About 3,000 people arrived early in the morning for the 7 a.m. registration start, lining up around the back of the Izod Center in East Rutherford, said "American Idol" senior producer Patrick Lynn. The people queuing up wanted to get in as early as possible when auditions start on Tuesday.
"They think the earlier you try out the better off your chances are, which really isn't true," Lynn said.
Lynn said prospective contenstants are often tired in the morning. "I always find the people I see in the middle of the day are better than the people in the morning," Lynn said.
Dominic Bradford, 18, of Jersey City, arrived with two other friends at 3 a.m. The three pointed to a light pole near the center to show where they were waiting.
"I was definitely sleeping on that ground," Bradford told The Star-Ledger of Newark.
Bradford's friend, 18-year-old Marlon Brightman, said his favorite contestant was himself. "For this season, it's going to be me," he said.
"He's definitely his own favorite," Bradford said.
According to Lynn, people who make the cut are "good singers with personality or better," or "just interesting performers." "What we are not looking for is the people who are trying to be bad, because anyone who is trying to be bad really isn't that interesting," Lynn said.
Each contestant has about 20 seconds to impress the judges. New Jersey was the last of eight stops for auditions. When auditions were held at the Meadowlands in 2006, about 16,000 aspiring singers showed up.
"We come to New York because we know we're going to get good talent and we know we're going to get good attitude. So we've seen a lot of good New York confidence," Lynn said.
The eighth season of "American Idol" airs in January.