The “American Idol” Audition Experience
Lived and Written by Tyler Matl
(In this article, Parcbench.com guest columnist Tyler Matl [pronounced like “model” – remember that name] shares with us his experience trying-out for next season’s “American Idol.” Tyler is 16 years old, and has been singing since he was 5. He plays the piano and a little guitar, and is an up-and-coming songwriter in the Nashville scene. Click here to hear one of his recent songs. Since most of his writing material comes from his life experiences, who knows – maybe we’ll hear a song about his “American Idol” audition on the radio someday…)
I didn’t get very much sleep. None actually. There were so many different nerves and emotions running through me to even try to sleep. Then again, what was the point? I was getting up in three hours anyway to register for “American Idol!” My best friend was coming over in two hours to register with me as well. I was really excited.
Music has been part of my whole life. I’ve been performing locally in places such as the Bluebird Cafe, Commodore Lounge, and Douglas Corner Cafe… but nothing as big as “American Idol.” At 3:00 a.m. my best friends came over and then we all left to go get the wristbands that would secure us a place in the long line of people trying to be the next American Idol. (You have to get there early to get a good number so that the judges will actually listen to you.)
We arrived at Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville at 4:00 a.m. There were already at least 1000 (maybe even 2000) people waiting to get their wristband. A lot had camped out overnight. There were some not so friendly people in the crowd. One man actually cursed at me because I wasn’t walking fast enough. And at one point a fight broke out between two people, which caused a lot of chaos.
I ran into some people I know (like this guy named Zach Swift who is a really talented singer). At 7:00 am the line started to move! On the way to the front of the line, TV camera people went by us and we waved, and hooted and hollered, and everything else we could think to do that might get us on TV. The line moved quickly and I was at the front door in about twenty minutes. Once inside, the process went quickly; you get your wristband and go. So I was pumped. I was officially going to try out for “American Idol”!
I didn’t get any sleep at all because I couldn’t stop thinking about what would happen if I made it on the show. We arrived there at about 4:00 a.m. There were already almost 25,000 people there! This time I was there with my mom. My ticket number was right after my best friend so I would be sitting next to her once they let us inside.
All was calm until the sun came up and slowly voices started to ring out from all over the crowd. At that moment I heard some of the most beautiful, angelic voices I’d ever heard. It was also at that moment that I realized that the people who try out for “American Idol” all think they can sing. You expect them to sound good, and then they open their mouth, and SCREEEECH! Yeah, I heard a lot of “screechers” this day. But there was also a lot of great talent.
Nothing happened for at least an hour.
We all stood around waiting to get in while they filmed us. Once we got in we were ushered to our seats and everyone was instructed right away that they were going to be filming the crowd doing more opening scenes and that unless we did what they asked it would hurt our chances because they wanted people with personality. So they had us cheer a lot and say things like “I’m the next American Idol,” or “Welcome to Nashville!” At one point that had everyone who brought an instrument get it out and yell “It’s ‘Music City!”
Then the auditions began!
They auditioned people seated from the bottom up, and from left to right. The first row had a V.I.P. section of Disney winners who had won a contest in Florida and were flown out to Nashville. They only had about 200 slots total to fill on the show from each state where auditions were being held.
They split us up into groups of four and put each group at a table. I was third in my group to sing. I sang “Broken” by Seether. While I sang, I could really see the judges getting into it. One of the judges was tapping her foot, and the other was smiling. Then they just stopped me and called for the next singer. Each of us probably only got to sing for about ten seconds. Then, after my group went, they kept looking at me and talking to each other and smiling and shaking their heads as if they were trying to decide. I was really, really excited. Then they called us forward all at once to tell us if we made it or not.
This is what they said: “You all have a lot of great talent and potential, but as you know we are looking for more than just a good look and a pretty face. Unfortunately, none of you are what “Season 10” is looking for. But come back next year!”
Needless to say, I was disappointed. But I knew I tried my best. It was a great experience and I honestly think the best part of it was just how much fun I really had meeting people and hearing all the great talent there is out there. I won’t forget it. It definitely hasn’t stopped me from following my dreams.
Do you want to audition for “AMERICAN IDOL”?
WHO: Men and women 15-28 years old as of July 17, 2010, who are eligible to work in the U.S. Some restrictions apply.
New Orleans, LA… Monday, July 26… Mahalia Jackson Theater of the Performing Arts
East Rutherford, NJ… Tuesday, August 3… Izod Center
Austin, TX… Wednesday, August 11… Frank Erwin Center
San Francisco, CA… Thursday, August 19… AT&T Park