While most American Idol fans gathered around their television sets to watch the show two weeks ago, a select two dozen were busy practicing for their own auditions.
EU Idol, sponsored by the campus International Justice Mission chapter, attracted about a dozen contestants for both audition nights. Even with the good turn-out, IJM leaders decided to hold a final audition on February 19. “We want to make sure everyone gets a chance,” said sophomore Mallory Mussler, IJM president. “There’re a lot of talented people that we’ve never seen before.”
Contestants formed a single file line in Gough Hall for a turn to show the three judges their best. Each student filled out a form for the judges to preview, and answered a few informal questions upon entering, including, “Why do you want to be the EU Idol?”
Like the television show, EU Idol auditions were quick, without music and followed by feedback from a panel of three. It was the club’s intention to keep most of the comments encouraging.
“We try to cut out the Simon part of it,” Mussler said just prior to the second set of auditions.
Classmate and vice president Grace Nucifore agreed.
“It’s not too harsh; we have three Paulas,” she said of first-year judges Megan Faulkner, Molly Sullivan and Kara Shelly. Unbeknownst to both Nucifore and Mussler, they were about to find out otherwise.
By the end of the second night, Shelly had been nicknamed “Simon.”
“She was harsh,” said first-year contestant Monique White. Other contestants were heard complaining to one another about Shelly’s criticism as well. Yet in the spirit of Simon, this did not move Shelly. “You’re going to be honest,” she said. “I wasn’t being rude.”
Shelly’s criticism did not come without an appreciation for the effort.”I think it takes guts to put yourself out there in front of people that are going to judge you for real,” Shelly said. For this, IJM considered Shelly to be a valuable asset to the panel.
“Kara is very musically inclined,” Mussler said. “She’s good at explaining what she means.” Shelly grew up in a home where her mother hosted piano lessons; she credits her critical ear for music to this early exposure. The other two judges, Faulkner and Sullivan, had no such background but did not feel hindered in their judgments.
“It’s not really hard to figure out what sounds good and what doesn’t,” Faulkner said.
While all three judges claimed to have witnessed a good variety of styles and vocal talent, some of the performances received a resounding no. Sophomore Peter Macari began his audition by screeching the National Anthem. He stopped part-way through the first verse to “start over” and use his Turning Point voice to sing In the Still of the Night.
“I watch the show and I see how bad some people are,” Macari said. “I just wanted to make fun of it.” Other performances had no serious side at all.
One of these was a duet by White and classmate Melissa Thomas.
According to White, the girls dressed in “crazy clothing,” prayed out loud and anointed the judges with hairspray before singing I’ll Make Love to You by Boyz 2 Men.
The number, White said, was fashioned after many of the show’s goofy auditions “like the one girl that said God had sent her to be the American Idol.”
Besides giving the judges a good laugh, White said their purpose was to “be the funny act so that there wouldn’t be anybody being kicked off who was actually good.”
After reviewing video tapes of the recorded auditions, the club will choose which students get to move on to the next round, and mail out notifications to all contestants.
The last round of EU Idol will take place in the Dining Commons at the end of March, with a maximum of 15 finalists who will appear before a panel of music majors.
Proceeds from the small admission fee will go to the IJM headquarters. While IJM hopes to raise a lot of money, they also want to give students a good time-one just as fun as the auditions.
“It was an entertaining evening, that’s for sure,” Faulkner said.