The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Student Advances in ‘X Factor’

Freshman Sydney Niermann practiced for weeks, travelled to L.A., woke up before dawn, stood in line for five hours and waited for her turn to audition for even longer–all for one minute.  Her preparations paid off. Her audition for the first round of season 3 of ”The X Factor,” a singing competition show like “American Idol,” earned her a spot in the next round of auditions.

Then, just last weekend, she made it through the second round of auditions. This means that sometime in the next few months, Sydney will be performing in front of the judges–who Sydney said will include her idol, Demi Lovato, among others.

Out of the 10,000 people that auditioned for the first round, only 500 succeeded. Because the odds of success were so low, Sydney knew that she had to set herself apart to make the cut. So during her performance, she ripped off her t-shirt to reveal an “X” painted on her stomach.

“I really needed to make sure that I would be on my A-game, and unique enough, and … have that x factor, not to sound cheesy or anything,” Sydney said.

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Sydney also tried to distinguish herself by choosing to perform an acapella version of the song “Ice Ice Baby,” partially because no one had performed that song on “X Factor” before, and also because she liked rap and hip-hop.

“I just thought it was funky and different and I could make it my own,” Sydney said.

In the five months leading up to her first audition at the University of Southern California, she practiced the song and accompanying hip-hop dance for four hours each week. However, she didn’t practice by having a completely formal and pre-set routine because she wanted to keep an element of improvisation to her performance.

It was important for Sydney to keep her routine fresh and her spirits up, especially because the producer judging her didn’t seem enthusiastic. Sydney kept her pep up, however, and went even more all-out in response.

“Regardless of what he was thinking, I just wanted to do the best I could because I was there, I couldn’t let nerves get to me, I only had one shot, you know one minute. I used that one minute,” Sydney said.

Although the producer kept a flat face, Sydney noticed him bobbing his head. He was ultimately impressed.

“He debated it, he thought about it for a bit, and I was really worried that I wasn’t going to go through because he had a flat face,” Sydney said, “and then he pulled out this yellow ticket … I screamed and started crying.”

She ran through the “yes” doors, where she was greeted by producers and journalists. Once she got home, she started preparing for the next round of auditions, for which she sang “California Girls.”

She’s currently preparing for the third audition, which she described as “the big audition,” by taking vocal and dance classes after school.

The second time around, Sydney was more excited to go back to L.A. than she was nervous. However, she had to cope with a lot of stress leading up to her first audition. To keep her mind off the pressure during her free time in L.A., Sydney exercised, walked around downtown and went to a hockey game with her father.

Sydney’s father has accompanied her to auditions and supported her throughout her audition process. He’s also one of her role models.

“He started off really small and he worked really hard to get to where he is right now, and so I want to be able to do that someday too,” Sydney said.

Like her father, who has had a talk show and now runs a production company, Sydney hopes to be an entertainer.

“I’ve always been an entertainer, I guess you could say, I started acting in commercials and stuff in the third grade and singing has always been a passion of mine,” Sydney said. “I wanted to get myself out there.”

Sydney has had prior experience in this area–in addition to being in the commercials, she’s also been on a talk show–but auditioning for “X Factor” was a part of a larger new experience for her: living in the United States.  Before this year, Sydney lived in China and Australia.

Her family moved from Hong Kong  to California due to her dad’s job. Although living in the United States has been a major change for Sydney, it has had some definite benefits, such as enabling her to audition for “X Factor” in the first place.

“Watching ‘American Idol’ and all those other shows back in Asia, [I thought] when I move to America I’m going to do that,” Sydney said. “And then when I moved here and ‘X Factor’ aired I was like that’s the show, I’m doing that, because ‘X Factor’s’ the whole package; you’ve got to have stage [presence].”

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