One Year of X Factor: Part 8 – Last Stop Las Vegas

At the end of each stage in this competition, I ultimately find myself waiting for the judges verdict. Each time it seems all the more excruciating. The long pauses, the self doubt & the nerves, all amplified. The scenario is perfect for television but just a nightmare for us contestants. But all anxiety is swiftly removed the moment those words leave the judges mouths. Yes. Or. No. Each is so final.

For both occasions at bootcamp, my result was on the favourable side. And after the latest one the result meant Home Visits!! Unbelievable!! Ridiculous!! Both, adjectives I’ve used before to describe this experience but seriously, what else can I use?? I first stepped through the doors at Flemington months ago just hoping to be able to sing at a Judges Audition & now I’m heading overseas!! TO SING!! It’s like I’ve jumped into another world…

(after 14 hours in transit)

It’s 40 degrees, in the middle of the Australian winter & I’m recovering from what felt like 3 days straight in a plane. Where am I? Las Vegas Baby!!! You see it in the movies, the lights, the shows, the parties. Everything is bigger and better in Vegas! Well so I’ve heard, and now I get to find out for myself!

We’re here for about 5 days. We have a mentoring session Day 2 with RedFoo, we sing for him & his guest judge Day 3 and then verdicts Day 5!

Whoa..This is looking good!
We’ve got some serious free time on our hands!!
This is going to be easy!! Right?
Wrong, of course.. Well kinda.. 

First night starts the trip off in style, we meet Foo! He arrives, of course, standing out the top of a stretch hummer in a green & leopard print leather jacket! Wow! Then, the night proceeds to us cruising along the strip, in that stretch hummer, drinking champagne!! Can someone please remind me what life this is? And what am I doing in it?

But it’s not long before we remember, and it especially applies to us contestants, that Vegas can be trap! We’re here to sing for Live Shows & we can’t be tempted by the vices that the bright lights can offer. So it’s time to behave until the business is done!

It’s now day 3, before our main performance. My time so far has been about striking a balance. I’ve been practising, been mentored by Foo (in no less than the high rollers suite at the Aria…amazing!), eaten healthy & I’ve slept well. But I’ve also seen the sights, toured the strip with my roommate & fellow contestant Jason, hit up the pool, had a sneaky drink & just enjoyed myself. My nerves have crept in and out because of the circumstances, but I feel good!

After an afternoon of filming in different locations (another common activity during our stay), we’ve been moved to Zarkana, the main theatre of the Aria Casino, where they hold their Cirque Du Soleil Show. It’s where we’ll be performing, it’s beautiful & it’s huge!! This is when the nerves jump, and then they start building even more. I, in just my 4th performance, have to sing in a huge, empty theatre for 2 people who just so happen to be international superstars!! Consider me daunted!

My nerves are funny this time around though, I’m not so worried about my performance for some reason. Foo’s told me that I can’t rely on being a new performer, so I need to step up. But I think that’s something I can overcome. I just feel like there’s been some huge hurdles in this competition so far & I’ve managed to overcome them, why not do it again? I’ll just sing my heart out & it’s up to the judges to make the call!

After sound check which again for me, was terrible, we were moved around the hallways of Zarkana. Unaware of what’s next, keeping our voices ready, drinking water at every chance, getting more and more nervous. Everyone’s knowledge of what’s at stake is so evident on our faces & our anxiety is only heightened again when we’re told we’ll be meeting our guest judge & performing for her pretty much straight away…Gulp!

By now it’s close to 10pm & we’re swept onto the stage. From there, In the space of half an hour, we meet our guest judge Nicole Scherzinger (Pussycat Dolls), get interviewed about her, move to a small holding room, wait for my turn to perform, be interviewed about how nervous I am to perform (Yes I’m bloody nervous!!), then find myself standing on a red dot, centre stage of one of the biggest theatres in Vegas with a microphone! In front of me, sit only RedFoo & Nicole Scherzinger with the expression “well, sing for us!”.

Do they always have to rush it like that??
I feel like I’ve barely taken a breath!
Wasn’t I touring the strip 5 minutes ago?? 

So without a chance to realise how ridiculous this situation is that I’ve found myself in, the music for my chosen song, Wicked Game by Chris Isaak, starts… (deep breath)

“How did it go?” asks the interviewer. My initial thoughts are good & actually I’m really excited! I came all the way to Vegas to sing for 2 minutes, the last thing I wanted to do was stuff up & I didn’t! I’ve done it! I’ve got all the way to Home Visits, given every ounce of effort that I’ve got & done my absolute best! Time for a drink!

That night and the following day were all about enjoying Vegas. Performances were done & it’s  totally up to the judges. So knowing that we now have no control, Jason, Reigan, Steph, Amali, Rochelle & I enjoyed what Las Vegas had to offer!! Sun, Shows, Cocktails, Craps, Pools…It felt like reward for what had been a huge journey for all of us! So we soaked it all up!

But of course, we know the next day will come & with along that night, that great feeling will only remain for half of us…

(almost 48 hours later)

That final night has now come. My mood has now changed. Totally. I’m nervous, I don’t want this adventure to end & I’m feeling like it will. If I’m honest with myself, I’m surround by 5 incredibly talented performers who’ve refined their craft over many years. The talent that the judges have told my I’ve got can surely only take me so far.

We’ve been moved to a balcony apartment in the MGM Grand where we wait. Foo, waits on the balcony of next door with his decision. The room I’m in has an incredible view of the lights along the strip so as I wait, it’s a great time to reflect on the journey; From practising alone, to walking through the doors at Flemington, to singing Truly at Hisense, to Bootcamp with the group challenge & Man’s World, and now Vegas. If it ends now, I have nothing to complain about, this whole adventure is something I’ll never forget. As I’m thinking back, one-by-one the other contestants are moved to the next room where we don’t see them again. Now I’m called.

As I’m led into the next room and through to the balcony I’m totally numb, I’m psyched as much as I can that it’s over, but there’s still plenty of hope. And now, here I sit at the end of home visits like so many contestants in years gone by, waiting for my verdict. The whole moment feels like time has slowed to almost a stand still, but I’m of course willing to wait to hear what RedFoo has to say…

But no matter how much I want otherwise, unlike all the other stages in the competition, he says those final words: “I’ve gotta send you home”

Initially sure, for a very small moment, I was shattered. But something strange happened in the second after & maybe it was a product of all that reflection. All those incredible moments from along my X Factor Journey flooded back & before I could say a word I knew the only 2 that they could be. And they were “Thank You”. To RedFoo and everyone involved for taking me on the ride of my life.

Yes, the disappointment will hit me soon enough, but that’s not come yet & it’s time to go home. There’s 14 hours of plane flights ahead of me! Back home. Back to real life.

Continue to Part 9…