Let me preface this by saying that I am a longtime “American Idol” fan. As a former singer and performer, nothing is more exhilarating than watching other people compete and either knock it out of the park or bomb big-time. Perhaps the most compelling part of the “Idol” journey is the audition process. Not only is it entertaining, but also every person alive (whether talented or untalented) can relate to that moment of waiting to fulfill a dream: to perform on Broadway, score the winning basket, get married, land that job. The feeling is universal. But am I surprised that the Daily Beast is calling the “Idol” audition process “a myth?” Not really. Because isn’t the entire show “a myth”? The success of “Idol” has always rested on the illusion they’ve so carefully constructed; that a person with a dream can show up to Random City, USA, sing, and end up a star 12 weeks later. Technically, yes. But really, no. From the auditions to the judging to the voting, you are fooling yourself if you think that the show is anything more than a well-orchestrated, prime-time talent show. Big bucks, big planning, careful casting, and big editing goes into its formulaic success. When the myth is debunked you can see the man behind the curtain; the show is about the discovery of talent that already exists, people who have been working hard for their dream, with a few semi-talented, “relatable” stock characters thrown in here and there. Powerful execs calling all the shots. But does that mean I like it any less? Of course not. I just see it for what it is. And so should you. Read on for some “Idol” audition secrets that producers don’t want you to know.
Myth: There are enough auditioners to fill a stadium in every city.
Reality: The average number of auditioners is 6,000 to 8,000.
Myth: People wait in massive lines to audition.
Reality: Those massive lines are stock footage. Hopefuls wait in line to register and be screened and then come back weeks later with a number if they make the cut to audition.
Myth: The majority of the auditioners are freaks and weirdos.
Reality: The freaks and weirdos just get more screen time. The majority are talented people.
Myth: Many auditioners seem to pick the same song.
Reality: People who make the cut are instructed to download lyrics to a particular song and learn it. A coach runs them through it before auditions.
Myth: The judges do all of the judging.
Reality: Specially hired scouts and then producers screen all contestants before they ever set foot in front of the judges.
Myth: The judges do the judging once the contestants are in the room.
Reality: Yes. But not totally. Between the screening round and the actual filmed auditions, producers coach the contestants about what songs to sing, how to behave, etc.
Myth: The “bad” contestants really think they have a shot.
Reality: Nope. Producers tell everyone straight out, “Some of you are here because you’re good and some of you are here because you’re bad.”
Myth: The auditions that get screen time are random.
Reality: Producers are already in Hollywood Week when the auditions air, therefore, auditions are edited with outcome in mind.