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'Copycat' competitor recounts the harsh reality of singing contests

_T2A9262The Voice premieres September 22, and those hopeful singers are in for a heaping load of psychological turbulence. As you might have guessed, being a contestant on a reality singing show is not easy. So many people dream of being on these shows, but what happens when you actually become a contestant? Mental torture!

What you don’t see on TV is all the preparation and waiting that the contestants do. Television audiences get their answers of who will and won’t make it relatively quickly, but as for the contestants, they have all that time on the plane, in the hotel, in the green room, backstage and even on stage to let their brains torment them. Singing is easy. Waiting for the results is the hard part.

I should know. This past summer, I was a contestant on MTV’s reality singing competition show Copycat, hosted by Mean Girls leading man Jonathan Bennett—who will be competing on the next season of Dancing With the Stars starting September 15. Team Aaron Samuels all the way!

mgid-uma-image-mtvThe whole process of these singing shows starts long before contestants set foot on stage. My experience began when I saw an announcement for a new MTV reality singing competition and spent months talking with and singing for producers, followed by filling out so much paperwork it made Salem’s Lot look short. The final step came when an executive producer called me on Skype from L.A. and said the words I have dreamt of hearing since I was a little girl watching American Idol safely from New Jersey: You’re going to Hollywood.”200 (5)

MTV flew me out to L.A., put me in a nice hotel, and gave me a stipend for my expenses and way more food than anyone could ever eat. But with all that fun stuff came responsibilities in the form of itineraries, even more contracts, constant email updates and detailed schedules.

20140116_144025I was in constant mental purgatory worrying about what would happen next. When we were shuttled to the studio in the white MTV vans, I worried about what the studio audience would think of me. My parents flew all the way out to L.A. just to be part of the audience. What if I let them down? What if they hear someone in the audience boo me or make some sort of remark about my singing … would they tell me? Or what if there’s some sort of record producer in the crowd? Maybe Jack White is in L.A. looking scouting a new artist for Third Man. Nah, he’d never show up to an MTV show … but Russell Simmons might. Do people even scout talent anymore? Isn’t it all done online? Oh, gosh, I better update my website!

When I got to the studio for rehearsals, I worried about whether I am energetic enough. Or maybe I was being too energetic. I didn’t want to come out looking like a contestant on The Price Is Right. But then again, I didn’t want to be a Kristen Stewart clone.200 (6)

Then we got to our lounge rooms, and the two guys I was assigned to room with are amazing singers. The more I heard them practice, the more I thought that I didn’t have a shot at winning this thing. But when I heard the girl next door practicing, and her singing sounded like a hybrid of Emma Stone’s rendition of “Pocketful of Sunshine” in Easy A and Cameron Diaz’s wine-in-hand song in The Holiday, my confidence started to go up. Wait a minute … maybe they put her in here as a joke. Kind of how William Hung got so famous on American Idol. Is that what they’re doing here? Putting bad singers in to make fun of them? Is that why I’m here? Am I going to be the laughingstock of America? This must be karma coming back to haunt me for that time I told Julianna what I really thought of her new haircut. 

Every hour feels more like 10. When we go to hair, makeup and wardrobe, I worried about how I would look in HD. Peo200 (4)ple should never have to see themselves in HD. Will anybody be able to see that pink bump on my chin that I tried so desperately to cover up this morning? Keep slathering on that concealer, Cosmetologist Liz!

After a pep talk with the producers, six of us were led backstage. I must have drank eight bottles of water at this point, because I had convinced myself this is the best way to keep my voice hydrated. I watched from the monitors as two singers perform Alicia Keys songs. And they totally nailed it. I am so not going to win this thing.

I was up to the stage next, but it felt like an eternity before I actually got up there. Jonathan Bennett announced me, but it didn’t register. I froze for a second, and then started my song from behind the black tape on stage left.

“We, we don’t have to worry about nothing.” I sang the first lines to Ellie Goulding’s hit Burn. By the time I got to the bridge, the audience cheered louder than I had ever heard. I had never been this pumped and felt like such a rock star. The audience screamed as I danced around the stage like I owned it. The heck with winning this competition—I see a record contract and platinum album in my future! Move over, Beyoncé: I am the new Sasha Fierce! 

2014-06-03 15.49.46Before I knew it, my singing time was up, and I actually had no idea how I did. Maybe they were cheering so loudly because of how bad I was and they were being sarcastic. Did I mess up the lyrics? Was I off-key? Did that guy in the front row wink at me?

Onstage, Jonathan bantered with another contestant and me, much of which got cut from the show. Then Jonathan announced that he would reveal the results. Can’t we just go for fro-yo or something? File some taxes? Do literally anything else? Please.

“Morissa, your score … will be revealed when we return!” he said. And my brain just exploded. Right there. On the stage.10364154_772564876107791_1969932569491835818_n

I had no idea they were taking a commercial break, and thought I might just have to pass out if I wait any longer for the results. Finally, after the longest commercial break in history, we’re back.

I was told that I have the low score and would be sent home. Just like that, it was over. But I know the truth … all those voters were just jealous of me. They didn’t want someone so clearly talented on the show anymore, because I made them feel bad about themselves. That was totally what happened there. Clearly, I was not bitter about my elimination.

So I spent another night in L.A., this time with no schedules or itineraries, then headed home on the plane the next day. On the flight, I just keep thinking about what the show would lo2014-06-03 15.59.28ok like on TV. I know they’re going to make me look like some ditzy blonde. I wonder how bad I actually sounded? What if they cut me from he show altogether? These thoughts continued until I actually got to see the show on TV an eternity later.

And you know what? No blemish was visible in HD, I didn’t sound awful, and I didn’t look dumb. And the guy who won the competition totally deserved it. And I went back to being myself. My normal, calmer, nerdy, popcorn-addicted, Full House–reciting, Jersey-girl self.

It all worked out. The emotional roller coaster was actually worth it. And the best part is, I finally got to say, “Look, Ma, I’m on TV.”

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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