HomeBlogsMister Tim's blogAmerica's Got Talent, pt. 3

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American may got talent... but they don't got us!  They didn’t show us!

This is the final report on my experience auditioning for America's Got Talent... and I hate to to break it to you, but it's kind of anti-climactic.

 My group moosebutter did in fact audition in front of the judges, on camera, for America’s Got Talent.  In Los Angeles, in May. 

For those watching at home, we auditioned right after the indoor kite flying guy (we watched him from the wings, standing next to Nick Cannon), who was right after a comedian/ventriloquist they didn’t show (but they put his picture up in the slide show on NBC.com), who was right after the ‘vocal instrumentalist’ that was shown some weeks ago.  The guy with the headset mic spitting 'drums and guitar'.

We auditioned in front of the judges, and they buzzed us out.  Quickly.  Sharon buzzed us first: she of all people I thought would fall in love with Weston’s cuteness, as most older ladies do.  Not to be.  She buzzed us about 5 seconds into our song: “Witch Doctor,” the only one of our many tunes they could get cleared through their licensing department. 

The other two judges followed very quickly – right as the chipmunk voice started.  So, we made it about 10 seconds into our song.  The judges were rather harsh: quoth Piers, “if you are going to come out here dressed like idiots, we’re going to treat you like idiots” (a great line, really!  I’m surprised that didn’t make it on the air).  We protested: that’s the whole point!  We’re idiots!  That’s what we do, is sing like idiots!  You didn’t even get to see our whole idiot act!  10 seconds is hardly long enough to pass judgement on someone, idiot or not. 

 I mean, they let the really awful acts go on for the full 90 seconds sometimes.

We argued with them, and the audience actually took our side: the audience was booing the judges, and yelling for us to sing more.  They wanted to hear us.  America wants to hear us, we said!  The audience agreed!  The judges did not.  That was the end.  Bye-bye.

(Cut them some slack: it was almost dinner time).

It was a fun experience for us, and we understand fully (as should anyone who watches the show) that 1) there was never any guarantee they were going to like us, that we were going to advance, or that we would get on television, and 2) reality shows / competitions contain reality the same way juice boxes contain juice.  That is to say, it is an ingredient, but not the sum total of what’s going on.  Possibly not even the most important part of what's going on.

For example, notice every episode (and it was almost every episode) where they show the last act: cue the tender music, cue the voiceover that says “the day is winding to a close, and there is one last person waiting to audition”… except when they show that person sitting in the audition room, there are still a dozen or more other acts waiting there.  Last person?  Hardly.  Does ‘last person at the end of a long day’ make better television?  Absolutely.  If I were producing the program, would I do the same thing?  Probably.

The groups that auditioned on the same day as us, in LA, auditioned on 4 different days, according to the way they were aired on the show, and at least one in a different city than they auditioned in.  Does that matter?  Not really.  As long as you, the viewer, understand that everything is manipulated.  YOU are manipulated.  That’s what television is: manipulation of viewer response to sell hamburgers and American automobiles.  

Most of the good adult acts that advanced are actually professional, gigging acts.  They are not amateur, even if their interview on the show says they are.  They are coached to talk about their non-performing lives: in our on-camera interview, I was encouraged to talk about how long I’ve been trying to be a musician, and my previous job as a librarian.  Those things are true… never mind that I was last a librarian in 2003 and that I’ve been doing music full-time since then.  But it just doesn’t make good television to show a professional entertainer  

We did hear from our producer that they were thinking about airing a bit of our act, it would have been on the last audition episode, but I think they got that Susan Boyle interview and had to shorten things.  So no us.  

I’ve personally learned a lot from watching the show from an insider perspective.  The show is not, IMO, to find the best talent in America (anyone who watches knows that the groups that advance are certainly not the best talent).  It is not to reward acts with a dream job in Vegas (most of the acts that advance wouldn’t work in Vegas, and notice they never actually say that part of the prize is a Vegas show: they say acts are competing for a CHANCE to perform in Vegas.  I can give you a CHANCE to perform in Vegas; send me an email and I’ll throw in some prime desert wasteland real estate for a great price while you’re here visiting).  It’s not even to reward someone with money (the $1 million prize is paid out over 40 years, which, after taxes and such… isn’t really that much, especially if you’ve got more than one person in your group). 

The purpose of the show, is… to sell advertising.  They pick acts that they think will appeal to the demographics the advertisers are selling products to. 

There are a lot of people writing good things about the show, most of them wondering what exactly the point is.  I recommend the write-ups at EW.com

 And after it’s all said and done, it could have been much worse!  They could have put our part on the show as part of the losers montage and made us look really bad.  They could have put us through and then dismissed us from an airplane hanger.  They could have brought us into a second audition (interview?) and manipulated us into crying on camera and then told us to go home.  Seriously, that was low class.  Booooo.

 And in case you haven’t heard it before: THEM BUZZERS ARE LOUD.


