It seems like just yesterday that Scotty McCreery was declared the Season 10 American Idol, and here we are back again! Season 11 is kicking off in Savannah, Georgia, with our old friends Steven, Jen, Randy, and Ryan. Let’s do this thing, y’all!
David Leathers, Jr., 17: First of all, David does not look 17. At all. On the upside, his voice is nice — high and clear, if not particularly unique. Randy compares him to a young Michael Jackson, which, yeah, we can see it. He gets through, of course. The season pretty much never kicks off with a “loser.”
Mawuena Kodjo, 25: Mawuena is from West Africa, and was inspired by Scotty McCreery’s win last year. He sings some Rascal Flatts and it’s painful. Randy challenges Mawuena to go find some people who think he’s good. He finds a pack of little girls and a grandpa, but he still can’t sing, so it’s still a “no.”
Ashlee Altise, 28: Quirky Girl Alert! Ashlee has invented a happy dance she calls the joy-hop. It’s ridiculous, and so is she, but so far it’s kind of charming. Her version of “Come Together” isn’t great, but she gets through on charisma. She probably won’t survive Hollywood, but she’ll probably drive whoever ends up in a group with her completely crazy, so: something to look forward to!
Amy Brumfield, 24: Amy lives in a tent in the woods with her boyfriend, because they can’t afford a house or a hotel. Her singing is a little messy, but she has a nice sound, and her story pretty much guarantees that she’ll at least make it to Hollywood — which she does, with three “yes” votes.
Gabi Carruba, 16: Gabi’s cute and young and fresh-faced, with a pleasant, jazzy voice. Her take on Maroon 5’s “Sunday Morning” totally works for us, and it works for the judges, too. An easy three yeses.
W.T. Thompson, 25: W.T.‘s wife is six and a half months pregnant, which probably puts her right on schedule to go into labor during Hollywood week. The judges like his voice, but aren’t sure he’s ready for the big time. He walks sadly out of the room, but — fakeout! He’s totally going to Hollywood.
Erica Nowak, 28: Erica refers to Steven as her future ex-husband, and gets the Scary Stalker Edit. Oh, possibly it’s because she’s creepy — she gets a hug from Steven and proceeds to grab his butt. Eek. Her Joss Stone cover isn’t horrible, but it’s not great. “The best note you hit was when you grabbed my ass,” Steven tells her. Burn! And bye, future ex-Mrs. Tyler.
Brittany Kerr, 24: Brittany’s an NBA dancer and is, predictably, smoking hot. Her voice isn’t as pretty as the rest of her, but it’s nice enough, and with a face like that, you know she’s getting through. Jennifer actually votes “no,” but Steven and Randy overrule her, and Brittany’s Hollywood-bound.
Joshua Chavis, 23: Joshua’s greatest dream in life is to sing the National Anthem at a NASCAR race. He also has a boyfriend. He’s also wearing flip-flops to his audition. Those things are all unrelated, but we’re painting a picture here, y’know? In other news, he’s kind of terrible, and the judges send him home with quickness.
Stephanie Renae, 15: Stephanie loves Carrie Underwood and is really, really nervous. Her voice is... huh. Her pitch is okay, but her tone is sort of unpleasant. The judges tell her she needs singing lessons, and then Jen and Steven put her through anyway. “I won!” Stephanie screams afterward.
Schyler Dixon, 16: Schyler auditioned last year with her brother Colton (19), who, incidentally, we totally loved. This year Colton’s sitting the auditions out — or so he thinks, until the judges insist he come in and sing as well. Schyler’s terrific, but the judges barely care, they want Colton to sing so badly. So he does, and he’s great, and they both make it through.
Phillip Phillips, 20: Phillip is blue-eyed and geeky-cute, and plays guitar, and we haven’t heard him sing yet but he’s almost definitely going to be Top 12; we know how this show works by now. He sings “Superstition” and it’s good, if a little over-the-top. But then he whips out his guitar and does a really cool cover of “Thriller” and okay, we’re into it. So are the judges, and he gets three very enthusiastic “yes” votes.
Over the next two hours, according to Ryan Seacrest: Brianna Faulk and Molly Hunt, both 15, make it through, along with the Bruno Mars-esque Neco Starr (that cannot be his real name, right?) and rocker gal Elise Testone.
Jessica Whiteley, 19: Ouch! Just ouch. Screechy and off-key and why has nobody ever told her she cannot sing?! She finally stops singing, there’s an incredibly long, awkward silence, and then: “Awful,” says Randy. Bye, Jess!
Shaun Kraisman, 26: Well, he looks and sounds exactly like Ryan Seacrest and they bro-flirt with each other for approximately 3 hours and it’s adorable, so, point in his favor. Unfortunately, his singing is not an additional point — he’s going for a blue-eyed soul sort of thing, but it doesn’t really work for him, and he gets cut.
Shannon Magrane, 15: She’s 6 feet tall and a volleyball player and super gorgeous, and her dad is a former pitcher for the Cardinals. But can she sing? Yes! She’s rough around the edges, but she’s got potential. Lots of personality, too. She could be one to watch. The judges put her through, obviously.
Lauren Mink, 25: Lauren is blond and pretty in a wholesome kind of way, and she works with adults with developmental disabilities. She sings “County Strong” which is presumably from the Gwyneth Paltrow flick of the same name. She’s a much better country singer than Stephanie Rene from earlier. The judges love her and she sails through.