Rock on!

Crime, Law and JusticeTelevisionEntertainmentJustice SystemMichael HutchenceDave Matthews

There's something inherently wrong about waking up at 6:30 a.m. Sunday to put on black glitter eye shadow. When I left my house an hour later, I looked as if I was doing the walk of shame after a crazy night out: black halter top, shiny red pants and stilettos. My hair was big and beautiful, and my smoky eyes and glossy red pout were ready to "Mystify" when I auditioned for "Rock Star: INXS" (Monday and Tuesday nights on CBS; Sunday nights on VH1), the new Mark Burnett show that's looking to replace the band's late, great lead singer, Michael Hutchence.

I should now note that the only singing I've done in public was during a boozy night at a karaoke bar, but as a huge INXS fan, I decided to give the audition a shot anyway.

Around 8:15 a.m., I arrived to find a line of "Rock Star" wannabes outside of Schubas. The crowd was mostly dudes with long hair, jeans, black leather jackets and a hell of a lot of keyboards and guitars. Some of the guys looked like Hutchence himself. Next to them, I looked like a chick desperate to be a groupie.

I waited, trying to calm my nerves. But when news of the first auditions filtered out, I started to relax. Apparently, a Robert Smith look-a-like went in and sang a Dave Matthews song. Huh? Another guy rapped the "Humpty Dance." Interesting. Then I breathed a sigh of relief when I heard there was no Simon Cowell-like snark from the judges. In fact, there really weren't any judges. Everyone got applause and words of encouragement. Wow ... can I get a hug, too?

Around 10:45 a.m., I was ushered inside with 14 other hopefuls to get a number and have my mug shot taken. When they called numbers 46 through 60 into the audition room, I was very glad to be 59.

Before I knew it, I was up. But, the pressure was on: One woman played keyboard and did Radiohead's "Paranoid Android" and most of the guys strummed guitar to original songs.

I adjusted the mic, held my number up, told them I was Karen from Chicago and that I was singing "Devil Inside." Since I was the only person to do an INXS song out of our group, I got a couple of hoots and a shout of "alright!" from the production crew.

With two cameras rolling and a roomful of eyes on me, I started singing a cappella.

"Here come the woman, with the look in her eye," I sang. And then I went silent. Insert expletive here. I totally blanked. The rest of the song, bar the obvious chorus, was nowhere in my head. I lamely stated into the mic, "Uh, I totally forgot the words." Forgetting the words to a hit song of the band you're auditioning for? Not good. "Suicide Blonde" would have been more appropriate.

But, another contestant shouted out the next line-thank you! -and I was able to start over and make it through two verses and the chorus. I wasn't brilliant, but I wasn't half bad. One nice guy even told me I had a great voice.

Vocals aside, I think I looked the part with the big hair and black halter top with midriff-baring mesh. But alas, yours truly hadn't been called back at press time. They probably just lost my number.

"Rock Star: INXS," hosted by Brooke Burke and Dave Navarro, premiered at 8 p.m. July 11 on CBS.

Karen Budell is the metromix nightlife producer.

Originally published February 8, 2005. Updated Aug. 22, 2005.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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