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Not What They're Looking For - American Idol Tryouts

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When you think of the audition line for American Idol, you may think of a freak show -- a lobster boy, a bearded lady, a William Hung. Yet, there was no circus in front of the American Airlines Arena by Wednesday morning during Miami’s preliminary auditions for American Idol’s seventh season. Even the bay, which usually resembles the stench of a Morningside neighborhood hooker, smelled of nothing. The only thing that might lead a passing car on Biscayne to believe that there was something news-worthy going on was the presence of activists who held hand-made signs that clearly communicated their distaste for the amount of media attention Idol receives.

Along with preconceptions, Simon, Paula, and Randy were no shows as well, explained a sobbing Kristina Allen as she slowly walked out of sorrowful Gate 7. Post-audition, the 20 year-old who embarked into Miami’s harsh heat armed with a cell phone and a desire to call a loved one confirmed the buzz of many other rejected hopefuls; that they auditioned for three judges they had never seen or heard of before. Perhaps one of these elusive judges was Idol producer Patrick Lynn who told the Miami Herald that out of the 8,000 people crammed within the arena for this audition only 200-500 would make it through to the next round. Then after the second preliminary round, all the surviving contestants achin’ to be like Clay get to audition for the T.V. judges, which may or may not make it on air. ''We know what makes good TV,'' Lynn was quoted saying.

Apparently they do. Last season the questionable talents of Sanjaya Malakar (and his hair) made pop culture history by spawning the first movement to derail the Idol empire. Websites, bloggers, and even Howard Stern advocated voting for Malakar, not because he was an amazing singer, but because if he won over more promising contestants it would contradict the entire purpose of the show, theoretically leading to Idol’s demise. Because of this, ratings went through the roof.

New Times Video from Miami American Idol Tryouts

At the winner’s exit, Gate 4, various news outlets waited for the more successful contestants to trickle outside for interviews. Each of these contestants were full of smiles until asked to share their vocal abilities, to which they coyly respond by saying they were asked not to sing.

Yet, standing around Gate 7 watching the rejected freely belt out their auditions one last time in an attempt for redemption, it was hard not to notice that the majority of these “losers” had pretty decent pipes. Some far more decent than those of Malakar’s, whose mediocrity won him 7th place. Others, however, were well aware of why they didn’t make it through to the next round. “I choked,” admitted 19 year-old Trena Collier, “I got nervous.” She also disclosed, like many other Gate 7 departees, that the judges told her she wasn’t what they were looking for.

But don’t feel too bad for this spunky Liberty City resident who claims to have been singing since she was 3 years-old, because the rejection hasn’t stifled her. She reassured us that she has talent and that she going to follow her dream. To which, I say good luck to you Trena, but if you intend on auditioning for American Idol again, I suggest you also rock a pony hawk. Because if you’re not a Kelly or a Carrie, that’s probably what will get you on T.V. -- Elyse Wanshel

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