You demanded it, so here it is. Okay, demand is a strong word. Requested is more appropriate. And really, it wasn’t everyone. It was just Paul and Shaz. But since they’re two of my oldest blogging friends, when they say jump, I say how high.
I mentioned in my 30 Questions post over the weekend that I once went to try out for American Idol. It’s a story I could’ve sworn I’ve told before, but at the same time I wasn’t sure. So I took a chance and listed it as a fact that a lot of people don’t know about me.
It’s not a life event I talk about very much. Because it obviously amounted to nothing. And since two of my oldest blogging contacts asked to read that story, I guess I’ve never actually gone into detail about that experience. So here it is…
It was the summer of 2005. Carrie Underwood had recently blown the competition away as the fourth season winner of American Idol. And that may have been my inciting incident for deciding to try out. I figured, if I got onto American Idol for season five, maybe there’s a chance I’d be able to meet Carrie Underwood.
Kinda had a big crush on Carrie back in the day.
I’ve always had a decent singing voice. I’m my own worst critic and I actually can’t stand the sound of my own voice. But I was once told by a music professor in college that I had the strongest tenor voice he’d ever heard. That was encouraging. But I still don’t let that kind of thing give me a big head or anything. I still can’t stand the sound of my voice.
But I figured, if I was ever going to take my shot, American Idol would be the easiest way to do so. I was 25. And I’m pretty sure, at that point, their cut off age was 29. So I didn’t have a lot of years left to give it a try.
I did my homework. I scoured the Idol website for information on trying out. That year, the closest big city holding auditions was Boston. Which really isn’t close to my hometown of Roanoke, Virginia, at all. But, if I remember right, it was my best option.
Anyway, I prepared everything that I needed to get together. Filled out the right forms. Booked a hotel room in the Boston area. Made sure my car was in good shape for a road trip. And then I hit the road.
I remember leaving late in the evening, prepared to drive all night so I could get to the football stadium early enough to make some kind of difference. By the way, getting to the stadium early made no difference.
I stood in line for a couple hours. Then we were all filed into the seats. About 10,000 of us. Oh… and it was raining.
This was when the last remains of Hurricane Katrina were slowly moving through New England. I assume that the weather was great for all these people who were about to try and sing for their lives.
I spent a good chunk of my drive practicing a few songs that I felt comfortable singing a capella. I toyed with the idea of performing “Rainbow Connection” whilst doing my best Kermit the Frog impression. I wound up going with “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts.
When it was time for people to start singing, they directed large groups down by sections. They led everyone down to the field where they had a bunch of tailgate tents set up along the sidelines. That’s where they would divide everyone up into groups of four-ish and then point those groups to specific tents.
Under the tents, we found a table where three “judges” were seated. No clue who these people were. No idea if they had any musical knowledge or experience. They were probably just interns paid by Fox to decide who they thought would be good on TV.
I didn’t make the cut. None of the people from my group of four made the cut. And there was one guy who was really good, too.
I know myself. And I know I have zero stage presence. I could have the best voice in the world, but I’d be boring to watch singing one of Billy Joel’s greatest hits on television. Maybe I should have gone with “Rainbow Connection” after all. But I’d have probably had to dress up like Kermit while doing the voice.
I remember seeing a guy dressed up in a spiked suit of armor. He made the cut. I know because I remember seeing him on TV when the season aired. He had a terrible voice and made Simon Cowell roll his eyes.
Like I said before, I booked a hotel room. I wasn’t sure how long I would need it, so I booked for the whole week. Just in case.
Because the deal was, if I got past the interns, I’d get a pass to the next round and a chance to sing in front of Randy, Paula, and Simon. And that could have happened on either of the next two days. I figured, “What if I make it…?”
Since I didn’t make it, I only needed the room for one night. And since I booked through a third-party site, I couldn’t cancel after only one night. So I got an impromptu vacation in Boston. And since I didn’t actually have vacation money, I basically spent the next three days hanging out in a hotel room.
It was awesome.
I still haven’t met Carrie Underwood. But number 5 on my Bucket List is to sing a duet with her. So if anyone can arrange that, I promise not to embarrass you. Or her. Or myself.