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How Can You Get On American Idol?

"That was dreadful" Scott Gries, Getty Images Entertainment hide caption

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Scott Gries, Getty Images Entertainment

It's that time of year again. Yes, American Idol is back for its 8th season, once again proving that thousands of people are willing to submit themselves to Simon Cowell's criticism in pursuit of all that Hollywood has to offer: fame, glamor, and, of course, the Hollywood hair makeover. Yes, American Idol is a spectacle, but it's one that always gets me thinking. How do people really get on this show?

To find out what really happens at the Idol auditions, I called up an old college friend, Ian Lear-Nickum, who is currently the lead singer of a band called Vaeda.
But before he became a rockstar, he was like many a rockstar hopeful. Back in 2003 he tried out for American Idol, but didn't make it past the show producers who screen contestants and select the lucky few that get to sing in front of the judges. He thinks getting picked has more to do with luck and chance than talent. He also thinks song selection is a major factor. He sang an Incubus song, which in hindsight might not have been "pop" enough for them. So Ian never got to experience the scowl of Simon Cowell, so I'm calling around to some other contestants to see how their auditions went and will report back later.