Well, At Least He Did It His Way!

Fordham’s American Idol (Almost) Chris Cordeiro Shares His Behind-the-Scenes Experience


Back at Fordham, Chris Cordeiro, FCLC ’14, practices for his next attempt to become an American Idol. (Sara Azoulay/The Observer)

We’ve all tried it. First peeking around the corner, making sure no one’s looking, you quickly close the door, grab your microphone, position yourself right smack in front of the mirror and belt out those incredible notes that you would rather keep to yourself. Sure, you’re not reducing people to tears of joy with your sweet notes, but you can’t help but picture yourself getting a shot at the rock star status.

“American Idol,” the television talent search for the best singer out there, attempts to be the answer to that rock star dream. It seems to be a sincere effort to find people with those hidden talents, turning the ordinary into the extraordinary.

Chris Cordeiro, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’14, became a part of this process on Sept. 10, 2010. The FCLC freshman tried out for “American Idol.” As he snapped and bobbed his way through Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” the three famous judges, Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler, looked on with skeptical disbelief.

“You scared everyone in the room,” Tyler said.

Yes, it was really awkward and a bit outrageous. But it seemed normal. Obviously Chris wasn’t going to be the next Kelly Clarkson, and sure, his outfit was a bit bizarre (a plaid green shirt, straw hat and cargo pants), but what else would you expect on the first episode of “American Idol”?

However, when I got a chance to sit with Cordeiro, who did little more than just stumble along a couple of notes during his audition on the first episode of this season of “American Idol,” the failed performances that seemed natural at first started to look a bit set up.

Originally from Arlington, N.J., Cordeiro was never intent on becoming a star; he was not even very familiar with the show.

“Well I never really watched the show,” he said. “It was a friend of mine who was actually planning to try out herself, but she was considered under age at the time of registration, so she asked me to go in her place.”

So it was no surprise that the quirky singer didn’t fare so well in front of Lopez, Jackson and Tyler, the latter of whom provided the most criticism, targeting Cordeiro for being “unprofessional” among other things.

Cordeiro described the first audition as “more difficult” than he imagined. “There were three stages that you had to go through, the first being in Giants Stadium. I registered on the last day, and you get your ticket called according to the order of registration. So since I registered on the last day, I was called third to last. There were about 20,000 people that auditioned… Each person got 15 to 30 seconds. You just step in front of the producer, sing and then step back.”

The process seemed quick and unfocused for a show that is based on finding the right kind of talent. According to Cordeiro, the filming spanned two days, but was made to look like one. Contestants were informed that they had to wear the same clothes that they wore on the first day.

Even the Miley Cyrus song rendition, “Party in the USA,” was forced; the group was filmed singing the song boisterously, as if everyone coincidently chose to do so.

With all of the staged singing, fixed scenes and the false you-can-do-it attitude, you would think that Cordeiro would seem just a bit upset at becoming a part of this satirical game. Rather than choosing to showcase Cordeiro’s talent, the producers seemed to exploit Cordeiro’s imperfect performance.

But Cordiero takes this revelation pretty mildly. “It’s a show. It’s trying to do both funny and professional. They’re doing what they can for ratings. The aspect of it all is to just have fun with it.”

His family, who was there to support Cordeiro through the whole process, is enjoying the attention from their son’s comical performance. “They’re enjoying it more than I am,” Cordeiro said.

Given the ruthless treatment that less-than-perfect performers receive on American Idol, I would rather stick to my hair brush and one-person audience than be portrayed as a musical spectacle. But for Chris Cordeiro, the process is nothing but showbiz. “You’ve got to take it for what it is,” he said.