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'The X Factor' Auditions Come To Chicago

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Think you can handle Simon Cowell's harsh criticism? Got a great voice? Then sign up to audition for "The X Factor" next month. The popular U.K. show created by Cowell himself is making its way to the U.S. this year after auditions are held in major cities across the country, including Chicago.

Like "American Idol," Cowell's "X Factor" pits vocal talent against a panel of judges with music industry experience. It's been responsible for the launch of several big-name artists, including Leona Lewis. However, there are some key differences. There's no upper age limit, contestants can be as young as 12 years old and vocal groups are welcome to audition along with soloists. Additionally, the finalists are mentored by one of the judges during the competition.

This year's judges will include Cowell and record exec L.A. Reid, plus two new soon-to-be-announced judges. The finalists will surely deal with plenty of harsh feedback and major challenges, but in the long run there will be a huge payout. The winner will get a $5 million dollar record deal with Sony Music. Basically, if you've got a voice then this is a can't-miss opportunity.

You'll have to register in order to secure an audition. And that may not be easy given the competition. At the first audition day in Los Angeles on March 28, more than 18,000 people showed up to get a shot at fame.

In order to get your chance to strut your stuff, you'll have to show up on April 26 at the Sears Centre Arena for a preliminary screening. Those who get a callback will perform the next day in front of an audience. For more info, you can sign up for updates on the official "X Factor" website.

Tuesday, April 26 and Wednesday, April 27
Sears Centre Arena, 5333 Prairie Stone Pkwy., Hoffman Estates