'The X Factor' draws thousands to audition in L.A.

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Image Credit: FOX

Around 15,000 people filled the Los Angeles Sports Arena parking lot early Sunday morning to audition for Simon Cowell’s new talent search, The X Factor. As the show’s title suggests, contestants must not only be good singers, but also possess that certain, elusive je ne sais quoi. They’ll need that special something to captivate audiences and snag the grand prize: a $5 million recording contract with Sony.

Based on the incredibly popular British singing competition, X Factor differentiates itself from American Idol in a few ways, aside from the cool $5 million deal. First, both solo acts and groups are welcome to audition. Second, as long as they’re at least 12 years old, artists of any age may compete. (Despite the wide age range, most of the contestants in L.A. still looked to be young adults.) Finally, the four judges act as mentors for the finalists, suggesting song choices and acting as coaches throughout the contest.

From an elevated platform, a spirited emcee warmed up the crowd, which arrived at 6 a.m. under drizzling skies. It was the first day of auditions, and the announcer exhorted contestants to have winning personalities, not just vocal talent, if they want to become the next Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga or Black Eyed Peas. The mass of aspiring pop stars waved “Simon, pick me!” posters and joined in sing-alongs of numbers like Teenage Dream and Forget You.

Sunday’s throng of hopefuls included San Diego singing duo Toni & Becca, best-friend students who are 16 and 15 years old. They performed Taylor Swift and Demi Lovato songs, which landed them a call-back. “We have a connection. We’ve always dreamed of doing something together someday,” the cohorts told EW, asserting that their close relationship is their “x factor” that sets them apart from the pack.

Similar to Idol, this preliminary round is a cattle call in which contestants perform in front of a small group of producers. If the contestants are impressive enough, they’ll return later in the week to sing for the show’s judges: Cowell, L.A. Reid (a record exec who’s worked with the likes of Mariah Carey, Pink, Usher and Kanye West) and two others who have yet to be named publicly.

Justin and Nathan, teenage brothers from Temecula, Calif., passed the initial rounds of auditions when they sang “Wagon Wheel” by the bluegrass string band Old Crow Medicine Show. “We’re a brother harmony duo, and we’re really young,” the boys told EW, adding that their “x factor” is their “natural ear for harmonies.”

Jennifer from Tucson is a 37-year-old real estate appraiser who has “wanted to be a singer for a long time.” She listed her “x factors” as “a good look and stage presence.” After performing Bonnie Raitt’s “Love Sneaking Up On You,” Jennifer got through to the next stage, despite butterflies: “I was very nervous. But the adrenaline kicks in, and you do what you do.”

The show is slated to premiere on Fox in September, avoiding direct competition with American Idol. Whether caustic Cowell discovers the next Lady Gaga remains to be seen, but with X Factor still set to hold auditions in Miami, Newark (N.J.), Seattle, Chicago and Dallas, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to spot budding stars.

Read more:
Simon Cowell scoop: The ‘X Factor’ star talks L.A. Reid, Paula Abdul … and Rebecca Black
Official: L.A. Reid signed as ‘X Factor’ judge
Island Def Jam executive L.A. Reid officially resigns: Read his letter to the staff here
Simon Cowell’s ‘X Factor’ judges list: Paula Abdul, Mariah Carey, and others discussed
Simon Cowell announces ‘The X Factor’ audition dates, explains how to win $5 million recording contract
‘The X Factor’: Register to audition right now
‘X Factor’ hopefuls competing for $5 million prize

Comments (22 total) Add your comment
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  • Jake

    Gosh, I would have never known that Newark was in New Jersey if you had not helpfully pointed it out for me with a parenthesis. Moron.

    • Barry

      There is also a Newark in Delaware.

    • A

      There is more than one Newark, moron.

      • Jake

        Yes, but the Newark in Delaware would make no sense as a logical place for auditions. Moron.

    • Curtis

      And there is a Newark in Californa, just south of San Francisco!!

    • stu

      No surprise 15k peeps showed up.
      LA is full of wanna be losers who r unemployed.

    • chantal

      REPRESENT JERSEY!

  • meToo

    Yay, another competition show!

  • LOL

    America will wait hours for crap.

  • Summer Bay

    The sky is blue, the grass is green & LOL needs new material.

  • flicketyflack

    For their sakes I hope the contestants read the fine print. The much vaunted $5 million prize is fully recoupable and with the state of music today it is highly unlikely that they’ll get to the point of earning royalties.

  • Osama Bin Laden

    I vote for Borat

  • ever-lovin’ brown-eyed maurice

    another “reality” show…y’know how sometimes when you doo-doo and you flush the toilet and there’s that residue of fecal matter scraped around the inside of the bowl..?THAT’S what i liken these so-called reality shows to.

    • ever-lovin’ brown-eyed maurice

      that and fox news.

  • Rumplestiltskin

    Can’t stand Cowell, so , no.

  • Elle

    I auditioned. Total waste of time. I don’t know anyone who got through past the second round. There were a lot of good singers there. They were not prepared for the huge turnout.

    • Jassel

      Can you please tell me the process of the audition I really want to know because my sister is auditioning in Dallas. I heard there was a big mess and they were unprepared but I would really appreciate it if you could explain what you saw or how they did the audition.

    • leslie landberg

      OMG, dude! If there is a first round which is screened before Simon et al hear them, designed to eliminate contestants, then how in the hell do nutters like the guy who sold his truck to howl and screech and roll around on the stage get into the second round of auditions?

  • BROOKLYN BURNAMAN

    IM 12 YEARS OLD AND ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A SINGER

    • Kathreen

      Woah nelly, how about them appels!

  • viviennewestwood

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