How I channeled my inner Simon Cowell to help pick the Tampa Bay Idol finalists
For the first time, I joined St. Petersburg Times music critic and colleague Sean Daly, MJ Morning Show personality Meredith, area vocalist Belinda Womack and WTVT-Ch. 13 feature reporter Charley Belcher on Thursday to help judge WTVT's Tampa Bay Idol contest.
The 10 folks we selected will perform in person -- and without music -- at noon Wednesday in the Westfield Brandon mall, to be judged in person by our motley crew. (And no, I am not planning on using the words "dawg," "pitchy" or "dude." Well, maybe dude.)
This is one of the contests held by Fox affiliates nationwide to send a local person into a guaranteed audition slot at a nearby American Idol cattle call audition.
The winner in Tampa Bay, who will get a slot in the Idol auditions planned for July 9 at Amway Arena in Orlando, still face incredible odds -- they just get a ticket into the first rung of auditions before the show's talent producers.
Facing the show's star judges isn't even an option -- Randy Jackson Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Kara DioGuardi won't join the audition process until later in the year -- assuming they all decide to continue on the show.
But last year's Tampa Bay winner Cesar De La Rosa (left) traveled to the auditions in Hollywood; Idol winner Jordin Sparks got back into the contest as a local affiliate winner, after trying to audition off the street at a different cattle call.
So we sorted through about 80 eligible applicants and came up with a slate of 10 competitors and two alternates. Our great hope: that the local Idol winner pulls a Jordin Sparks.
For anyone thinking of doing this again, let me offer a few pointers as someone who saw lots of audition tapes:
1) The background matters -- try to find a nice-looking space to film your video. And if you do it in your bedroom, at least make the bed and pick up the dirty clothes in the background (shudder).
2) Pick a song that has more than two notes in the melody and gets interesting early. Too many singers almost got doinked because the songs they chose took too long to get interesting. Also, try to pick songs that are familiar, but not typical audition fodder -- several applicants chose the classic ballad At Last, which can feel monotonous after the fifth time.
3) Look at your tape after you make it, and record it again if the tape didn't turn out well. We got one video where you literally could not see the face of the singer, because he was shrouded in shadow. Other recordings cut off the beginning of the performances or had other obvious, glaring problems. And make sure the video file, DVD or VHS tape actually works before you mail it.
* Antoinette Smith, Tampa
* Amy Weaver, St. Petersburg
* Alexandra Amor, St. Petersburg
* Syreeta Banks, Bradenton
* Samantha Leigh, Tampa
* Derrick “DeeJay Young Jr., Tampa
* Brad Iturriaga, Plant City
* Caroline Kelly, Wesley Chapel
* April Slazas, Clearwater
* Daniel Pate, Auburndale
Krystal Lambert, Orlando
Kelly Sykes, Tampa