“Erin - I want to audition for American Idol. I was wondering are there any tips you can suggest?”
American Idol is such a completely different beast than other auditions. I know some excellent singers who didn't make it past the 1st round, because often they are not looking for the best singers. I also know some people who were not very good singers but had a lot of stage presence, and they got all the way to being judged by the Fab Four, only to find out that they were passed that far only because it would be "good TV" to have them berated by the judges.
I always tell actors that you have absolutely no control over whether you are cast (or passed through) when you audition. So, with that in mind, here are some tips for a contest like this:
• Just sing with your heart and soul and be very real. Let your passion show through!
• Don't use any gimmicks. No costumes, no props, no signs. Seriously.
• Show confidence, even if you feel nervous!
• Pick the song that you sing the VERY BEST- do not pick something because you think it is hard and that they will appreciate how hard it is. A well done song with small range is much better than a mediocre song with lots of range.
• Come prepared with a 2nd option in case they ask to hear a different song.
• Make sure you know the whole song, in case they ask for more.
• Plan out your entire audition BEFORE you audition and know exactly how much you are going to sing. Then, don't sing any more unless they ask for it.
• Connect with the judges. Look at them as you sing- smile at them, think of this audition as concert you are giving to fans who love you. It will make a huge difference in your delivery. (This is markedly different than in traditional auditions, when you look at a fixed point on the wall behind the auditors!)
• Stay quiet when you are waiting to go in. You will probably be there for many hours with many screaming fans. Resist the urge to scream with them- you want to save your voice.
• Know that NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO, they have a formula for who they advance to the next round and why. Most of this has nothing to do with you or your performance. You will see less talented people advance, while others do not. While American Idol is a talent competition, at this stage in the game they cannot judge on talent alone (there are thousands upon thousands of talented people, and they cannot let them all through.) So, the producers are going to put through the ones that they feel will help them get ratings- some good, some bad. So, just go in there knowing that you will do your best, and knock them dead!
I hope this helps- let me know when/if you audition and tell me how it goes!