The Voice – Final Chapter

Published by Rick on Tagged Uncategorized

Obviously, because I’m writing about it, my audition for “The Voice UK 2016” didn’t yield anything more than a “Thank you” and a long speech about “not giving up on your dreams.” Had I passed the audition, I’d have had to sign all sorts of contracts that would make me essentially their property until I’m eliminated from the competition. I would not be able to share anything on social media, and my comedy shows would probably be monitored to make sure I’m not sharing anything there. I also would have to be totally available to them for several periods of time, including times I’d already blocked off for trips to the US. So ultimately, it’s not much of a disappointment that they passed on me.

The experience is still something worth going through, if for no other reason than a study of people. It actually took me back to Rick & Ruby’s first TV appearance, which was on “The Gong Show” in 1976. My partner had aspirations of a journalistic career, and had the idea of writing an exposé of the show from a contestant’s point of view, as nobody had written an article from that perspective. She had a friend who worked at LA Times who gave her the go-ahead to write an article on spec. While we were fans of the show, we knew it wasn’t meant for anyone with serious show biz aspirations, so it seemed a good idea on all counts to go through the audition process like anyone else.

The crazies “The Gong Show” attracted came from all walks of life, though like “The Voice,” most with show biz desires. We had a long chat with this one kid probably only about 18 or so, who had no idea what he was going to do for his audition, he just knew that coming from a show biz background, he was expected not to let his family down. He said a lot of stuff that made no sense, then capped it off with, “This could be our big break, you know?” We knew even then that it wasn’t. Another group of a capella singers in the same room were practicing, at every opportunity, and not caring if they were disturbing others. They had a nice interpretation of “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” but I don’t recall ever seeing either of the above on the show, which we watched almost every day.

We somehow DID pass the audition, though Chuck Barris, the creator and host of the show wasn’t there. The people that were conducting the auditions said we were just the sort of thing he would like. All we did was a couple quick impressions of Johnny Cash, Barry White, and Tina Turner, but apparently that was enough. So Step One of the writing of my partner’s exposé was passed. Step Two would be going on the show. Unfortunately for my partner, in expecting to meet this monster of a man who had made millions through exploiting of human foibles in his various demeaning game shows, Barris turned out to be a lovely man who was very kind to all the performers, and Ruby had to call her friend to say that there was no way she could write this article.

Just like my “Gong Show” experience, at “The Voice” auditions, I was surrounded by people who wore their dreams on their sleeves, doing vocal warm-ups at every opportunity, and name-dropping if they could. I refrained from name-dropping, though I was mildly tempted to throw out names of people I’ve done cocaine with. One girl who was in my group had all the diva stuff worked out, as a budding opera singer. Before our group went into the audition room, I could hear her practicing in the toilet, no doubt reveling in the echo chamber effects the loo provides. It seemed that every audition room I walked by had some young starlet belting out Adele or Jessie J tunes with that “why settle for one note when you can hit 20” attitude. I felt sorry for the judges (none of the celebrities were present for these auditions) who had to listen to this for an entire week, probably on 10 to 12-hour days, and to have to glean who among these wannabes had the potential for a future possible 15 minutes of fame.

Our group was called in, and nearly everyone was about a third my age or less, most of whom had no show biz experience to speak of. Most were very nervous, though the one guy I sort of bonded with was in his 30’s and had sung with rock bands, but also knew like myself that he wasn’t what the show was looking for. He had also auditioned for “X Factor” a couple weeks earlier, and sure enough it was the cattle call I would have expected it to be. He sang an Oasis song I’d never heard before, but from his singing, you could imagine how the original sounded. Next to myself, I liked his performance best. The resident diva chose to sing “I Will Always Love You” (NO-O-O-O!) in Italian (DOUBLE NO-O-O!) in the style of Katherine Jenkins (TRIPLE NO-O-O!). She wasn’t as terrible as I’d hoped she’d be, but maybe only as good an opera singer as the Mrs. in “Citizen Kane.”

Me, I was the only one to sing an uptempo song, The Temptations’ “I Can’t Get Next To You.” I sang all the parts, and if you remember the song, it trades off lead vocals from tenor to bass to falsetto. I figured this would show off my range and be entertaining. I wasn’t perfect, but still interesting enough that I could see the judges (one a producer for the show, the other a voice coach) smile a couple times. There were three that went up after me (11 of us total), to varying degrees of mediocrity. We were then dismissed out into the hall for a few minutes while the judges discussed our fate.

That deliberation only took about five minutes tops before they called us back in. I knew when the one judge began to speak about past winners/finalists on the show who failed their first audition, and how we shouldn’t give up on our dreams, that none of us were going to be put through. Sure enough, that’s what happened. I think the only thing that would have disappointed me was if they’d put Diva through. As we all trudged out together to the lift, we passed by a group of hopefuls who stared at us with sympathetic faces, to whom I said “Yes, our dreams are shattered.” Some of my group didn’t laugh at that, but I really didn’t care at that point. I had the experience, have now done it twice, and there won’t be a third, but then it’s likely 2016 will be the last year for the show anyway.

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