We all know the drill for these big name idol groups nowadays. Need to refresh the group? Tired of the same old faces? Losing a member? That can all be fixed with auditions!
Except I think it goes a little deeper than that.
I'm making this post because very recently, I auditioned for a play. Luckily, I got cast in it after some nail-biting callbacks but at the end of the day happy as I was, there was still some part of me that thought about those that didn't make it. And as I mused upon that, my mind eventually started thinking of the auditions idol groups have. And that was when I realized something about how we view the auditioners. As fans, I think we tend to focus more on the end result and who we want to win. I know that when S/mileage's 2nd Generation all I could think about was how happy I was that Akari got in and slightly annoyed that Kana got in, etc. When the results came out, all the other finalists just flew from my head. And that's perfectly normal for human beings. After all, why should I get attached to some girls I'll probably never hear from again? That's the reason why I can never get really invested in new member auditions because of that tugging regret I know I'll feel if someone I pulled for doesn't make it. Like Karin. I was so certain she'd get in to S/mileage yet here she is: beautiful voice, cute personality, and still lingering in Eggs.
See that? That's all the girls who did not get into Hello! Project. And these are just finalists from the S/mileage auditions and the Morning Musume 8th, 9th, and 10th Generation auditions. I couldn't find any information about finalists for the previous generations but do you know why? Because you never hear from them again. Okay, I take that back. There is a handful of rejects who do end up finding more or less success in the entertainment industry.
But other than that? Have you heard of anyone else outside these girls who's achieved as much success as they would in Momosu? Probably not and that's what got to me. I guess you could say I had a weird kind of epiphany. I think we tend to forget that while yes, these girls are auditioners, they're also people. They have hopes, dreams, vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and a lot more behind their pretty faces. And forgetting that is perfectly normal too! Because we never get to see any of that; all we're presented with is the amount of talent, looks, and a hint of a personality that just might be fabricated. So we judge that, deduce who's in and who's not and just forget about the rejects easy as that. But if only it were really that simple. When you add the feelings and thoughts these girls might have, the situation gets much more complicated and sad.
Like I said before, I audition for plays. Acting is something I really love and I've been pursuing it for the past three years now. But it's been hard. When you audition for something, you get butterflies. All sorts of scenarios flash through your mind ranging from the director flat-out handing you the part you want to the same director booting you out the door laughing at how much of a failure you are. And when you're name is finally called to read/do a monologue/dance/sing/whatever, all the tension builds up and is exerted in either a positive or negative way. But the audition itself isn't even the worst part: the waiting is. After the audition, there's a period of time between that and the cast list coming out. That same tension grows even more like a bad tumor and you find yourself thinking "Did I get the part? Did I get the part?" nonstop. It's almost more exhausting than the auditions because you go through your performance nitpicking each detail from the way you moved, the director's reactions, the reception of the audience, even what you were wearing and how you acted offstage.
Honestly, when I auditioned for my first play and didn't get the part, I cried. It hurt. For the past few months I had been picturing myself up on stage, surrounded in lights, and delivering the greatest performance ever. In hindsight, I really wasn't a good actress back then but that's beside the point. I was crushed. And that's pretty much how my first few auditions went. Buildup, letdown, rinse and repeat. But something just... changed. The more experience and training I got, my approach toward auditioning changed. Now when I don't get cast, I just feel empty. It's like I dump everything that could have happened if I'd gotten the part and yes, it still hurts but I've learned to suck it up and move on. But what about these girls? Experience or no experience, auditioning still hurts. Especially if you're idealistic about it.
It probably hurts even more with the high number of auditioners. Take the Momosu auditions. I did some math and statistics and tallied the rounded amount of auditioners to the girls who got in. The results? Only 33 out of 117,738+ girls who auditioned even made it into the group. When you do the math, that makes getting into Momosu roughly a two in ten thousand chance. Think about that. For every two girls, there are ten thousand others just like them that are probably just as hopeful and think they have a chance. And they do! But when it boils down to everything, they just weren't picked. There's nothing we can do about it, no magic time machine to alter the results. But what happens to these girls? What comes after the audition, after they're cut?
The more I thought about it, I realized I could put myself in the shoes of these young auditioners because I've been in the same situation they have. And I've probably felt the same way some of them have. The hope... that's the worst part. I don't know why but at auditions even when I've convinced myself it's highly unlikely I'll get cast the little voice of hope in my head goes "But there's a tiny chance you might!" Said voice also sounds like a fairy on crack but whatever. I think that idealism is what causes a girl to have the motivation to try for Momosu, believe in herself despite the statistics, and keep clinging to that goddamn hope. So when they don't get into the group? Who knows? For all I know, some girls could be completely fine and it could haunt the other rejects for years. The worst part is this isn't just an audition for some stage play in some obscure theatre, where the most notice anyone will get is your name not being in the cast list. For these groups, when you fail the audition everyone will know even if it's only for a moment. For a brief time, they will know that you didn't make it. When the new, shiny members are paraded and shown off to the world, a pile of rejects are piled in the obscurity never to be heard from again (with a few exceptions). How would that feel? To have your failure broadcast on a national scale, to possibly never live it down, to know that you could have been so close but at the end you just missed your dream? Even when you find a new dream or a new purpose in life, does that failure still stick around like a scar?
Take Kashiwagi Yuki. Cut from the third round of Momosu auditions, now leader of Team B in AKB48 and 3rd place in the last Senbatsu elections. Kikkawa Yuu. Finalist of Momosu auditions, dumped into Eggs, now pursuing a career as a soloist. Koda freaking Kumi. Cut from 3rd Generation auditions, now one of the most influential and controversial singers of the J-pop industry. They all bounced back despite these obstacles and I admire them for that. But I wonder if they've ever thought about the auditions. Do you they see them as failures? Do they linger in the back of their minds even when they've achieved much more success than Momosu? Two years ago, some nasty politics got me cut from a play and I remember how I carried that feeling of betrayal and failure in me for so long. Finally I let it go, but it was hard. I think we as humans tend to hang on to our failures more tightly than our successes. Every time we do something right, there's still a bit of us that sees it as a "take that" to something we failed to accomplish.
Will this ever change? Probably not. These instincts and feelings are only human and no amount of hand-holding can change that. So yes. There will be rejections, there will be tears, there will be girls who fade into obscurity just as quickly as they rose to prominence. But that's how auditions roll. And there's nothing you can really do about it.
But seriously Tsunku, the fans hate you for shafting Karin.