Thursday, March 15, 2007

It may, in fact be possible to sing someone to death. Here's how. And why.

I see in the paper today that Canadian Idol tryouts are coming to the St. Laurent Centre once again. A year ago, they were held at the same place, and I was forced to try out. Thank god we've been there and done that.

Let me back up a bit. My first big stunt for CHEZ was attempting to get on the blooper reel of Canadian Idol. And boy, did I! I made the commercials, the website, and the show itself with my delightful rendition of Sweet Caroline in bright pink pants and an ill-fitting pink T-Shirt. Why Value Village had bright pink pants in my size, I'll never know.

It's a bizarre scenario when you're in it for the blooper reel. The judges and producers quickly figured out why I was there, and they hung out with me, telling me a few of the behind-the-scenes secrets. You see, there are three levels of audition. You sing for some producer, who either likes you or doesn't. That producer shuffles you through to the next round if you are decent, and then if you pass that test, you are on to the TV and the judges.

The thing is, how do you tell someone "you're so bad that it will be funny on TV. Carry on." You don't. You tell them they have something interesting and unique, and send them through. That means that every person you see on the "I Really Suck" shows at the beginning of the season has gone through three auditions already. At each of these auditions they are told that they are good enough to continue. So when they get to the judges, they have begun to believe it. And when the judges say mean things, they flip out. Of course they're fantastic singers! They made it this far, didn't they? How could a producer think I'm awesome but these three half-assed, has-been representatives of the music industry tell me otherwise? Ridiculous!

I didn't pay much attention to the process, I just hung around with two hot chicks for the whole day, neither of us took it very seriously, and I made it through and earned my 100 bucks from Doc. Mission accomplished.

So two years later, I was to audition again. Only this time, for real, to see if I could do it. I really wanted to get in front of the judges this time, because I was going to say "I'd like to suck up to Sass Jordan by singing one of her songs". And then sing "Black Velvet" by Alannah Myles. And when she said it wasn't her, I was going to insist that it was. "I saw you sing it at that grocery store grand opening - you were drunk off your ass, remember? I know it's your song!"

I went to the St. Laurent shopping centre, and this time I was determined to meet as many people as I could, and take in the whole Idol experience. The mall is crammed full of mostly girls, between the ages of 16 and 28, and most of them were babes. The ones who weren't actually hot managed to dress themselves up sluttily enough that at least they looked really dirty, which I guess is good enough for TV. But trust me. Unless you're a creepy old man with a video camera attached to your shoes, it sounds a lot better than it actually is.

I strike up a conversation with a gorgeous young woman wearing a skirt so tight that I'm sure if I poked a hole in it, I might be able to see her colon. The V-neck shirt she is poured into is so low-cut and tight that for a moment I forget she has a face, but she is too distracted to care. In fact, she sees me staring at her cleavage, and begins to worry that it is because I'm critiquing her attire.

"Is this too low-cut, do you think?" Of course it IS, but for the moment, I think that's awesome, so I say no, of course not. Now she turns around and bends over, lifting the back of her shirt. "Can you see the top of my underwear?" I can't, and I tell her so. I can, however, see the top of her butt crack, but that wasn't the question. So now I'm an authority on all things wardrobe-related and otherwise. "I can't decide which song to sing - tell me which one you like better".
She launches into two songs I've never heard before, because at all costs, I have managed to spend my whole life avoiding this type of crappy music.

Have you ever stood beside someone in a crowd as that person sang at the top of their lungs? And I'm not alone. All around the mall, guys are shuffling their feet and looking around nervously as their girlfriends get their last-minute practice in on the latest Keshia Chante tune. Some, however, are sticking to the TRUE classics. Whitney Houston, Celine Dion and Mariah Carey songs fill the air as I resist the urge to dive behind the counter of the Manchu Wok and hurl meatballs at anyone who even looks like they're about to open their mouths to sing.

Moments ago, I may have been willing to drink this girl's bath water. Now, I'd rather lick spilled mustard off Mike Duffy's bunions than spend another minute within thirty feet of her. I make some excuse and move on. I say I like the second song better. She appreciates my candid advice. I appreciate her boobs. But I hate her nonetheless.

After several other encounters of a similar nature, I go drinking at East Side Marios, and share a bottle of vodka with some karaoke experts from Dog and Pony Sound, who have come to test that expertise in Canada's biggest karaoke contest. Then, it's on to my audition. I'm in with a woman named Miss Kitty or some such thing from the karaoke troop. I choose Johnny Cash. I sing Folsom Prison. I change octaves three times in the middle of the song. Now, send me through to round two!

But it was not to be. I was not good enough to pass the first round, and not bad enough to be skewered on TV. Too bad, I was really looking forward to another day of avoiding otherwise-interesting hot girls.

I ran into an old friend of mine yesterday, his name is Chris. He used to work at the Subway on St. Laurent, and he would give me a great discount on subs while I was working at CD Warehouse. As I recall, he once played his song for me. The owner of that Subway had loaned Chris a substantial amount of money to get his pop music career off the ground, and Chris had busted his ass. He had recruited producers, booked studio time, written his song, and recorded it. One day he played it for me. Not my thing, pop-dance kind of stuff, but it sounded just like the other pop-dance kinda stuff I heard elsewhere, and I thought Chris had a pretty good shot.

He never did. He worked at it. He tried. He never stopped. But he got nowhere. Then last year, he made the top 32 on Canadian Idol. I think he was booted off fairly fast, I don't think he was in the top 20, so he had very little screen time. Now, I meet him on his way in to our sister station, KISS. They've picked up his song, and they're playing it. He has a producer now, and a studio. A contract! I'm excited for him, and he tells me Canadian Idol changed everything for him.

Now he's a guy that some people, somewhere in Canada, might recognize. He was on TV that one time! The same people who wanted nothing to do with him three months earlier, were calling HIM. ANd they can use the Canadian Idol brand to sell stuff! It's ideal, and radio stations will buy into the same hype. So the song will get played.

Now, I'm happy for Chris. He really is one of those guys who worked their butt off to get to where he wanted to be. But his story is also what's wrong with Canadian Idol. Just the idea that showing up there can translate to a music career is idiotic for 99.99999999% of the people who go, and it creates oh-so-many morons who show up to the St Laurent Shopping Centre for a get-famous-quick scheme. Wearing a tight mini skirt, a V-neck cleavage shirt, and singing Faith Hill songs at full volume. These are the people who can sing you to death.


  1. This posting needs a little more talk about cleavage and boobs.

  2. Maybe it needs a few pictures of cleavage and boobs.