The X Factor Auditions

American Idol’s ratings are down somewhat since the departure of creator and panelist Simon Cowell, whose snarky appraisal of talent was the show's main draw. (For example: “If your lifeguard duties were as good as your singing, a lot of people would be drowning.”) The sharp-tongued judge has since taken on a bigger project, and he's scouting the country for the US version of his UK hit The X Factor, a music competition that will bestow a $5 million recording contract. Today, he and his scouts will be conducting all-day auditions, so the Key is sure to be swarming with thousands of starry-eyed hopefuls. And yes, you can be one (or gawk from the sidewalk). But the throng of wannabes is projected to be so great that wristbands for admission will be issued beginning at 6 a.m. the preceding day! So pack a waterproof jacket, lunch, and a book to keep you occupied until your turn to blow Cowell away—or receive his insults. Don’t be nervous. Just think of it as a free job consultation on whether you should stick with music or move on to the next phase of life. (Cowell and company will return June 28-29 for a live taping of our regional finalists, at a venue to be announced.) ERIKA HOBART

Wed., April 20, 8 a.m.; Tue., June 28; Wed., June 29, 2011

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