American Idol 6 debuts tonight

Tonight, at 8 p.m. ET, American Idol 6 arrives, kicking off 24 hours of episodes over the next two months.

The first four weeks will be nothing but auditions that air at 8 on Tuesdays and 9 on Wednesdays, although tomorrow’s two-hour episode will start at 8. As usual, we can expect a parade of delusional assclowns. Newsweek reports on the “growing ‘Idol’ supergroup: the recidivists, people who audition over and over with the unquenchable–and perhaps foolish–hope that this is finally their year.” They include 22-year-old Troy Sawyer, who’s auditioned 11 times.

Whitney Henry tells the story of her Seattle audition, and reveals just how excruciating the audition process can be. Among other things, she and hundreds of others had to sing Starship’s “We Built This City” 50–yes, 50–times while “the cameras passed overhead” and did take after take. They also sang “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head” repeatedly while twirling umbrellas, “[were] also told to repeat phrases that the producers thought would make catchy introductions to the show or advertisement teasers, such as, ‘Cheer up, Simon, it’s only rain.’” Yes, making cheesy schlock requires a lot of work.

It also requires keeping your sponsors happy. At those auditions, a “producer told [one contestant] to remove his hat and spoke into the microphone that the show is ‘sponsored by Ford, not Honda.’” That’s what it takes to create a show worth $2.5 billion.

Those who make it from the auditions to the top 24 will sign their lives away, agreeing to “a deal that gives 19 the option on recording, management and merchandising rights,” and forces them to participate in the tour. They are all represented by one attorney, who’s “selected by the show, to represent all of them and negotiate their deal with 19,” according to Billboard. Those “who are ultimately optioned by 19 sign a three-album deal,” just as those who get managed by 19 are with the company for three years.

Even at this early stage, the judges are already predicting who might make it to the top 24 or 12, or even win. Paula Abdul took a moment out from acting weird in TV interviews to helpfully tell the New York Post, “There are a few people who stick out — especially a guy. But there’s a girl in there too.” Both she and Randy Jackson, however, said the guy has curly hair, so watch out for him, at least between the parade of people dressed up as if it was Halloween at the Home for the Clinically Talentless and Deluded.

Fame Junkies [Newsweek]
I want to be an ‘Idol’: Truth behind auditions [MSNBC]
“American Idol” a cash cow for media giants [Billboard]
‘Idol’ Gang is Talking About … A Curly Haired Winner [New York Post]

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.