One Year of X Factor: Part 7 – It’s a Bearded Man’s World

Since the start of bootcamp, the final performance has always been the end game in everyone’s thoughts. And now that I’ve managed to progress past the first challenge, it’s the same for me.

But first, the next morning includes a surprise. We meet our judges! After breakfast, we’re all led outside & suddenly, from a car in front of me & the other remaining over 25 contestants, out pops RedFoo!

“Wooooo!!! Yeah baby”

Unbelievable…ridiculous…I’ve hit a couple of notes at the right time & now
I’m standing next to RedFoo?
Somebody pinch me!

It’s the coolest news we’ve had, but of course, true to form, it’s a double edged sword…We’re here to compete & they’re here to find a winner. So we’re told about the next stage of the competition.

The challenge: Learn a song in 24 hours & perform it live in front of a crowd of 1000! Both now, are things that I can say I’ve done before, so that’s not quite as daunting as it might have been a month earlier (a strange, but kinda cool, thing to realise!).

The goal: Somehow, get to Home Visits. Somehow, manage to earn 1 of 6 places in RedFoo’s Over 25 category. Somehow, find something extra to make that happen.

(hours later…following last night’s after-midnight effort)

I’m waiting to meet Foo for a one-on-one vocal workshop, where I’ll get my song & show him what I might be able to do with it. But I’m exhausted. Most of my 5 hour sleep was spent on the bathroom floor of my hotel room due to the combination of an awful fold out bed & nearby snoring. Also, the airconditioning has wreaked havoc with my voice… This could be interesting.

Finally, at 10:30pm, after being awake for over 16 hours on nearly no sleep, I meet Foo & I get my song. It couldn’t be more of a challenge, it’s Man’s Man’s Man’s World by James Brown. I can barely talk, but I need to show Foo everything I’ve got to, if nothing else but, give a good first impression. So I do, somehow I hit more notes than I miss & he likes it! But I leave the room with one key piece of advice..

“You’ve got to sing with you eyes open man!!!”
And I know it.

(noon, the next day)

We’re all filed onto the stage of The Star’s theatre one-by-one for sound check.. The nerves return every time I have to sing & I’ve chosen not to sing the song all morning to protect my voice. So we’ll see what comes out. My turn’s arrives, so I walk out on the stage and get instantly nervous at the sight of the main producers of the show staring back. They just radiate their powerfulness…scary. But of course, without delay, the music starts.

(2 minutes later)

Awful, just awful.. I sounded scratchy, I couldn’t control my notes, I coughed into the mic & the audio just sounded yuck. It was the worst singing experience I’ve had so far, it’s probably my first moment of overwhelming negative thinking that I’ve had in this competition. But I know thinking like that will get me no where.. I have about 5 hours to prepare & psyche myself up.. So I’d better get cracking!!

The next period leading into the evening’s performance is quite the emotional rollercoaster, and I started at low. I’m surrounded by talented but nervous performers, thinking constantly about my throat, thinking constantly about my lyrics. It’s not a good environment. So I search for relief. And it strangely comes in the form of dinner! Sure, I hardly eat, but getting away from that high pressure environment gives me an air of confidence! Optimism even! It makes a huge difference & after an hour I head back to the contestant holding area.

(another hour passes)

I’ve been waiting for a while now. Every few minutes, muffled in the distance, I hear a voice, then the crowd, then another voice. One-by-one, voices performing for their lives in the competition. I must be up soon. I do feel better about what lies ahead than I did before, but won’t lie, I am extremely nervous, like totally freaking out on the inside!! Because still, this is the SECOND time I’ve performed in front of a crowd.. I’m not in the same stratosphere as my comfort zone!

I’m called.

The next 2 minutes go like this: Get filmed walking towards the stage… Interview Luke Jacobz… Stand side stage & be handed my mic… Crouch in a ball behind the curtain in a fit of petrification (is that a thing? Well I just made it a thing)… Hear RedFoo introduce me… Stand up, smile, walk on stage…Crowd… Lights… Cameras… Music starts. (deep breath)

(3 minutes later)

I’m looking at Luke Jacobz again… I’m shaking, I’m empty, I’ve got absolutely nothing left inside me. Whatever was there 3 minutes ago is gone, into what I can only describe as… I don’t know! I felt possessed, like something strange happened that had never happened before.. It was incredible.

I’d heard the advice “pretend no one’s watching”, but this time was different…This time I knew there was a whole lot of people watching but it didn’t scare me! It actually did the opposite! I knew everyone was watching & it made me want to give them the best 2 minutes that they could remember!! So everything came out! My voice found a gear I never knew I had.. I moved (in my own way…haha).. I opened my eyes!! Even though I was singing with a single piano behind me, I felt like there was a huge, powerful, freight train of a band behind me!!

I won’t really ever know how much the crowd actually enjoyed that moment, or even if they’ll remember it! But that is now over. I’m empty. My contribution to bootcamp, to this competition, done. So Luke just gets all I can give…and that’s a hug.

The night has ended. The cameras turned off & the next hour filled with phone calls to family & friends. Yeah, I cry to them a bit. But bootcamp has torn me, and all the other competitors, in half. Everything I could have done has been laid on the table for the judges. Tomorrow, is all about verdicts.

Continue to Part 8…