Auditioning for the X Factor

It is 6AM, and I am not standing in the rain. This is a beautiful thing. I spent the last two days observing how TV producers can use cult tactics to prove that humans will behave like cattle as long as they might get on TV.

The X Factor is Coming to Providence!

Wow! …What’s the X Factor? Is this good? Yes. It is good. In modern times it is part of the performing artist’s journey to try out for shows like these. The thought is something like this:

I’m amazing. People should want to watch me. I need media attention to show them that. I am at the mercy of Simon Cowell. Please tell me I am good. Please.

Some people are exactly what those TV producers are looking for. Yes, you have to be talented, but more importantly, you must fit the criteria they are looking for for their TV show. It is a big TV production, people. So spin those umbrellas and get soaked in the rain, because you could get famous and we need the footage, you good little cattle.

My Experience, Pre-registration day

I’ve never seen the X factor. I still have not seen the X factor. Why? Because I do not watch television. Honestly, I would probably watch the show. I like shows like that. I used to watch American Idol. I only remember a handful of people from American Idol including the squinty guy whose name I don’t remember and whose music I have never listened to. (I googled him just now, and his name is Clay Aiken). So when I heard that X Factor was coming, I didn’t really think that I would try it. If it were in Boston, I almost certainly would not have tried out. But then a friend suggested it. My first thought was that I am NOT what X Factor is looking for. I’m just that married white chick who prefers to perform with a guitar and says something awkward every time you see her. Then I realized that NOT trying out would be dumb. Plain dumb. I could practically walk to the auditions, I don’t have a job to get fired from, and it was a 1 in 100,000 chance at getting a 5 million dollar record deal. What really solidified it for me was finding out that L.A. Reid is a judge. I was starstruck. I was in. So several months in advance, I begged my mother to babysit for two days.

Cardi’s Skip the Line Competition and Song Selection

When I sing, I play guitar. It gives me something to sing along to, allows me to choose my key, offers me security and makes me look awesome. Naturally, I bring my guitar along when I play out. At the very least I use my leg as a drum. When I went online to pre-register for X Factor, I also read the rules. As soon as my eyes saw “A capella” I was perplexed. It wasn’t because I had always thought it was one word that started with the letter ‘o’. It was because I had no idea what I was going to do with my hands. I had tried to do the Christina Aguilera flailing arm thing at one point in my life and it just distracted me to the point where I got lost in the song. The good thing is that dilemmas like these never keep me from trying stuff. I am not afraid to look stupid on national television.

Webcams are good because not only can you see how you look when you perform, but you can send it to other people and ask what they think. I recorded two youtube videos of sample audition songs and another begging for people to watch them and tell me which they prefer. The majority preferred Summertime, so I chose that the song. A little while later I found out that Cardi’s Furniture was hosting a competition that would allow you to skip the line for the X Factor audition. This was appealing to me because I didn’t want to stand in line and it would be good practice. So I got another babysitter and stood in line at Cardi’s. This was the beginning of my journey of standing in line. There were some fun people around me and I never shut up the entire time. My feet were cold. Everyone was cold. I never wanted to be cold again. Can we just go inside the building already?! It’s big enough to hold all 200 of us. Sheesh!

I registered and even got myself a .2 second clip on the Rhode Show while registering. Then I went up an escalator and got really really really really nervous. This is the point when I realized that eating gluten for two months had been a terrible idea because it makes me get the shakes really easily. They brought us into a room full of chairs and sorted us into two groups. You could hear one loud Adelle audition after another through the thin walls. The line got shorter and shorter. The judges decided to take a bathroom break right before Spogga Hash was going to audition. He was standing in front of me in line for 3 hours. I had no idea that he was a talented and well known person until I got home and googled him.

You had 60 seconds to sing. Summertime happened to be a 60 second song. When I got into the audition room, I felt nervousness hit my throat. As a singer, this was a bad place for it to hit. At least if it hit my foot or something, that would be entertaining. I imagine I kinda looked like a toy soldier as I tried to sing and calm myself down at the same time. Then I left the room. We all returned at 7 to hear who got the skip the line passes. They were so good that I almost considered giving up at that point. I enjoyed their little concert and then I went home and added new strategy to my plan. I had learned quite a few things that day.

