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Dispatches From the ‘American Idol’ Auditions Vol. V: Glory Daze

Despite my name, I lack musical talent. I was embarrassed when the busdriver asked me if I was going to the Idol auditions at the New Jersey Meadowlands yesterday–I nodded in a manner that tried to tell him I was going, but wasn’t auditioning. To the hopeful 15,000 that did show up to try out at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, it was about more than being on TV; many believed their lives were about to change. It’s hard to see the rationale, as some guessed that only around 110 wannabes were chosen, but one thing was for sure–they all thought they were American idols.

Walking into the gated entrance of the Continental Airlines Arena, the walls shook with practicing performers singing the national anthem as loud as they could. As I traveled further toward the entrances, some contestants appeared relaxed, even bored as they took siestas under the trees in the grassy areas that surrounded the stadium. Others found friends and formed powwows, sharing judging information for the next performers.

Swarms of losers filled the sidewalk outside the ticket office. The major networks interviewed the best and worst rejects to fill that minute and a half “fun” segment at the end of the news. There was no shortage of people to talk to.

As I approached one guy, he began gyrating his hips and talking into an Aquafina bottle. No one there seemed to possess even a hint of self-consciousness. Some stormed out of the stadium, cursing the judges and claiming that they didn’t give them enough time or attention. Hours of waiting to register and audition “was such a waste of time,” groused one unhappy lady.

A large young man refused to comment, although I did manage to pull a long quote in which he talked about the judges in language that can’t be repeated—let’s just say he had nothing good to say about them.

Hopefuls came from near and far. Tina Ohnmeiss and Ali Luce trekked from the heart of Pennsylvania at 5 in the morning to support their friend. Jamie Sutton and Billy Skoviak auditioned to fulfill a promise they made to their mothers back in the Midwest. They claimed that gimmicks helped get people into the next round, as they witnessed three utterly untalented but unusually dressed contestants make it to Hollywood by preying on the William Hung spots–those reserved for people whose fate lies in the coveted Idol blooper reel.

The ride back was filled with tired performers and an air of failure. I sat next to Jason Laudat, who echoed the sentiment about getting through with gimmickry. He was not prepared to sell his integrity for a little TV time. To him, it was merely a wasted day. Many shrugged it off and said they were sent home because they weren’t good for ratings, which they felt spoke nothing of their musical ability.

But who am I kidding. There was a shocking amount of untalented people in Jersey yesterday. Like the girl crying on the bus, and telling her friend, “the judges said I couldn’t sing!” Let’s face it, we all can’t be on American Idol. Because if we were, who would watch it?

By Intern Mike Singer