Yesterday was the first day of auditions for season nine of American Idol–yes, even though there’s still confetti in my ear from Kris Allen’s win a few weeks back–and turnout at Gillette Stadium outside of Boston was a little bit lower than expected: Around 7,000 people braved rain, cold, and wind to sing in front of the producers, in hopes that they would stand out enough (in a good or bad way) to be called back to sing in front of Simon Cowell and whichever other members of the panel decide to show up for the callback round in a few weeks. Turnout seemed a bit low! What could the chief factor be–the weather, the slightly declining popularity of the show, the fact that auditions this year kicked off a full month earlier than they did last year and people are getting Idol fatigue, the dashed hopes of people who thought Gillette was a lot closer to Boston than it actually is? Or is there something more sinister?
Here are the numbers from last year’s cattle calls, just for the sake of comparison:
Season 9 Auditions
• Boston – June 14 – 7,000
• Atlanta – June 18 – TK
• Chicago – June 22 – TK
• Dallas – June 26 – TK
• Los Angeles – June 30 – TK
• Orlando – July 9 – TK
• Denver – July 14 – TK
Season 8 Auditions
• San Francisco – July 17 – 7,000
• Louisville – July 21 – 10,000
• Phoenix – July 25 – 5,500
• Salt Lake City – July 29 – 6000
• San Juan – Aug. 2 – 300
• Kansas City – Aug. 8 – 10,000
• Jacksonville – Aug. 13 – 11,000
• East Rutherford, N.J – Aug. 19 – 15,000
While the weather surely did keep people away, I can’t help but wonder if the increasing transparency of the audition process, and more savvy Idol viewers knowing that there are at least a few pre-picked producer favorites who are already ahead of the cattle call at each audition, is keeping people away. And what’s this? At Vote For The Worst, Danny Gokey pal Jamar Rogers has already made it through to Hollywood! (Because if there’s one thing this season definitely needs, it’s more people getting confused over whether or not the show is being stealthily sponsored by LensCrafters.) Alternately, the weather could have been just miserable enough that people said “fuck it, I’ll just make my own video,” as many people around this annoyed person who shelled out $955 to get turned down did:
Now, when the rain started, I figured, “Ok, they can’t take any more footage, so they are going to be logical and just open the stadium doors and let us go in out of the rain.” NO. they decided that it would be GOOD TV to film people soaking in the rain, so there we stood. From 5:30 am (and most people had been there since 4 or earlier!) until 9:30 am, we stood in the RAIN. Horrible, awful experience. I was trembling with cold.
We couldn’t leave the line or else we weren’t allowed back in the line. Some people didn’t have umbrellas or jackets even, so we all tried to share as best we could. It was hell. The rain was pouring so hard that it was splashing on the concrete and then back up to soak us twice. The wind was blowing umbrellas inside out, and the rain was soaking us horizontally as well. At this point, I REALLY REALLY REALLY considered leaving. It was too much. I wanted to cry, and a lot of people DID leave.
I made a comment to some people in line that this was a combination of “survivor” and “American Idol” because the whole “outwit, outplay, outlast” thing was REALLY being put to the test! Who will SURVIVE to make it inside the stadium?
Apparently, too many people–the producers even turned down the reigning Miss Vermont.
“Idol” auditions attract thousands in Mass. [Boston.com; HT Rob Murphy]
Boston Idol Auditions Attract 7,000 [MJ]
Tales From American Idol [Little Lady Big Apple]
American Idol–No Luck In Boston [Miss Vermont 2008]
Earlier: Is America Experiencing “American Idol” Fatigue?