Looking for a new 'Idol'

-- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:53 AM ET

It's been dubbed the Hung Effect and Canadian Idol judges don't have time for it.

On last season of American Idol, contestant William Hung generated international attention for his horrific performance of Ricky Martin's She Bangs. This season, the American franchise has spent several weeks showing the auditions of contestants equally appalling who are hoping to capitalize on the unlikely star's fame.

But that won't necessarily be the case when Canadian Idol rolls into Calgary tomorrow.

Host Ben Mulroney says "you can smell a fake. If someone fakes a dramatic reaction, you can tell."

But that's not always the case as Mulroney learned last year on the East Coast.

"One strange kid showed up and we couldn't tell if he was living on another planet or faking it," he says. "He had a pocket protector and he wore medals of accomplishment to protect him from bad feelings. We couldn't tell if he was for real or not, so we put him on TV."

Either way, Mulroney says, it made good TV.

But judge Farley Flex is looking for more talent in the audition lines, or at least people who genuinely believe they have talent.

"I enjoy the fact that somebody who has no inhibitions will muster up confidence whether they are good or not," he says. "I get into the psychology of the show. Some people are in search of some kind of self-worth."

Whereas American Idol parades these talent-less screechers before the judges for a good laugh, the Canadian component opts for a more gentle approach.

"I'm more of a nurturer," says Flex. "If someone's not good, I'll tell them, but I will only laugh at people who want to be laughed with."

For those Calgarians hoping to be the next Kalan Porter, Flex offers some insight into what makes the judges ooh and ahh.

"I'm looking for great singers, people who are unique or distinct," he says, adding last year he told Porter during his Edmonton audition he would be crowned Canadian Idol.

Zack Werner, on the other hand, is looking for someone genuine, says Flex.

"If he sees something phony, he'll dig to find the real."

Jake Gold wants respect and Sass Jordan wants to see good singers and beautiful people

Mulroney is after people with interesting stories to tell, or at least interesting reactions.

He's also struck by how competitors hear things that haven't been said.

"The judges will say, you're not going to Toronto but you have a good sound ... and they'll come out and say the judges are pricks. There has got to be a psychological explanation to this phenomenon," he says.


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