NEW YORK — No Simon Cowell. No Paula Abdul. No Randy Jackson. No problem.
Hundreds of R&B heartthrobs — and strangely enough, one, er, heartthrob-ette? — lined the streets downtown Tuesday morning, vying for a shot to be Diddy's next cheesecake delivery man.
The "Making the Band 4" auditions — this time Diddy's looking for a show-stopping male quartet — may not get the frenzied attention the "American Idol" tryouts receive, but that doesn't mean they aren't just as entertaining.
The New York leg certainly was, and the same could prove to be true at the casting calls scheduled for Saturday in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Tuesday in Washington, D.C. (Scroll below for more information on the Charlotte and D.C. auditions.)
Hopefuls braved subzero temperatures, waited in line outside club BLVD and inside the venue for upward of four hours, and when they finally got their 30 seconds to impress ... his royal Diddy-ness wasn't even there. Take that, take that!
But R&B veteran Joe was there, and so was New Edition founding member Michael Bivens, and, of course, MTV News.
We saw plenty of aspiring candidates, from the sublime-sounding to the simply strange. And we caught up with six of them while they waited in line, talking to them pre- and post-audition in hopes of helping Diddy select his next group of stars. What we learned? Some people really were born to sing, some just wanted their 15 minutes of fame — and one dude really looked like a lady.
Malik Williams, 30
Representing: Brooklyn, New York
Sounds like: "Eddie King [as played by Michael Wright] from 'The Five Heartbeats,' " Williams said. "The rawness in my voice. That raspy, raw sound."
Shameless plug: "It's cold out here, but I got on my Sean John coat from three years ago, so I'm good!"
Cheesecake meter: "I'm doing it for the fun of it. I'm a trooper, I gotta do what I gotta do."
Last-minute thoughts: "What am I gonna sing?!" [He laughs.]
Post-audition reactions: "I waited another three to four hours once I got inside. Aw, man. When it was my time to go, the lady asked me how old everyone was. One guy said, '21,' the next guy said, '22,' [and] then one guy said, '19.' Then she asked me; I said, '30.' She said, 'Shut your mouth! You look good for 30!' When I went inside, I sang [Boys II Men's] 'End of the Road.' They let me sing the whole song; they told me I got a strong voice. Then they said, 'You said you were 30?' I said, 'Yeah.' They said, 'Thank you.' [He laughs.] That was messed up! Everyone was concentrating on my age! But I know in the industry, age plays a big part." Next!
Stephon Brock, 19
Representing: Harlem, New York
Behind the music: "This is my dream, this is what I do every day, I sing every day," Brock said. "I been through a lot. A fire, foster care, abuse."
Style: "Usher is an inspiration of mine. I can dance, too."
Worth the wait?: "I'm excited. I came at 1 a.m. last night, I left 'cause no one was here. I came back at 5 a.m. Then they told me my ID was invalid; I walked all the way down to the courts and got a new birth certificate. I been trooping."
Cheesecake meter: "If [Diddy] asks me to walk, I'm walking."
Last-minute thoughts: "I just wanna go in and just sing."
Post-audition reactions: "Maaan, I'm gonna take up acting classes." Next!
Franklin Lopez, 23
Representing: Bronx, New York
Three-times dope: "I'm a good singer, but I'm a triple-threat: I dance, sing, act, all that stuff," Lopez said.
Diva fever: "J. Lo and Beyoncé [are my inspirations]. J. Lo is from the Bronx, she's Latina, and she made it. That's what I wanna do. And Beyoncé, just her style, she's a strong dancer."
Cheesecake meter: "I'll be willing to go through the drama to make it. That's what you got to do, right? 'Cause Diddy can make anyone a star."
Last-minute thoughts: "Everyone has their own talent; I'm no different than anyone else in this line. But my hunger, along with my talent [will set me apart]. I'm praying to God."
Post-audition reactions: "It was great! I thought Diddy was gonna be in there, but everyone was real nice. They asked me if I could dance as well as I sing and I told them I can dance even better. They gave me a big check and told me I made it to the next round. I'm on cloud nine!" Stay tuned.
Dave Kenner Solar, over 21
Representing: Smithtown, New York
A.k.a.: " 'Sex,' " he said. " 'Cause I wanna be a sex symbol like Brad Pitt."
Close calls: "I was on 'So You Think You Can Dance?' I was in one of Diddy's videos as a businessman. I've sung and danced all over the world. [I've been on] 'Showtime at the Apollo,' three times on 'Amateur Night' ... 'Fame,' the reality series. I been recognized in Hawaii from 'The Wade Robson Project.' "
His-story: "I've studied with [a singing teacher] who ... has worked with Michael Jackson, Madonna [and] Prince."
Irreplaceable?: "I'm an original, I consider myself a star. Other people will be comparing themselves to me."
Post-audition reactions: "Sex" declined to comment. Womp, womp. Next!
Devon Martin, 28
Style: "I don't really sound like any other artist," Martin said. "I really try to patent my own style, really just do my thing. It's urban, edgy."
Close encounter: Martin once auditioned for L.A. Reid as part of an R&B group.
Last-minute thoughts: Martin admitted that he was "Nervous, because you don't really know what they looking for. I want to project myself so they don't look at me like an introvert. I think you have to come here with the mentality and look of an artist and be confident, because they are perceptive of that. That, and [I've been] singing my lyrics over and over in my head!"
Post-audition reactions: "I made it to Hollywood! [He laughs.] This whole experience is really exciting, once you get up there and overcome the challenge. It's definitely something you have to set your mind to, to really accomplish and win." Stay tuned.
DyShon Warren, 22
Sound advice: "When we were in line, we were singing, but we were being complimentary to the other people too. A lot of dudes out there were trying to hate on each other, but Diddy's looking for a group, so you have to be able to work well with each other."
Strange but true: "There was a girl in line! I looked around and thought, 'Doesn't anyone notice this is a girl right here?' She had her hair in cornrows, but dog, you could tell it was a girl. No one said anything! But when she went to sing, that's when everybody knew."
Post-audition reactions: "After I got done singing, they told me I made it to the next round. But as the lady was talking to me, I kept thinking about my boy, Devon. She was telling me the instructions, but I wasn't even listening. Then I finally saw Dev come through the door and knew he made it." Stay tuned!
Want to be on "Making the Band 4"? There still time to audition! If you'll be in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area on Saturday, head to Cans Bar & Canteen on 500 West 5th Street. Or if you're in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, go to the Platinum nightclub on 915 F Street NW.
Tune in to the season premiere of "Making the Band 4," which will air June 18 on MTV, to see if Franklin, Devon and/or DyShon made the cut. Go here for more information on the show.