1) You need a song that gives you good stage presence. If you can’t get into it and move your arms to it, don’t sing it.
2) Wear warm clothes, particularly warm socks.
3) Bring water and don’t drink it. You’ll be thirsty but you will have to pee.
4) Ask the guy in front of you in line if he is very talented and well known. Exchange contact information.

Registration Day

The day before registration became hectic once I realized that I needed to buy snacks, drive my kids to my mother’s house, drive back to Rhode Island, have a dance class AND eat and sleep. We were late for dance class and I skipped most of the sleep part. The alarm went off at 3 AM. I snoozed it. Then I got out of bed, saw my face in the mirror and realized that I should still be asleep. I did the shower thing, put on layers of clothes, ate some food and got into the car with Dave who was kind enough to get up in the middle of the night with me.

To see other photos click here.

There were already a ton of people there at 5 AM. I estimate that I was somewhere between 300th and 400th in line. It was raining. Luckily I was wearing hiking socks, rubber boots, long johns, jeans, a t-shirt, a winter coat and a poncho. I couldn’t find an umbrella because I had hidden them all from my children and therefor myself. This turned out to be a good thing because the people with umbrellas got very wet and got other people very wet. I just faced toward the ground and stayed dry except at my hands, knees and neck. I think I was the warmest of all of us. There were four 19 year old males from Warwick next to me who must have popped out of bed and said, “Hey, let’s go try out for the X Factor.” They had no coats, no food, and nothing to keep them dry. I took pictures of water dripping off of their faces. To my right was a family from Ohio that were there just to give their daughter an idea of what she needed to improve on. Behind me was a girl group named Refined 313. They didn’t talk much. There was a woman with her niece from New York who had gone to a Korn concert the night before. Near me also was another woman from New York who was there with her mother who walked with a cane. There was also a well prepared teacher from East Providence. I spent many wet hours with these people. They did not want to sing We Will Rock you with me, but we did talk. We even talked about the rain. The line moved forward 2 feet at one point. Then it didn’t move again until around 10. I guess they had us broken into sections and the line didn’t move forward when people went inside. This led to hopelessness, screaming, chanting and the holding of the bladder. By 10:30 we got inside, gave our two forms of ID and got a ticket and a bracelet.

Now I had what I’d been waiting for, but no ride home and it was raining. I called my friend Penelope who saved me. We went to the Sandwich Hut and got my car and some food. I went home and took a nap which seemed like a total waste of kid-free time, but was much needed. Band practice was planned for that night so I moved it earlier and sang gentle songs. We planned to perform at the Spot Underground open mic this Tuesday. Then I got my clothes out and went to bed.

Audition Day

The alarm went off at 5. I was really feeling dance class in my legs today. This was the big day but it would be easier because we were all going to line up at 7 and then go straight inside to our seat. It would be cake.

Wrong. I got there at 6:30 and they made us squish together. It was pouring this time. People with British accents were speaking over the PA. “Get closer together. Your umbrellas will connect and you will all stay dry.” The lady behind me asked a security guard when they would be opening the doors and he told us it wouldn’t be until after 11. WHAT?! Why did we have to be there at 7 if the doors wouldn’t open until 11?!?!?!?!?


Because there were empty cars to wave at. That’s why. They needed the footage. They wanted us to dance around. They wanted us to twirl our umbrellas at the same time. They wanted us to close them and open them. This makes everyone much wetter than they were. They wanted us to put on makeup first. That was silly. We did this for hours. Then they had us cheer for empty vehicles escorted by police which were to represent the judges. That felt silly. I ate rice cakes and jumped around. I almost lost my eyes on umbrellas a few times. There were new people around me this time. We exchanged numbers.

It was 11:30 when we finally got to go inside. They had to search our bags for food before we went in. We couldn’t bring it in. I did, however, because I have food allergies and could prove it. But who wanted to eat when they were about to audition? I went in the bathroom and sang. I heard that was what you were supposed to do. I went to my seat. The guy to the right of me had auditioned for this season of the X Factor at every single audition place. He had made it all the way through all stages of the auditions at every single audition location and was just waiting for his call back. To my left was a mother with her very pretty 13 year old child actress and singer daughter. There were some nice people behind me. One 13 year old with a great personality was almost to tears with anticipation. There was a man from New Bedford who played in bands. Almost every person who was with me in line the day before hadn’t shown up this day. I put my Cookie Monster backpack in one of the empty seats.

