Dispatches From the ‘American Idol’ Auditions Vol. IV: It’s a Town Full of Losers, I’m Pulling Out of Here to Win

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Intern Mike is on the last bus back from the Meadowlands. If you’re bar-hopping in New York tonight, look out for crying, angry people, singing along to the juke box with green wristbands on. “Lots of bummed and tired people,” says Mike of the bus ride. As if New Jersey transit weren't depressing enough.  

Sounds like gimmickry is big in the latest edition of Idol: One guy from Queens said the three people he knew who got the thumbs-up wore, respectively, a spacesuit, a set of wings, and an Alvin & the Chipmunks costume, the latter singing in, of course, a chipmunk voice. “You either had to be phenomenal or have a gimmick,” says Mike.

Intern Mike heard some Stevie Wonder, some Alanis Morissette, and, auditions being in the shadow of Newark-Liberty Airport and all, more than a few version of the national anthem. And lots and lots of bellyaching. The judges are mean. I never got to perform. It’s more about TV than singing. One poor gal was bawling on the bus after the judges told her, in no uncertain terms, “You can’t sing!”

He saw a lot of defiant ripping off of wristbands, and scores of angry parents. “Lots of crazy soccer moms and dads dragging along coolers and beach chairs," says Mike, "who are more enthusiastic than the kids."

That's it from Idol auditions 2006, Jersey-style.

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