Here’s your American Idol 11 Savannah auditions recap post. I’ll be live blogging tonight at Entertainment Weekly. Do join me there if you’d like! I’ll be back here as soon as the episode ends on the East Coast to post videos, polls and a full recap!
For you chat fans, I also set up a client here if you’d like to gab Idol. So you’ve got tons of choices tonight for to engage with you fellow fans on the VERY first night of American Idol 11! I’m excited!
Where were you when it all started? Home movies of the hopefuls watching American Idol as little kids emphasize the tradition and history behind American Idol. It separates the “gold standard” from the wannabes nipping at their heels. The kids will be documenting their journeys with personal video cameras, for the first time ever. It could be interesting or really really boring.
After the intro package, the new Idol intro runs. I see Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, David Cook, Fantasia, James Durbin, Haley Reinhart, Pia Toscano, Casey Abrams, Lauren Alaina, Ruben Studdard. Then the past 3 winners—Kris Allen, Lee DeWyze and Scotty McCreery. The rest are Season 10 contestants managed by 19.
Forty-two singers make it to Savannah from Hollywood.
Still. The opening is CGI space age.
I always appreciate when the judges don’t concentrate on the trainwreck auditions. Tonight’s group were all fairly talented. But none of tonight’s hopefuls were truly buzzworthy. Well, maybe Ashley Altise and her Joy Hop.
Even Phillip Phillips, who was saved for the pimp spot didn’t knock me out. If it were still Season 5 or Season 6 he would have seemed revolutionary. But a boy with a guitar changing up pop songs? Ain’t no big thang any more.
David Leathers, Jr – 17 – “Remember The Rain” by Century 21 – David’s friends call him “Mr. Steal Your Girl”. O rly? David looks like he’s about 12 years old. And it’s obvious he hasn’t been hit by the puberty stick yet…he sings with an impossibly high falsetto, hitting some really crazy notes. Randy says he reminds him of a young Michael Jackson. Jlo wants him to sing some MJ, and David pulls “Never Can Say Goodbye” out of his back pocket. The judges shout YES in unison. This kid’s got a sweet tenor, but it remains to be seen if he can handle being pulled out of his comfort zone. And God forbid his voice begins to change in the middle of the competition…
Gabi Carrubba – 16 – North Haven, CT- Sunday Morning by Maroon 5 – Gabi’s a tap dancer. She performed with the diaper brigade! She’s another kid who has grown up on Idol and is SO excited to meet the gang. When Gabi enters the audition room she wants a hug from…Nigel Lythgoe! Pretty sure THAT’S never happened before. But of course, she’s a huge SYTYCD fan. Gabi’s got a really nice tone and has a way with a phrase. For a 16 year old, I’m impressed. “You nailed it” says Steven, “It may be your magic moment.” All the judges say yes.
Next it’s a montage of singers who definitely deserve more than 5 seconds. 15 year old, Brianna Faulk, 20 year old Neco Starr and 15 year old Molly Hunt are young, but impressive. Elise Testone is 28 and has one of those whisky soaked voices that you don’t forget.
Jessica Whitley – 19 – Cuyahoga Falls, OH – In This Song by Charice – Well, she looks normal, doesn’t she? She sings the Anthem and has performed at talent shows too. But when she opens her mouth to sing…she performs like the devil suddenly possessed her. Terrifying guttural sounds come out of that child’s throat. “Awful,” says Randy. Steven says her ball isn’t quite going through the net. Jessica claims to be “dehydrated” rather than “Untalented”. Undaunted, Jessica is headed to Texas to audition again. Aw. They compare her vocals to the original version and it’s kinda mean. She must be cringing with embarrassment tonight.
Shaun Kraisman – 26 – Mt. Pleasant, SC – Oh Girl by the Chi Lites – Dude is under the delusion he looks and sounds like Ryan Seacrest. Other than his hair resembling Ryan’s 2003 do, they don’t sound or look alike. Ryan joins Shaun in the audition room. Ryan seems so fascinated by his so-called doppelganger, I thought maybe the two needed to get a room. Shaun’s shouty singing is better than I was expecting, but that’s not saying much. The judges turn him down. Randy says he would have liked it better if he’d sung it like Ryan Seacrest.
