First of all, I will give you advice for next year's show, and one of my top pieces of advice is: come super early. If you live in a city hosting auditions (as I did), then you have no excuse not to camp out overnight. In the case of Halifax, they were letting people line up at 3pm the previous afternoon (Sunday). This is something I might have done were it not for my responsibilities, overall (lack of) preparedness, and the fact that there was no bus service and that the downtown was closed to all vehicles and pedestrians! I mean, reallly, now.
I would also advise you not to drink caffeinated beverages of any kind (cola, coffee, Barq's, Dr. Pepper) because that will exacerbate your natural nervousness. In my case, I was literally shaking all morning, and people were asking me if I was okay - I was, and I told them, "Well, I can't help it, I get like this watching CPAC." (the Canadian equivalent of C-SPAN) One of Edgar's fast friends offered me a steep of his Tim Horton's herbal tea, which calmed me down quite a bit, but I started shaking again as soon as the tea ran out. By then I was in the line for the groups-of-5 auditions and I could not go back for more hot water. (Those Tim Horton's herbal tea bags kick ass - I got three steeps out of it and was still drinking good tea. Just don't add milk - milk and hot water make a natural sedative. So now I know why I get sleepy after drinking tea (which doesn't normally even have caffeine to begin with) and why coffee doesn't last as long as it ought to. I am exceptionally sensitive to stimulants and depressants (and hallucinogens, but that is another story) of all kinds, so I have to really be smart and selective with those things, especially in public where I am always more excitable than usual. I am now drinking both coffee and tea without milk or sugar (sugar is for wimps).
My other advice, and they will tell you this, is that you have to own the room when you audition. Pick a song that you feel passionate about and that has a really juicy verse and chorous (that's all you'll get to sing in your first audition - complete songs come later on in the process if you manage to jump through the hurdles). You should also dress well.
But most important above all, you have to figure out how to work the system. Look at _juju_ for an excellent example. I haven't heard him sing, and maybe he's pretty good, but I can't weigh in on that either way. But he knew how to stand out, and last year he even got on TV. This year he got to go to the celebrity judges. In fact, he worked the system so well that he got a pink slip even though he orginally wasn't going to get one - it's all about who you talk to!
My friend Edgar also got a pink slip. I kept whispering to him to be more careful when the executive producer was asking us questions, since he and his producer lakeys were most likely watching our every move. "When do we get paid?" he once asked. Then he said to me, "You gotta stand out, Will." I should have listened. It's so ironic that any failiure of mine could be partly due to not standing out. When the executive producer asked, "Why are you here?" my first impulse was to shout part of the truth: "To lose my virginity!" Of course that would have made it a manifest prophecy in reverse, though I probably would have been labelled as a character, and that would have helped me. I confided what I was going to say to Edgar, and he laughed. His shouted response to the question was, "I want the free trip to Toronto!" (Of course, getting to Toronto and back by air costs barely more than $200 CDN these days if you book ahead, but that doesn't make it any less of a wonderful, magical place.) The whole time I was afraid I would be labelled as a nutcase since I was sitting with Edgar and our new friend. It turned out I was afraid of the wrong thing. So, next year I intend to be as crazy as I feel like.
Moving ahead to the audition, I was in a group with two foxy women and two pretty-good looking ones. "What great framing!" I said as I got into the line. Sitting next to the Doors to Doom, the girl on my right, 01367, mentioned that she had a cold. The girl on my left, 01365, kept asking about the next steps, as if she would be proceeding through all of them. Then we watched the group before us all pile out, no pink slips among them. Then it was our turn. 01363 sang "Blue Moon Kentucky," 01364 sang "Amazing Grace," and 01365 sang "My Immortal." Then it was... gulp! my turn!
All the time leading up to my turn I was wondering if I should lead off with "The Last Saskatchewan Pirate," a song I feel really passionate about. But instead I went with my original plan and sang the first bit of "America." I stepped up to the X and started to sing, maybe not being so very encouraged that he said he liked Simon & Garfunkel. And while my pitch was on and my voice was clear, all my determination to be composed and own the room flew out the window. I could barely keep from trembling. I couldn't look the executive producer in the face.
I stepped away, and the girls cheered for me. Then 01367 sang "You Make Me Feel (Like a Natural Woman)" very well, despite her cold. And then she was asked to stay and the rest of us were thanked for coming. Well, I had a feeling about her. I told her we were lucky after we had been told we were getting the executive producer himself.
I do have lots more things to say, but I must go rehearse now.