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Thread: NZ Idol - a cautionary tale

  1. #1
    Hall of Fame Member Smudge's Avatar
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    NZ Idol - a cautionary tale

    With the second series of this musical/television extravaganza coming up, I thought I would share the following article with you - courtesy of the Ashburton Guardian,

    I wrote this little piece after my unsuccessful audition for the first series of NZ Idol:

    [IMG]http://groups.msn.com/_Secure/0RwCfAngWwj5Cddj543*yOt9PixUphrMXmaKqZIfwqSn5qNFCp XxP2p4DRyr2y2dpTfW*a6hnVngF!TxxD7JRpVjdQV6amcohxRj dDWUcdQo/guardian.jpg[/IMG]

    Dreams shattered in just 20 seconds. All your plans of becoming the next Michael Jackson put by the wayside (OK, maybe a bad example). Back to your old job on Monday. All these thoughts popped into Ashburton Guardian reporter Matt Smith’s head as he walked out of the NZ Idol auditions a broken man. He shares his experience of the rigorous process.

    <STORY>


    It’s official – I’m just another statistic.

    Despite my mother telling me for years I was unique, I became a number on Friday January 16 – number 2585 to be precise.

    This was the first sign that I was entering the human equivalent of a freezing works yard – the South Island auditions of the NZ Idol competition.

    This global phenomenon captured New Zealanders' imaginations when the American and Australian versions graced our television screens last year, and it was only a matter of time before young New Zealanders were warming their voices up for a New Zealand version of the competition.

    The first step, which yours truly managed to complete, was filling out the entry form. Apparently they managed to cull around 17,000 hopefuls from that process, although it was hardly rocket science. Perhaps they weren’t accepting X as a signature?

    With confidence high and fear low, I turned up at Christchurch’s Riccarton racecourse on that fateful Friday at 7:10am. Surrounded by other wannabe pop stars as about 1000 of us waited in line, I kept my thoughts to myself and focused on what life would be like living in hotel room after hotel room, having my choice of alcohol and women available to me at the click of my fingers.

    Those around me were casually talking about what they had done in the past and warbling out a few notes, as though to test the other sheep to see if they could bleat as well as them.

    The line moved forward at a pace even a snail would be ashamed of. After an hour and a half, we had moved around 60 metres, and the first of the hopefuls began trickling out from the audition process. I wasn’t there when the airship Hindenburg went down, but "Oh, the humanity" summed up the look on the faces of the failed aspirants as they headed back from whence they came. These sheep hadn’t been picked up for further verbal poking and prodding and were off home to baa themselves to sleep.

    After four energy-sapping hours, I made it inside to register. Just another 15 minutes, I thought to myself.

    However, it was through to the "holding room" – another sign that we were livestock waiting for the cull or the go-ahead.

    Two more hours of twiddling my thumbs (actually, reading a book) passed before the next move on the singing star conveyor belt. A hush fell over the holding room every time New Zealand Idol officials came through to read out the next set of lambs to the slaughter.

    "2585".

    My ears pricked, my throat went dry, and my brow suddenly experienced the type of moisture Mid Canterbury farmers have been crying out for.

    But this did not mean I was about to make the first step towards stardom just yet. It simply meant a smaller, yet more intimate holding pen where a butter knife would have sufficed for cutting the tension. About 10 of us sat side-by-side muttering nervously and making small talk.

    Just before I went in, a television camera was thrust into my face. I had to tell the cameraman - who was holding up well despite having probably done hundreds of these boring interviews by this stage - how I thought I would do, and whether I thought I could be the next New Zealand Idol. I played my cards close to my chest, saying I had to be in to win.

    At 1:50pm it was time. I strode in purposefully, and waited for the judge, former Split Enz member Eddie Rayner, to tell me to go ahead. The first 20 seconds of "Ain’t That A Kick In The Head" by Dean Martin passed my lips before Mr Rayner politely told me that was enough.
    I knew straight away that the dream was over.

    "Your voice isn’t great. It’s OK, but it’s not great," Mr Rayner said.

    I nodded and mumbled my thanks, and quickly left the room. As I opened the door, the same cameraman asked how I did. I feigned success before admitting that things hadn’t gone as well as I had hoped.

    So after six and a half hours, this sheep had been moved throughout the works and come out not with my throat cut, but any chance of a recording contract severed.

