I should go drifting with him.  At first I thought I could handle it, but the first demos freaked me out.  Drifting is, for those who don’t know, racing with cars where the whole car turns and slides into the turn instead of the wheels actually turning.  However, a professional driver offered to take me and I agreed.  Click here to watch the video.  I felt like I was going to be sick – it was an intense 20 minutes of driving I’ve never done before.

From Oswego to PA: I left the Sport Compact & Truck Blast early to get to Philadelphia at a reasonable hour where I was going to be staying at a friends house.  The first thing I had to do when I crossed the state border was buy a Powerball ticket for Shannon.  Understandable, since I was in PA anyway and the lottery had gotten to $300 million.  We later found out we did not win.  But what about Idol?  Hmm…

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre: Scranton is on the way to Philadelphia, almost halfway exactly, so I figured it’d a nice place to stop and go grubbing with Ralphie, who you may remember from not so long ago here at HOT.  He moved down there and we had dinner at a place called Bart & Urby’s (to a deaf person, this sounds like Bert & Ernie’s, which I like better) and caught up on work, girls and Borat references.  I had hoped to find the “Welcome To Scranton” sign for a photo to brag to all my friends that watch “The Office,” but no such luck within the time constraints.  I did, however, find out that there is a “The Office” Convention taking place in Scranton on October 26-28.  Didn’t realize the show had reached cult status so big it could warrant a convention, but I’m intrigued as to what the speeches would be like.  Probably something like Dwight meets Benito Mussolini.

Manayunk & the Philly Cheesteak: Around 9:00pm I arrived in a section of Philadelphia called Manayunk where I met up with my friend of 10 years, Caitlin, at her apartment.  She was waiting for me with a Philly Cheesesteak and I tried it and it was good.  I couldn’t eat the whole thing, though, because my stomach was still a little uneasy from the drifting at the SC&TB.  There are pictures… keep reading to get to them!

Saturday Night Dead: I then trekked off to the suburbs of Philly to stay with my friend Alyssa and her family.  Alyssa and I have been friends since Day 1 of freshman year at SU so it was good to see her again and catch up.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 26th: Registration and King of Prussia

“Idol” Registration: I got to the Wachovia at 8:30am for registration, expecting a day-long wait in line.  The reality: I got my wristband in 5 minutes and was back to my car before 9:00am.  It can’t be this easy. 

King of Prussia: So with the whole day free, I could either do something touristy like run up the steps to the Rocky statue or check out the Liberty Bell… or I could do something fun with a friend.  Caitlin and I elected to go on a shopping binge at King of Prussia, which is a ridonkulously big mall similar in size to Carousel or Boston’s Prudential Mall.  Highlights included shoe shopping, a Hello Kitty store and a MAC cosmetics store.  Yeah, she did most of the binging.  Later we saw the movie “Superbad” (for my second time) and it was definitely a good way to spend the day, chillaxing and having fun before what was probably going to be a long Monday.

MONDAY, AUGUST 27th: Audition Day

5:06am: Arrive at the off ramp from highway for Wachovia.  Traffic helicopters circle the sport park like buzzards, preying on the dead and dying.

7:18am: Actually park the car.  I moved less than a mile in over 2 hours.  The line was HUGE.  I sent text messages to everyone saying not to expect me home for a week.  There are more girls than guys in line, and each girl has far too much makeup on.  Contestants have modeled themselves after previous Idols like Carrie, Daughtry, Fantasia, etc.  Without listening, you can cut half because they’re clearly there for fun (to get on TV), friends or trying to promote another career such as modeling, dancing, standup comedy, etc. 

9:30am: Inside the stadium.  The line moved surprisingly fast once they started letting people in.  Inside, we’re all singing the group song (“I Love Rock N Roll”) and cheering for Philadelphia.  This is all stuff you’ll see on TV.  I’m in section 223, look for me in January.

10:50am: After all the cheesy crowd cheering stuff, Ryan Seacrest himself came out to hype the crowd and record some interview for the first few episodes of Idol.  You really start to see just how “unreal” the reality TV is.

11:48am: They start listening to auditions.  Jeez.  They set up 15 tables with producers at each, listening to people in groups of 4.  No intros, no bios, just singing.  No judges.  If the producers decide the contestant is worthy of Randy, Paula and Simon’s time, they give them a golden ticket.  This includes the really bad singers, which will be the only golden ticket they see.

3:00pm: This is such a soul-crushing wait.  They’re not even half done.

4:27pm: I get a jumbo pretzel and a Mountain Dew and start wandering around while waiting for other contestants to audition.  I start noticing that most peopl are wearing outfits they wouldn’t wear on a daily basis, including cleavage-boasting camisoles, dresses and blazers and ties bought just days ago, and a full cast of I-want-to-be-on-TV sycophants including Wonder Woman, Bat Girl, an angel, a dude in a tux and cap, Elvis lookalikes, a Guitar Hero ripoff and, the topper, a fat white dude who ripped off his robe mid-song to reveal he was wearing a Princess Leia gold bikini.  Ew.

8:32pm: My section finally gets called down to the floor.  I’m surprisingly nervous.

10:12pm: I actually get to sing in front of a producer, a nice British lady.  I sing “I Believe I Can Fly.”  She immediately makes a weird face, like she suspects I have something wrong with me.  When I get to the chorus, she laughs.  This could be good or bad. 

10:16pm: Elimination.  “Thank you for coming out, but it’s just not what we’re looking for at the moment.”  I am NOT the next American Idol.  I immediately text everyone the heartbreaking news.

10:17-10:48pm: Text responses as I trudge out: “Awww well u are still an idol to me haha”… “LOL!  Love it!”… “You’re MY idol.”… “Aww im sure you did great anyways :)”… “haha are u going to be on tv lol”… “That sucks ur still a star in my eyes!”

(sigh)  I waited 17 hours for this.

So I’m not the next American Idol and you may not even see me on TV for season 7.  But for now you can enjoy the audition songs I practiced with (watch the 6 videos here) and see all the photos I took on my trip:

In a way it’s good that I didn’t make the first cut.  Otherwise, the release form would probably prevent me from telling you guys all about this.  The first rule of American Idol is, you do not talk about American Idol.  Hope you guys enjoyed following my trip, but unfortunately my journey (as Seacrest would say) ends here.