Australian X-Factor auditions
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"Experience is not what happens to you; it's what you do with what happens to you." -Aldous Huxley
Truth be told I have always had a great affection for George Plimpton in his “paper lion” days.
For those that might not know the late Mr Plimpton was a journalist who, while writing for Sports Illustrated produced a series of articles from the perspective of a “participatory journalist.”
Those adventures were and are a very important part of my development, Plimpton’s adventures used his ability, (through his intelligence & broad knowledge base) to “fake his way into some very intense professional sports situations, namely gridiron, baseball & boxing with varying degrees of success these articles in due course led him to produce a number of books written from the same perspective, the most memorable to my mind being “Paper Lion” in which he attempts to secure a spot with the Detroit lions Gridiron side as quarterback.
Curiosity and love of sports could be what led Mr Plimpton to chase these experiences.
For my part I have always been curious, but even in the broadest and most liberal interpretation I cannot be considered a sportsman, but I am a Musician & singer so I thought to myself in the spirit of Mr Plimpton I’d take myself down to the Melbourne auditions for the Australian version of the reality show X-factor.
Now in this age of “Reality Television” it seems that there is a new run of shows airing with each new month urging us to experience their particular brand of reality.
We should all know by now that not one of these productions offers us actual reality as that would be far too boring and besides aren’t we all living that already?
Each of these events is structured to distil the essence of reality down to a usable 1hour format.
I, like many of you have thought as each new show popped up… whether it’s the hunt for a new pop sensation, corporate mogul or bride/groom…
“Where do they get these people?”
So I loaded up my curiosity, note pad & digital camera and like a new millennium George Plimpton I took myself down to the Melbourne showgrounds to experience the X-factor auditions.
Maybe by the end of the day I will be able to answer the question…
What is the X factor?
The Wait & wait & wait…
I had expected the queue to be extremely long, as with that other talent search program, but the fact was that walk from the gate was much longer that the queue itself, the turnout was a little light.
All in all in seemed like less than 1000 people showed up on the first day of auditions.
As I joined the end of the queue I began to take a look around at my fellow auditioners in the diplomatically named 25+ category, some were working musos some dreamers and still others that had put their dreams on hold until this moment.
Some chatting, warming up, signing the releases production assistants were handing out & some beginning to feel the fear crawl under their skins, all straining at the bit to show that they are in full possession of the x-factor and waiting patiently for their shot.
As we queued we naturally broke off into smaller groups.
To my eyes they were: The passionate, the hopeful & the desperate and of course those that for one reason or another fail to fit into any classification… but we’ve all seen the blooper reels from these shows.
In small groups we were ushered inside past two tables where we were tagged with numbered X factor wristbands and pointed towards the first waiting room.
A barn-like room filled with row upon row of folding chairs, we were corralled, split off and pointed to sections with banners signifying our designations. “16 –25”, “25+” & “Groups”
While we waited for our numbers to be called we were encouraged to join groups in the back of the hall to shoot promos for the shows premiere, there were also roaming camera crews shooting impromptu one on one mini interviews conducted by Chloe the female host of the show (It wasn’t till later that I realised that Chloe was the former ‘just jeans’ spokesperson here in Australia) I was one of the few to be interviewed, on the subject of vocal warm-ups and encouraged to sing a bit of something, which I gladly did.
As we sat waiting for our numbers to be called some did vocal warm-ups others had mini jam sessions anything to keep themselves sharp and give their best performances when the time came.
Periodically there were CD giveaways & performances by many of the hopefuls arranged by the crew.
As I sat there waiting, taking snaps & mini vid camera and watching the many that came back rejected I thought to myself that although it was curiosity that brought me to the audition my vanity wanted me to do well.
I had decided to sing a Sam Cooke tune, “Bring it on home to me” not a tune that plays to today’s pop sensibilities but I sing it well and thought it would go down a treat.
Hours passed and it was my turn to step into the little audition room I had watched so many emerge from in defeat, I walked in, stood on my mark in front of two production assistants that looked as weary as the auditioners, opened my mouth to sing…
I think I got through most of a verse…
Before I heard …
“Thank you we won’t be letting you through”.
Well there it was, I did my thing and they did not believe I possessed that elusive x factor.
Whatever it is.
So what is the X-Factor?
If you want the answer I guess you’ll have to wait until the show airs but don’t get your hopes up for big answers.
For my part all I can say of my experience is…
”Reality…What a concept!”
Life is rhythm and rhythm is everything!