C'mon people! After six seasons, we get that the first few weeks of "American Idol" auditions are supposed to be a parade of freaks mixed in with a few potential gems just to keep it interesting. We know it's too late for this season's group of musical circus geeks, but if the first two audition episodes are any indication, some of you are in dire need of a refresher course on the do's and don'ts of "Idol" tryouts before we even start thinking about season eight.
Do: Tell the producers a great backstory that might land you one of those "down on the farm" segments where we see you frolicking with your son/daughter/pets/tractor. The sadder, the better.
Don't: Have your backstory be tied to a bag of nail clippings, your "Star Wars" fetish, a stalker routine, an ability to make funny noises or a "wacky" original song about abstinence. Speaking of chastity, though never-been-kissed virgin Bruce Dickson and his lock-and-key necklace told a tale so bizarrely endearing the striking Writers Guild of America should investigate whether he had some help with it, we recommend a little less sharing next time.
Do: Try to stand out in front of the judges by wearing something interesting, (slightly) provocative, flattering or, failing that, bland enough that it doesn't distract them from your singing.
Don't: Shop at the costume shop, paint your face, wear a Cowell-esque top that exposes enough of your chest that Simon and Randy lose their focus, attach anything resembling tin foil to your body or have your shirt signed by your "supporters." And, for the love of God, if you can't see your feet, don't wear a Princess Leia costume, even if you are manscaped. Nobody needs to see that.
Do: Pick a song that fits your voice and doesn't make it seem like you're trying out for "Best Celebrity Impersonators." (Hey, if the strike goes on long enough, it might show up on your TiVo queue!)
Don't: And we can't stress this enough, don't sing a song by a woman if you're a dude. We don't care how great you think Celine or Kelly are, the minute you start that tune you will automatically lose Simon and come off looking like a gender-confused contestant on a Logo reality show, whether you're gay, straight or floating somewhere in the guyliner-assisted middle. There are plenty of great songs sung by men for male contestants to choose from — just ask William Hung. OK, maybe not.
Do: Stand out and be humble. Believe it or not, you can do this by just being yourself — especially, it seems, if you are a cute, bubbly blonde with a growly voice or a cute, bubbly black girl with just the right amount of sass.
Don't: Talk back to the judges and come off like someone who might be lurking behind a garbage can waiting for Simon to get into his limo later that night. Yes, you'll get screen time, but nobody will take you seriously for the rest of your life (especially if your heart is set on "actressing"), and you will undoubtedly be dragged out a few more times over the season in clip shows that will portray you as the lunatic that you are.
Do: Wow the judges with your awesome range and strong vocals.
Don't: Tell them people have said you sound like Whitney/Mariah/Celine/Kelly, because 10 times out of 10, they're wrong and you're wrong and Simon's just gonna rip you a new one. And one more thing: Even if your cute-as-a-button model husband says you sound like a superstar, don't make him say it again in front of the judges if it's clearly not true because, once again, Simon's going to make the drive home more awkward than a Paula Abdul QVC appearance.
Do: Be comfortable in your own skin, even if it means snapping your fingers, bopping your head or making a hand gesture or two. The easier it is for you to move around and look the three judges in the eyes, the easier it will be to do it in front of an audience that's larger than the populations of Chile and Cambodia combined.
Don't: Breakdance, practice shadowboxing, flap your wings, stare at the floor, wriggle like you're giving birth to a 15-pound bag of sand, or, as we learned last season, pretend to be a large, caged cat.
Do: Prepare more than one song, preferably in a different genre. Occasionally, the judges want to hear an extra ditty before they dole out a Golden Ticket. If you only rehearsed "Another One Bites the Dust" and Paula asks for some Sinatra, don't be shocked when you end up another one gone, another one gone ...
Don't: Sing an unrequested second song. If the Idol Trinity agrees that you stink, bursting into a new tune isn't going to change any minds. You're just prolonging the pain. Plus, "Idol" producers love having fun in the editing room, so even if you didn't cut off Simon's critique with a second song-and-dance routine, that's exactly how it will be portrayed by the time it hits airwaves, and you'll ultimately look insolent, desperate and/or unstable.
And, if you're going to ignore all these suggestions and just be your freak-flag-flying self — which, after all, is what really makes us all tune in this early anyway — take a page from the book of 44-year-old Renaldo "You Are My Brother" Lapuz. The strange little man in the silver-and-white cape chewed up 11 minutes with his space-case anthem of brotherhood, which slowly evolved from typical Hung-esque time killer to a strangely great piece of TV that allowed the judges to let their hair down and indulge in some of the same goofball antics they are used to rolling their eyes at.
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