    I could take small solace from the fact I was not the only one, and I had not travelled anywhere near as far as some people.

    Megan Armstrong, 22, had made the six-hour car journey from Alexandra to the auditions, and while her claim for fame was unsuccessful, she would make the trip again if there was another audition.

    "I was always going to do it," Ms Armstrong said.

    She was still not sure why she didn’t make it through to the next round, as the judge gave her no feedback. However, that didn’t really bother Ms Armstrong.

    "I was happy with the way I performed."

    Christchurch resident Amy Reid, 26, did not travel as far but was still a little disappointed.

    She also received no feedback from the judge.

    "I wanted to know why I didn’t get into the next round," Ms Reid said.

    Ms Reid had no regrets about entering as she prepared for the jibes she would get from the children she taught as a primary school teacher.

    However, some were not so keen to even see the competition go ahead. A couple of protesters gave the mainly-unemployed security guards something to do as they came to denounce the NZ Idol idea.

    The pair brandished a sign bearing the rhetorical question: "Can someone tell me where True Bliss is? I can’t find them."

    True Bliss was the world’s first reality TV-based band, created in New Zealand a few years ago.

    The protesters had other signs that were a little more direct, but a little more blasphemous.

    They were quickly shown the door, and the only sadness left was on the faces of my fellow failures as they trudged their way down the steps and out the gates it had taken them so long to enter.
    Last edited by Smudge; 13-05-2005 at 09:38 PM.

  2. #2
    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Mister Wright's Avatar
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    Quality stuff. Made my day.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard
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    The color of immortality, nature and envy - you are truly a unique person. While clearly the color of nature, you also symbolize rebirth, fertility and hope in the world. On the other side of the spectrum, a natural aptitude to money with green coming to signify money and possibly even *********!

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    Cricket Web XI Moderator lord_of_darkness's Avatar
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    That was good reading haha .. good one Matt.. ill try auditionin for season 3 perhaps im too late atm..
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    Nice article


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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend andyc's Avatar
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    very good reading... next time you try out though, you should wear your mascot suit, thatll really impress the judges
    Quote Originally Posted by flibbertyjibber View Post
    Only a bunch of convicts having been beaten 3-0 and gone 9 tests without a win and won just 1 in 11 against England could go into the home series saying they will win. England will win in Australia again this winter as they are a better side which they have shown this summer. 3-0 doesn't lie girls.

  6. #6
    Global Moderator Somerset's Avatar
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    Haha, great stuff Voltman, hard luck on not being able to make your mark on the musical word though. I gather you're not trying out again for this season?

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    Hall of Fame Member Smudge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Somerset
    Haha, great stuff Voltman, hard luck on not being able to make your mark on the musical word though. I gather you're not trying out again for this season?

    You only get one chance with The Voltman!! They miss out...

  8. #8
    Hall of Fame Member Smudge's Avatar
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    And here's a few hints for those lining up in the auditions at the moment:



    http://www.stuff.co.nz/stuff/southla...7a6565,00.html

    The second series of NZ Idol has begun, with Southland hopefuls heading to Christchurch for auditions on Tuesday and Wednesday. Washed-up Idol contestant and Southland Times reporter Matt Smith passes on a few tips from his brief bid for stardom last year.

    Preparing for an audition on NZ Idol requires more than just a tune-up of the vocal chords.

    Hours on the treadmill, pounding the pavements, and perhaps a Kiwihost course may not be out of order, as the audition process tests physical endurance, patience and more than a smidgen of grace.

    It's not so much the 20 seconds in front of a sullen-looking judge, but the five to six-hour wait beforehand that will bring Southland contestants to the brink of insanity.

    So how do you get past the first round of auditions?

    I didn't make it that far, but I picked up a few hints along the way.

    What NZ Idol needs from you
    :

    - Take your original birth certificate or passport or drivers licence for identification. Bring your legal guardian if you're under 18. Older friends or relatives will not be accepted.
    - Bring your audition letter.

    What to wear:

    This depends on personality, but think of it like a Christmas tree – too many dangly bits and bright colours, and the judges may think you lack real substance.

    Female hopefuls need to be careful not to cross the line from classy to skanky – it's a dangerous line to tread if you happen to get Jackie Clarke, the new female judge, as the assessor of your voice.

