The X Factor Comes to Colorado

May 7 2013, 1:13 PM

Think you have a $5 million singing voice? Give it your best shot next week right here in Denver.

The X Factor, executive producer Simon Cowell's latest musical competition, is holding open auditions on Tuesday, May 14 beginning at 7 a.m. at the Denver Coliseum. The most impressive crooners will be sent on to subsequent rounds in Hollywood for the third season of the show, which will air later this fall.

The X Factor champion wins a $5 million recording contract with Sony Music Entertainment, but the competition's runners up have also done well: Boy band One Direction finished third in the show's British version before launching its multiplatinum career, and Colorado's own Rachel Crow had a memorable fifth-place run during the American installment's first season and is now a budding music, TV, and film star.

The Fox network show is one of many performance competitions vying for eyeballs these days. Cowell, the former "bad boy" judge of American Idol fame, decided to bring The X Factor to American television three years ago after a successful run in the U.K. What sets it apart—besides the massive prize—is that it divides performers into teens, young adults, over-30s, and groups, so a wide variety of talent has the potential to win. (Last year's champion, country singer Tate Stevens, came from the oft-dismissed over-30 category.)

This is the first time the show has held Front Range auditions, and The X Factor producers never know what kind of crowd to expect; they draw hopefuls from all over the region. Executive producer Andrew Llinares says 16,000 would-be contestants showed up to a recent audition on Long Island. "We've had great turnouts throughout the country, but that one was memorable," he says. "It just shows what kind of interest there is in this life-changing prize."

To earn the money, you need to bring considerably more to your audition than just a good singing voice. "We want people to not only make a song choice that's very personal to them, but we want them to really think about what to wear and how to present themselves," Llinares says. "We want people to come in and show why they are superstars." 

He says that holding regional auditions and rotating the sites from year to year enables The X Factor to divine its talent from all over the United States, not just the coasts. "People will drive 10 to 12 hours to get to the auditions, and we like going to smaller cities like Denver or Charleston where you can get people that aren't necessarily the 'normal' people to audition," he says. "We're hoping to get some real uncut diamonds from Denver."

—Image courtesy of The X Factor