Shannon Magrane – 15 – Tampa FL – Something Got A Hold On Me by Etta James – Another young one. Her dad played baseball for the Cardinals. She’s a volleyball player and at 6 ft tall she reminds me a little of Ayla Brown who used to play B-ball up the street from me at Boston College. Shannon drags her giant family into the audition room. Dad asks Steven about the weather in Boston and he says “Hot Humid and Happening….just like your daughter.” REALLY STEVEN? REALLY? She’s 15. Shannon’s vocals lack control, but she’s got a nice sweet tone. I’d say come back in a few years. But the judges put her through unanimously.
It’s a montage of terrible, terrible singers!
Amy Brumfield – 24 – Gatlinburg, TN – Super Woman by Alicia Keys – Sob story dead ahead! Here’s something new. Amy is homeless, but she and her husband live in a tent out in the woods! He works odd jobs to make money and they have an adorable pooch. Amy is super chipper as she shows Seacrest around her humble abode. Look at us! We live in a tent, but we’re still happy. Yet she’s TRYING TO GET OUT OF THE TENT. Amy’s vocals are solid, raspy, but unremarkable if I’m being honest. “Spirits in the children of the woods snuck into you, and I like that.” Steven Tyler is at his absolute best when he makes no f*cking sense. Jlo calls her a “hipsie”. They all send her though. “Out of the tent and into Hollywood,” says Steven. Amy asks if she can pitch a tent behind the mansion. Whatever floats your boat, honey.
Joshua Chavis – 23 – Camden SC – I’m Yours by Jason Mraz – Joshua’s biggest dream is to sing the National Anthem at a NASCAR race. Dream big, Joshua, dream big. “I’m going to leave my nerves outside the door with my boyfriend…” Oh awesome. A gay redneck. Yay for busting stereotypes. They dude’s drawl is so thick (and I suspect put on) that subtitles sure would have come in handy. Joshua loves him some Jlo. He says his voice has been compared to Chris Daughtry and Brad Paisley, but he sings like a chipmunk that’s being strangled. Not a good thing! The judges say no. “Your voice just ain’t there, man,” says Steven. Joshua busts out more singing, but Randy stops him. “Terrible,” he says, “No no no no.” Joshua bursts into tears with his family. Storms out of the building, “Get out of my face with your cameras. STOP FOLLOWING ME.” And finally…he flips the bird. American Idol 11 has finally been christened.
Stephanie Renae – 15 – Orange Park FL – Inside Your Heaven by Carrie Underwood – One more Idol baby who can’t believe she’s finally auditioning for the show. Holy crap, she’s singing Carrie and Bo’s horrifying coronation song, “Inside your cooter,” er, I mean “heaven” That’s an Idol baby for you. Memories of confetti falling on the head of her favorite Idol robs her of the ability to see what a horrible horrible song TPTB forced Carrie to sing. Stephanie has a very forced tone, especially in her upper register. Her tone is unpleasant. Jennifer calls it “nasally”, but thinks a couple of vocal lessons will cure it. Randy, the sensible one, says no. No way is she ready for this, but Steven and Jlo say yes anyway.
Schyler Dixon – 16 – Murfreesboro, TN – Break Even by The Script – Colton Dixon – 19 – Murfreesboro, TN – Permanent by David Cook – I smell a set up! Colton and Schyler Dixon auditioned last year. Schyler was cut in Hollywood, but Colton made it all the way to the Top 40, where he was cut. So, am I supposed to believe that he tagged along with his sister to Idol auditions with no intention of singing for the judges? BITCH PLZ. Schyler sings first, and quite frankly, she was better. She’s got a lovely tone with a pretty lilt. The judges “prod” Colton into singing. His “Permanent” lacks nuance and shading, and I’m just not feeling it dude. The judges put them both through. Randy says Colton has grown more into who he really wants to be.
