This is it, the big day, your first pivotal step to fame, fortune and a sweet catfight with Kara DioGuardi! Starting at 6 a.m. today, registration for American Idol auditions will run for 48 straight hours at Orlando's Amway Arena. Once you get your magic wristband, you'll be ready to warble almighty at Thursday's auditions for the show's ninth season.
We've provided important logistical information for all you future Fantasias; we also strongly suggest checking out the labyrinthine rules at americanidol.com.
But while those regulations are crucial, we'd like to offer a few secret audition tips. Yes, we enjoy ridiculing people on Idol. But we're talking Sunshine State pride here, and we want our FLA brethren to shine on Thursday!
So let us help you get to the American Idol Promised Land, which looks not unlike Paula Abdul's shiny cleavage.
Tip No. 1 If you're in it to win it, sing Sam Cooke. This is the best advice we'll give all day. You'll get scolded for attempting to match Whitney, Celine, Aretha. But Idol rewards those who cover — even screeech (see Lambert, Adam) — the great R&B singer. Can't go wrong with A Change Is Gonna Come or You Send Me. In a related matter, you also can't go wrong with having a Dad in prison. Always a bonus!
Tip No. 2 If you're big and you're hairy and you simply want to get on TV, wear a bikini. This goes for men and women. Katrina "Bikini Girl" Darrell did the vampy thing last year to great buzz, so producers will want a twist on the trend. You won't get to Hollywood, but your hirsute bodaciousness will make prime time. We can already see the zany bikini montage now. Look! Sasquatch in a thong! Genius!
Tip No. 3 If you're attractive but your pipes are only mediocre, don't dress sleazy to overcompensate. That only works while charming pop music critics. Instead, try the old Humble Hottie routine! You can be so-so and still go far. Producers will provide plenty of G-rated Allens and Archuletas. But a lot of us watch for subtle tongue-waggers Kellie Pickler and Ace Young, too.
Tip No. 4 Please, for the love of Simon Cowell's man-bosoms, don't get a case of the vocal runs. Producers look for unique voices — not someone who sounds like Mariah Carey trapped in a Cuisinart. Instead of shattering octaves, you'd be better off gaining weight, growing a beard and rocking a 'kini. Trust us.
Tip No. 5 If we're doing our math correctly, producers will be on the lookout for either (1) a dynamic R&B entertainer with flash (a.k.a. the Michael Jackson effect) (2) a cutie-next-door with a big voice a la Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood, and (3) a vaguely cocky rocker a la Chris Daughtry, David Cook and Lambert. If you happen to be any of those, get to O-Town pronto. And if you see us, say hello. We'll be rocking hot-pink Speedos.
Sean Daly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8467. His Pop Life blog is at blogs.tampabay.com/popmusic.