How to ace a boyband audition: be nice and don’t sing Adele

Louis Walsh is holding auditions in Dublin this weekend. How can hopefuls impress the man who led Westlife, Boyzone and Girls Aloud to fame?

Don't sing Adele
Did you hear that? Don't. Sing. Adele. Reality-show singing contests and pop-band auditions are so plagued by Adele songs that the first note from Someone Like You is enough for the trap-door lever to be pulled. Aoife Kelly of Sony Music worked with Westlife for five years. "No Adele. My God, no. No Mariah, either. Do something different. Maybe take an older artist or look at something that's been in the Irish charts – Kodaline, for example. There are different ways you can make an impression. Trying to sing an Adele-esque kind of song, you see from all reality-TV shows, is done to death and doesn't work very well."


Visualise victory
The only way to do well is by picturing it. Niall Breslin, aka Bressie, is a musician and coach on The Voice o f Ireland . "The best way to get rid of nerves is to visualise yourself doing it over and over. In the lead up to it, close your eyes and see yourself standing there, performing, getting great feedback. That's not mumbo-jumbo, because when you're there you feel like you've done it before. Nothing anyone can say can really get rid of nerves, because it depends on the person, but by visualising the performance, by visualising Louis saying, 'That's amazing,' all those things will help grow your confidence."


Emphasise your personality
Be yourself and remember that being nice is preferable to being a diva. You're not a pop star yet. Sinéad Sheppard, who runs a school of dance in Cork, was in the band Six, managed by Louis Walsh. Their single Whole Lotta Lovin' was the third-biggest-selling single in the history of the Irish charts. "I remember talking to Louis after my audition, and, even though a lot of it goes on talent and voice, they do spend a bit of time talking to you, and they want to see that you're confident and see your personality shine. Being overconfident is a real turn-off – people that think they have it already or they have nothing to learn. Being cocky is a no-no."


Be confident but not cheeky
Aoife Kelly of Sony Music knows that Louis Walsh likes "genuine people". "What I would definitely say to people is to come across as genuine as possible. People don't realise how that really is something people look for. Simon Cowell adored Leona Lewis because the girl couldn't be more open. If you walk in with confidence and a smile, and you're not putting on an act, it'll set you off on the right foot. Some people have this idea that they need to be a cheeky chappie, but that often looks like you're trying too hard, and the likes of Louis will see through that immediately."

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Choose your song wisely
No Adele or Mariah, and there are a few other rules too. "Don't do a song that will just show off vocal acrobatics," Aoife Kelly says. Sinéad Sheppard says, "Stay away from the huge singers. No one is going to be better than Mariah Carey at her songs."And for Bressie? "If you can't better it, or put your own slant on it, don't go there. Oversinging is the biggest mistake for amateur singers. A great singer has good delivery and intent; you don't have to do the vocal acrobatics. Ideally, if you can pick a song that has your own personality in it, that's always good. That shows you've got musical ability and you aren't just going in doing karaoke. Stay away from Adele and from Jessie J – especially Price Tag . For Price Tag you need to have a very modern voice, almost a rapping voice, and if you don't have that it's a car crash."