That sucks

You know, I was just watching the show after surfing through channels and came upon it. I stopped specifically to see if Moosebutter was gonna be on since I am a big fan of their music. They crack me the hell up big time!

I was disappointed when they weren't on and now I read this. I am well aware of how manipulative TV is but this really could have been one area where actual reality could have been "good TV" too.

Awe hell, at least some a cappella groups are getting some exposure through all of this albeit bad in some cases. But really, look who the judges are. Just like with Paula Abdul criticizing people's tuning as if she could tune even a little, David Hassellhoff is hardly to be considered a credible judge. And what has Sharon done other than nurse her hubby back from a drug-riddled, alchohol-driven stuper and reality TV? To be buzzed by them is really a joke and an insult to our intelligence if you ask me.

This only makes me worry more about the Sing Off a cappella Idol show coming up in the Fall. That just has "make fun of a cappella' written all over it as I doubt we will see much from the truly great (in my opinion) a cappella artists. Rather I expect to see plenty of senior citizen BBSHOP and doo wopp groups in silly outfits confirming many of the stereotypes about a cappella that we are all trying to shatter. (not that there's anything wrong with the aforementioned styles or types of groups. but you get what I mean)

AGT said "You're going to VEGAS!"...until we weren't

Hey there Tim, Danny from 42Five here to tell you a little about our experience with the show, now that it has all played out.  We were contacted back in February to attend the Miami auditions from a show producer who had stumbled upon our website and thought we would be a good fit for the show.  After much internal deliberation about whether reality tv was a good move for us, we decided the exposure if we made it, out-weighed the possible negatives.  

We went down to Miami and were put up in a hotel on South Beach, given a (very small) per-deim, and told to be in the lobby the day of the show taping in front of the judges.  That morning, while at breakfast, we receive a call from our producer telling us they needed us to be there early, so we rushed back to the hotel, got our show clothes on, etc, and were taken directly to the Jackie Gleason theatre... where we waited.  And waited.  And waited. Finally, our producer had us film some interviews where they basically tried to coach us into a story or two, but being that all of us are working musicians, there really wasn't much to say in the way of an AGT "story".  After waiting since 11:30am, we finally hit the stage as the second to last act at 9:30pm. Our song was Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now", our fifth choice of five songs we submitted for clearance. The crowd was up and cheering as soon as we hit the first chord of the intro, and then Piers gave us the X... and you're not kidding, it is LOUD!!   By about the 30 second mark, Sharon joined in with another X, and I was thinking we weren't going to finish, even though the crowd was cheering.  But the third X never came.  We took our critiques from Peirs and Sharon ( the terms boy-band and old were used a few times) while we were defended by David as being great singers and having "Talent" which the show was about.  With the crowd chanting Vegas Vegas Vegas, they put us through.  

From there came the largest talent contract I've ever seen, lawyer reviews, internal group conflict over whether the show was worth the possible contractual obligations and the final decision that we would see where it went and make the most out of the opportunity.  Except the opportunity never came.  We received a call two days before the Vegas taping telling us we would not be going to LA and not to come out, and me receiving phone calls from Sean and Heath from Mosaic asking where we were and if we were on our way to the greenroom.  The next few weeks involved cautious viewings of the show to see if they would put us in a bad audition montage, re-edit our audition to say we didn't get through, or even show us at all.  Thankfully, they chose the latter and we could breathe a sigh of relief.  

On Tuesday, I sat at home and cheered on my buddies in Mosaic while watching the judges and show obviously champion the other, less-talented acts in search of their next Susan Boyle, and although I voted to my capacity, had a bad feeling they weren't getting through.   

So now, we all move on, grinding and working the old-fashioned way: by performing shows that get you hired by word of mouth.   



You are! You aren't! You were! You weren't!

I've heard identical stories from lots of acts, not just from this year's competition: lots of Vegas acts I know (many magicians DON'T HATE ME yes I actually do know magicians) told they were going to the Vegas round, and then two days, two weeks, two months later getting the call, sorry, not going through.

I think I understand why this happens, since I've had it legitimately confirmed by AGT producers that the one thing that is absolutely, positively NOT manipulated is the judges reactions to the acts.  The judges like or dislike or buzz or pass through whomever they want.  They do all kinds of crazy stuff in post-editing to make it good television, but in the audition rounds the judges have absolutely no limitations or recommendations.

The consequence is: they might pass through 45 acts to the next round, or they might pass through 400.  Too many, and the producers obviously have to cut the number down.  They told us right in the audition room: even if they say you're going through, that doesn't mean you're going through.

So they finish the last day of the last city's auditions, and then the producers sit down and look at all the groups that made it through, and decide from there what they actually want to go through.  Then they manufacture a retched airplane hanger / judges on an airplane making last minute cuts / send most of the groups home episode to explain why so many of the groups that 'made it' didn't actually make it.

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