Lauren Mink– 25 – Winchester, KY – Country Strong by Gwyneth Paltrow – Lauren is a director for a program for adults with disabilities. The producers travel out to her workplace to film, so you know they’re invested in Lauren who has got a nice country twang with just the right amount of heartbreak in her catch. Yeah, she sings this song way better than that poseur, Gwyneth Paltrow. Jennifer has “goosies” “You’ve got so much passion around the notes,” says Steven. Randy compares her to Jennifer Nettles. Of course, it’s 3 yeses.
Mawuena Kodjo – 25 – West Africa/Nashville – I Won’t Let Go by Rascal Flatts – I seriously have no idea what’s going on here. Mawauna’s accent is so thick, the producers choose to subtitle him. Is this African dude really a country singer. Erm. No. He’s so completely out of tune, it’s impossible to take him seriously. He’s convinced he’s a great singer. To prove him wrong, Ryan takes him out in the street to find one person who likes his singing. This is old, old shtick, by the way. Finally, they find a family of little girls who, I think, just want to get on TV. Or the producers offered to buy them lunch. Grandpa says, “We think he’s great. We want him to go to Hollywood.” I think your punking us sir! Dude to Mawuena: “Are you a runner?” Lolz.
Ashley Altise – 28 – Kinston, NC – Come Together by The Beatles – Ashley invented the “joy hop” and it’s about to become the newest sensation. She’s got FUNK. ENERGY and CONFIDENCE. She’s gonna give Jlo a run for her money. After Ashley demonstrates the “joy hop” for the judges she launches into a performance of “Come Together” that isn’t half bad. I might even take her seriously if she wasn’t such a nut job. Her performance is like Naima Adedapo gone very very wrong. Nevertheless, Ashley is put through to Hollywood. She looks like the type who could have a meltdown or two.
W.T. Thompson – 25 – Appomattox VA – Boondocks by Little Big Town – W.T. was a prison guard in Appomattox. He gave up his job at a federal prison to audition for American Idol. Oh. And his wife is 6 months pregnant AND completely on board with his decision. Yeah. This guy better be crazy talented, right? Well. No. He’s got the kind of voice that decent but not quite good enough. Steven doesn’t think he’s ready. Jennifer wants to take a chance on him. Randy thinks he’ll get eaten alive…but says yes anyway. I hope his poor baby doesn’t starve after he gets cut from Hollywood.
Erica Nowak– 28 – Buffalo, NY – Super Duper Love by Josh Stone – A montage of Steven Tyler kissing and hugging the ladies, including a grandma introduces Erica, who considers the rocker her future ex-husband. When she finally gets to hug him she goes straight for his ass.. But Steven doesn’t seem to mind. “You better sing good,” says Steven. She’s got an interesting throaty tone, but her phrasing is really weird. “The best moment is when you grabbed my ass,” says Steven. Randy says no to Hollywood, but yes to a hug. Erica does not grab his ass.
Brittany Kerr– 24 – Charlotte, NC – Spoiled by Joss Stone – She’s a sexy NBA dancer. Steven and Randy are ready to say yes immediately But Jlo is not impressed. Personally, this feels like a set up for a storyline where the guys vote the pretty girl right through, while the girl withholds her vote like a jealous cat. We’ve seen this scenario played out on Idol before. Jennifer says her voice isn’t strong enough. But Brittany is solid, if a little dull. Steven gives her some tips on how to be less boring. But it probably won’t matter if she keeps wearing those crop tops.
In case we forget the people the judges want to pimp, we see a montage of favorites that include Gabi, David, Lauren and a dude we haven’t met yet. Doesn’t he have a name?
Phillip Phillips – 20 – Leesburg, GA – Superstition & Thriller – He must have the most unimaginative parents ever. He works at his dad’s pawn shop. His first song is really shouty. His second, performed with a guitar, is much better. He’s a good guitarist. But, changing up a pop song like “Thriller” with an acoustic guitar? Been there and done that. “It’s like you have electricity going through your body,” says Jennifer. The producers allow him to perform with his guitar at his audition. Unheard of. Now you KNOW the producers want him to advance. But how far? Could you imagine if this guitar playing white boy won Idol? The producers are going to cut him off at the knees. It’s just a matter of when.