Descending into the dark and mysterious underworld of Canadian Idol auditions

One brave A&E writer's journey into Ben Mulroney's lair

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Canadian Idol lineup

Gazette writer Dylan Clark was recently sent on an epic assignment: infiltrate Canadian Idol and become champion. This is his story:

Like millions of others, I’ve been sucked into the Idol world. I have a near-religious fascination with Canadian Idol; I watch and criticize complete strangers while simultaneously thinking “I can do this.”

A couple weeks ago, I got the chance to prove it. An open audition was held in London’s White Oaks Mall and I heard fate calling. I was determined to be the next Kalan what’s-his-name, or that girl who won last time... you know, the one with the hair?

So I excitedly set my alarm, determined to arrive at 8 a.m. and be first in line.

9:30 a.m: I crawled out of bed, undeterred by the late start. As long as I arrived before the 4 p.m. deadline, I knew I’d be heard and discovered. Still, I wanted to arrive early to ensure the judges weren’t so tired and cranky by the time I performed that they’d overlook the star before them.

10:00 a.m: Guitar in hand, I arrived at the mall ready to inspire. The first thing I saw was a young guy strumming away, trying to sing some forgettable pop-punk ballad. I couldn’t help thinking if this was all London had to offer, I had this thing in the bag.

10:10 a.m: My guitar tuner’s batteries were dead, so I used my musical instincts and tuned by ear. Everything was fine until my top E string decided it had been stretched too far.

Instead of panicking, I walked around the mall until I found the Belle Air Music store. Since stores don’t open until later on Sundays, I sat down near the shop and waited patiently.

10:30 a.m: Still waiting.

11:00 a.m.: Went to the bathroom, came back and sat. I was starting look a lot like an abandoned puppy.

11:15 a.m: An attendant arrived to prepare the store for opening. The battle of wills began.

11:30 a.m: I could see the attendant’s reflection in the store’s mirror. The fact he was looking at women in bikinis on the computer didn’t improve my mood. I felt a strong urge to throw my guitar at him and cry like a little girl. I calmed down, remembering this isn’t the way a Canadian Idol acts. I continued waiting.

12:00 p.m: The time of reckoning had arrived. I was ready to storm the shop and claim my E-string.

12:07 p.m: The lazy putz finally opened the store. I got my string and headed to the registration booth.

12:10 p.m: I registered to audition and obtained my number. My number told me the judges had already seen 5,522 applicants, but they would soon be forgotten.

12:20 p.m: While waiting, I made friends with a girl named Destiny. I don’t want to say this was a sign from God I was going to win, but if the shoe fits...

12:22 p.m: Ben Mulroney walked in and talked to some of the staff. You could tell by the look on his face he knew there was greatness in the air. Even though we never spoke or made eye contact, I know he knew. I know it.

12:30 p.m: A group consisting of myself, Destiny and a few others were taken to a trailer-filled parking lot.

We were told we would sing for a show producer and they would determine whether we would advance to sing for the celebrity judges. I wasn’t worried. No “producer” would turn me down.

12:40 p.m: The first girl, an irritating musical-theatre buff, asked me, “I know this is a strange question, but can you please play me a D?”

I played her the note, resisting the urge to punch her in the face. The next girl sang a forgettable “Summertime.” The next guy rustled up all his courage and... completely forgot his song. He asked if he could check his iPod. I was surprised they said yes. Finally, he started singing and dancing awkwardly.

I was up next. I announced my song and struck my first chord.

Fuck.

It was still out of tune.

I sang pretty well at first, but when I reached the higher notes my voice shrank away like testicles in a snowstorm.

The producer then gave us each some comments and said the standard had been set very high in previous cities.

The producer looked at me, I looked at her. I could tell by the look in her eye she was about to make the biggest mistake of her life.

When she told me I wouldn’t advance, I knew everyone in the room wanted to scream out against the injustice, but I was grateful they stayed quiet.

Everyone in the room knew this wasn’t the last time they would hear from me. Next year, I will be the Canadian Idol. You can count on it.

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