In the middle of the floor were 36 audition booths which were made out of black sheets in the shape of a square with one open side. They were lining people into four rows in preparation for the auditions. By 2PM I was in one of these lines. I was doing great. I honestly didn’t know what they were looking for and didn’t believe I was it, so this wasn’t the biggest deal to me. I’d be fine. I had a mild tremor, but everyone around me was shaking. Grown men were telling me they were cold. It was cold, but not that cold.

I was amazed at the talent. Immediately before me to my left, a man auditioned. He was a gorgeous, strong, lean, young black man with perfect long braided hair and a voice that made me want to hug him and cry. They told him, “No.” THEY TOLD HIM, “NO.” OMG, can I please find him and get his number because I want to listen to him every day?! They told him “No.” To my right, a girl auditioned who was not nearly as good and she was hardly through the song and they told her, “Yes,” and she screamed and ran away with her gold ticket.

The gold tickets. They gave a ton of them out. One for every strangely dressed person. One to half of the over 30 white males. One to quite a few of the young black girls. A few to large white girls. I saw an obvious pattern. They were clearly looking for a certain part to fill. They gave out so many gold tickets that I knew there would be a lot of sad people the next day when they narrowed them down. They were filling a part for a TV show. A lot of the talent in the room was unnecessary to them. If you did get a gold ticket, I am really excited for you.

I got in my booth and the judge man asked how I was doing. He asked what I do for a living. He made a face when I said I was married. I sang Aretha Franklin’s “Think” and nailed it. The judge said, “No.” I said, “Thank you,” and got my wrist band cut. People kept saying, “Sorry,” and I didn’t know why. Thousands auditioned. Few were chosen. This was to be expected. I had a really fun time. Even in the rain, the conversation was fun. It was a new and unusual experience that I will never forget. I am glad to have had the opportunity. My only regret is that I didn’t get that guy’s name and contact information because he was SUCH a good singer. (Should have learned from my Cardi’s experience, huh?)

They had us leave the building immediately. I talked to a few people outside. Several of them had gotten a Yes. They were very excited and felt awkward when I said I hadn’t. *giggles* I took a bus home. My sister brought my kids back to me few minutes later. I was glad to have them. Last night I dreamed that my mother, cousin and sister-in-law had gotten golden tickets and I was jealous. I have funny dreams. I woke up really wanting to blog. So I did.

Click here to see some pictures We weren’t allowed to take them in the building. You are welcome to share my blog, also.

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7 Responses to Auditioning for the X Factor

  1. Malyssa says:

    Your blog is excellent and very interesting!

  2. Julie Moorhouse says:

    Ugh! Sorry you didn’t make it! It sounds like they already had an idea of what they were looking for and that talent wasn’t a factor. BTW, I went to see Spogga perform last night and was stunned when he said he didn’t make it! Saturday nights at Aspire. You should check him out!

  3. Ron says:

    Nice blog. I was there as well. I was one of the over 30s white males but unfortunately did not make it. I was in one of the last sections and I didn’t audition until 5:45 pm. I was ushered into cubicle 1 where a bored, tired British guy awaited me. He was cold and rude from the start. I nailed my audition and he never onced looked at me directly. He then said” I’m sorry but its a no”. I had no chance once I entered cubicle 1. I was hoping for one of the cubicles that had 2 women in it. They apparently were handing out gold tickets to everyone. Oh well. Keep singing!

    • TammyLaforest says:

      Yes, keep singing! They have a hard job, I understand. I really wonder what criteria they are looking for. It’s a mystery. 🙂 But, like I said, I didn’t actually think I was X Factor material. I have skills but it might not be what they want. But the guy before me…..*shakes head* He was perfect.

    • TammyLaforest says:

      Also, how did you find my blog. I am curious if it is showing up in search engines.

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