    Blokes – leave the bling-bling for American rappers. But that doesn't mean you should dress down.

    A tidy shirt, a half-decent pair of strides, and a winning smile should suffice.

    Have a shave (unless your planned look is "washed-out rocker") and carry some deoderant with you – to keep you smelling fresh despite the mammoth queues you will encounter.

    My mix of a stunning striped shirt and classic loose-fit Levi jeans didn't seem to disturb the judges too much – but here's the crux of it: if you feel stupid, chances are you look stupid.

    South Pacific Pictures publicist Tamar Munch has another piece of advice – dress warm.

    What to sing
    This – and my apparent lack of talent – may have been my downfall.

    The key here is to choose a song that does not put the judge to sleep, have the judge reaching for the giant hook, or even forces them from the room screaming for their mother.

    I decided to honour one of my idols, Dean Martin, by banging out a rendition of Ain't That A Kick In The Head. In hindsight, perhaps a song written in the last 35-40 years may have been a better option.

    I auditioned in front of former Split Enz keyboard player Eddie Rayner and, aside from saying my voice was "Okay, but not great", he said my choice of song did not really fit in with what the producers were after.

    Clearly my complete ignorance of Justin Timberlake's back catalogue put me at some disadvantage.

    You need something mainstream but with a bit of a twist.

    I'm sure the judges will be rather frustrated if, come 5pm on Tuesday, they hear the 43rd butchered attempt of Angels by Robbie Williams.

    Likewise for ad nauseam versions of Mariah Carey's Hero.

    Something from the Motown era always goes down well, but remember – you only have 20 to 30 seconds to impress, so make sure it's a song with variety and class.

    So that rules out any Aqua or Billy Idol.

    What to expect.

    Lines – big lines.

    Despite turning up at the ungodly hour of 7.30am outside the gates of Riccarton Racecourse in Christchurch last year, it was almost 2pm when I had my moment of truth.

    In between, I was subjected to suspicious stares from other contestants, wary of what ability may lie beneath my calm exterior, and impromptu singalongs which reminded me of something from the Mickey Mouse Club.

    A good supply of food, warm clothes and maybe a book or two might be a good idea to get you through the day.

    Endurance training before the event may be a good idea, as you could be kept on your feet for several hours, and may have to jog on the spot to keep warm.

    Several radio stations DJs will probably descend on the waiting auditionees like vultures to a carcass, trying to drum up excitement.

    My advice on how to deal with these rabble rousers? Just nod and smile, nod and smile.

    Avoid talking to others as they will be trying to psyche you out, and should be treated as enemies. Remember, it's more than just a game.

    Your chances:
    Let's be honest – by the end of the audition process, most of you will feel like the kid left on the sideline during a game of playground soccer.

    But – as long as you're between 16 and 28 – there's always next year, right?

  9. #9
    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend andyc's Avatar
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    awesome stuff there, matt.

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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Top_Cat's Avatar
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    Sad. This just isn't what music is about. What was said in the article is depressing, Matt (the article is great, though).

    That said, I maintain that this sort of thing and corporate music will ultimately benefit music in general; people who don't fit the pop mould won't even try to make it in the pop world and will just concentrate on doing the music they want rather than trying to compromise for success. And record companies will continue making money out of the pop acts so won't be trying quite so hard to recruit at the grass-roots level.

    Anyway sorry for divirging from the thread topic, Matt. I personally will find it very interesting when you audition for NZ Big Brother (if there is to be one).
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  11. #11
    Hall of Fame Member Smudge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Top_Cat
    Sad. This just isn't what music is about. What was said in the article is depressing, Matt (the article is great, though).

    That said, I maintain that this sort of thing and corporate music will ultimately benefit music in general; people who don't fit the pop mould won't even try to make it in the pop world and will just concentrate on doing the music they want rather than trying to compromise for success. And record companies will continue making money out of the pop acts so won't be trying quite so hard to recruit at the grass-roots level.

    Anyway sorry for divirging from the thread topic, Matt. I personally will find it very interesting when you audition for NZ Big Brother (if there is to be one).
    Please bear in mind I used a fair bit of creative license and hyperbole in this wee piece...

    And Big Brother? I don't think my body would meet the grade for the Uncut sections.




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