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Pop / Rock 04/02/2002

Hear'Say auditions reject thousands

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LONDON, UK (Radio 1) - Auditions for the pop band Hear'Say have whittled 3,000 hopefuls down to just 100, after thousands were rejected before they had sung a note.
The initial selection process for the chart-topping band, prompted by the departure of former member Kym Marsh, was based purely on looks and image.

The streets outside Brixton Rehearsal Studios in south London by 9am, and many had travelled overnight or early on Sunday morning to be there. But after a brief selection process which took place outside the rehearsal studios, only about 500 remained, and they were the lucky few who got to perform for the judges.
After the auditions, in which the wannabes had to sing unaccompanied, another 400 were rejected.

London Weekend Television is filming the entire process for six half-hour TV shows, in much the same format as the show that put Hear'Say together, Popstars.
It proved to be a ratings winner, and gave Hear'Say invaluable publicity, helping them achieve a record for the fastest-selling single for their first release Pure and Simple.
LWT controller Bob Massey told BBC News Online he thought the turnout was "amazing", adding he was relieved he was not having to choose the new member. "The people here needn't worry, there won't be a 'Nasty Nigel' on the panel," he said, referring to Nigel Lythgoe, who was famed for his caustic comments to the pop wannabes on Popstars.
The judging panel consists of the group, their manager Chris Herbert and Paul Adam, who took part in Popstars.
Mr Massey added that Hear'Say hoped to announce the new recruit to the group at about 1700 GMT on Monday.

Mr Adam said he had seen "a number of possible stars", adding: "This time we will not have time to check out their backgrounds. I personally wouldn't mind if we had a single mother like Kym.
"However, there will be a number on standby in case we discover someone isn't at all suitable." He added that "although everybody has written Hear'Say off, I think unfairly, perhaps a new band member will act as a catalyst for new success".

Marsh left the group last month, amid a flurry of media speculation that she had fallen out with fellow member Myleene Klass.

But with a huge UK tour looming, Hear'Say are acting quickly to replace her, after announcing the auditions last week. Many of the hopefuls who had been rejected simply joined the back of the queue and tried to get in again. But Mr Massey said the organisers were trying to prevent this by marking the end of the queue so they could spot who was trying to rejoin it.

Amanda Coutts, 19, from Essex, told BBC News Online the selection process was "unfair", after she was rejected. "I was down to the last 60 in Pop Idol - I can sing but they didn't give me a chance," she said. Ms Coutts had travelled to the auditions from Doncaster with her mother, and they had left at 0500 GMT to get there.

'Whisper'

Billy Knowles, 20, also from Essex, added that he thought the prettiest girls were being turned away. "I think the girls in the band don't want any serious competition," he told BBC News Online. "I wouldn't be surprised if they choose a boy to replace Kym."
Christopher Manning, 23, from Poole, in Dorset, was one of the lucky few to be invited back for another audition on Monday at the same venue. He explained that the hopefuls were split into two rooms and asked to perform a song of their choice in front of a panel which included either Foster and Shaw, or Klass and Sullivan. "The panel all had a little whisper among themselves after each performance. It was the longest five minutes of my life."

'Challenges'

He added that there were "a lot more boys than girls being asked to come back so perhaps they would prefer to find a boy who was suitable". Band member Sullivan said he sympathised with the people lining up for auditions, adding: "It's nerve-racking for us too. "There have been some great singers and about nine or 10 really stood out."

Klass said that taking on a new member would "bring with it new challenges". "Contrary to some reports, we are a friendly bunch and they'll soon be one of the gang," she said.






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