Now that singing is so cool that every network has a reality contest where any unknown can duke it out for a career, I thought it would be fun to do a series about the shows…
And the auditions, the people that end up on them, and more importantly, whether the auditions processes for them are actually real or just another form of advertising for the show.
And I figured I would have plenty of singers out there blasting me if I didn’t do my research, so that started with going ahead and auditioning for NBC’s “The Voice” a few weeks ago just to get the inside look.
The Los Angeles auditions were at The Forum, which was ironically, the first place I ever saw a live concert as a bratty teen, and no it wasn’t something super cool like Springsteen or Metallica or even Janet Jackson, it was a thankfully forgettable band by the name of Spandau Ballet, who frankly, I didn’t really follow much. But someone had an extra ticket and they were on the radio. And more importantly, my very Catholic mother did not allow me to go to concerts, so it was a coup to even just to see people playing instruments live. I have no idea why she said yes. Probably because it was Spandau Ballet and someone had told her there was no chance there would be Satanists there. And…there weren’t.
Anyway, let’s just say The Forum has seen better days. And so has notoriously gang-ridden Inglewood which houses it. I’m sure there were plenty of people who were shocked that a big Hollywood TV show was holding auditions in the heart of the ghetto, but I think it’s safe to say they got a really good deal on the rent. The place looks like crap. However, this only made me nostalgic because I grew up about 10 miles away in similarly dirt poor Gardena, so ghettos are kind of my comfort zone.
Check out my video below for a quick snapshot of the surroundings.
The LA auditions were two days, and through the online auditions process, you got a day and time slot. I showed up at mine considerably early since you never know how long a drive will actually take in LA now, but was told by the parking guy that they were starting our block of peeps early. So I went in.
They immediately ask you if you need to use a restroom to do that first. Which leads you to your first glamorous stop: the neverending line outside the ladies room (guys, of course, didn’t have one).
After that, we were shuffled through several sets of lines, where someone on the production staff gives you a very serious spiel about how no cameras are allowed EVER UPON PENALTY OF DEATH. They also tell you that if you’re going to sing a really old song like At Last or Somewhere Over the Rainbow or something from the 40’s, that you should reconsider because they “are looking for a contemporary artist who can present contemporary material.” The interesting part of this speech to me was it wasn’t given to everybody. Just those of us who got their first for the “opening.” And it wasn’t handed out as a set of instructions as information that everyone had access to. The last announcement was to treat the audition as a performance and use the “stage” (room) as you would on a real stage. This directly conflicted with later instructions to “Stand on the piece of tape in front of the auditioner” which I am starting to wonder wasn’t a trick of some kind to see who is brash enough to defy the instructions. Personally, I found it confusing.
You submit your signed release and then they wristband you and divide you up into groups of ten. Then they proceed to walk you around to different waiting areas that get closer to the audition room. There’s no real warm up time. But thankfully there weren’t a lot of divas doing scales.
In the audition room, the auditioner gave us an intro about everybody supporting each other while we sang and doing their best (and yes, standing on the tape). And then she said the weirdest thing of the day. She said, “well…yesterday we gave everyone a verse and a chorus, so we’re going to do that again today. So go ahead and do a verse and a chorus…” It was weird because it sounded like she was subliminally saying, “This show has already been cast, and I don’t even really need to hear you sing, so make this as short as possible, so I can go home early.” Or maybe I’m just jaded. That’s what I heard come out of her mouth.
She was very nice as everybody sang and bobbed her head up and down and said, “Great job!” after every person. And every once in awhile she would type something into her computer. I really wanted to see whether she was just goofing off on the internet or not. I have my suspicions. I’ve been around LA awhile and the auditioner looked to me more like an actress than a talent scout. She was wearing a hat. Who wears hats in LA? I’ll tell you who. Actresses.
In my group of ten, I can honestly say there were two people who just didn’t belong there. The rest were GREAT singers and gave solid performances. All had something truly special about the way they sing. One was AMAZING.
Nobody was sent through to the callback. I talked to several other professional singers that I know went to different audition locations around the country and all said the same thing in their groups. We’ll talk about all that later when I get to whether this whole thing is a scam, but I was personally astounded when the amazing girl didn’t get her second shot. Because she was certainly what you would expect to see on the show.
Tune in next chapter when we’ll talk about TV, scams, and singing scandals…
Originally posted 2011-09-28 07:57:59.