January 18, 2012 08:10 PM by Candace Young
Ten years after it all began, and Kelly Clarkson became the first winner on American Idol, thousands of hopefuls gather in Savannah, Georgia to follow their own American Idol dreams on Season 11. Judges Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, and Steven Tyler promise a fresh new season on FOX. Keep reading for the highlights of tonight’s auditions…
American Idol is in Savannah for the first time, so host Ryan Seacrest tells us. Randy Jackson strolls around repeating, “Season one, one.” The first contestant we meet is a cool kid named David Leathers Jr. who purports to be a real chick magnet. He’s 17, but looks 12. David sings Remember the Rain and blows the judges away. They ask for some Michael Jackson and he accommodates. All three put him through to Hollywood.
Gabby, another teen, is excited to meet Ryan Seacrest on American Idol, but is also hoping to earn a certain facial expression from Steven Tyler. She enters the judging room and rushes over to hug Nigel from So You Think You Can Dance, which amuses Randy to no end! Gabby’s rendition of Sunday Morning is beautiful – it’s a unanimous ‘yes’. She rushes out to tell everyone Steven Tyler did ‘the thing’ (insert pucker face here).
We see half a dozen or so other screaming golden ticket holders go through to Hollywood. Jessica Whitely isn’t one of them. Despite her determination she murders her song with a positively froggy sounding voice. After a prolonged silence, the judges pronounce it ‘awful’. Jessica muses that she may just be dehydrated, and says she’ll see them in Texas. Jennifer wants someone to tell her not to make that drive!
Worth a laugh – Ryan Seacrest meets his lookalike/soundalike/wannabe, Shaun Kraisman, who makes the rounds of the place before auditioning. It’s just so-so, and he doesn’t make it through.
A 15 year-old is featured next – Shannon Magrane – she brings her entire family in for an introduction after revealing that her father once played in the World Series for the Cardinals. Steven puts a wrinkle in the feelgood moment by remarking that Shannon is hot in front of her father. On the plus side, her audition’s strong and she goes through. Dad gets his sense of humor back.
Next we’re treated to a series of yellers and really cringe-y auditions. They’re followed by Amy, who lives in a tent in the middle of the woods. The judges are speechless. She sings Super Woman by Alicia Keyes. She infuses her version with soul and style – she’s through. This may be a way out of the tent – what a story that would make!
An overeager southern boy, Joshua, rattles the judges by running into things as he makes his way into the room. Joshua does a Jason Mraz tune that isn’t the worst thing ever, but doesn’t cut it. Steven cracks up when Randy suggests a second song. They gently send Joshua on his way. He cries and has a hissy fit.
Stephanie Renae, a super nervous 15 year-old, has been anticipating this moment since age 8. She nails a Carrie Underwood song. J-Lo compliments her throttle (huh?). Steven says positively yes, Randy says no, and Jennifer puts her through.
Schyler Dickson is there to audition with her brother Colton, who was on last season. The judges talk Colton into trying out again. Schyler looks a little ticked at having to share her moment. In the end, Schyler and Colton, aka the repeat offender, both go through.
Lauren Mink, who works with people who have Autism and Down’s Syndrome, sings Country Strong and gives Jennifer goosebumps. She’s got an amazing country voice – can’t wait to hear more from her! She’s through to Hollywood.
Mawuena Kodjo comes in full of confidence, telling the judges he wants his ticket – he’s going to blow them away! He sings Rascall Flatts and Randy fights not to crack up – let’s just say he’s far from being the next American Idol. They send him on his way, with Randy challenging him to prove that he was wrong to give him a ‘no’. Mawuena and Seacrest hit the streets and return with a contingent of young girls and an elderly truck driver-type willing to attest that he should be given a shot. Hilarious! It’s still a no.
Dreadlock-wearing contestant, Ashlee Altise, does a raptor-like dance before launching into Come Together. Steven says she’s got spirit and spunk – she does! She’s through.
Appomattox-born, W. T. Thompson, is unemployed and his wife is pregnant. He sings for the panel, but it’s good, not great. Steven says he’s not ready, but J-Lo gives him a yes. Randy is swayed and he gets the golden ticket. Mmm…it seems his story nudged him forward to the next round.
Hopeful Erica Nowak, says Steven Tyler is her future ex-husband. She’s not sure she’ll be able to control herself during the audition. Once in the judging room, Randy pushes for a hug between the two. Steven obliges, and she cops a feel! But that’s not it – she can actually sing. Following the audition, Randy gets his hug – and his ass squeeze. She’s through.
The next girl is a hot looking, slender blond, and is a dancer. Brittany Kerr is also a pretty good singer. Steven gives her a yes (shocker – he first said yes before she sang), Jennifer says no, and Randy puts her through after a bit of deliberation.
Last audition of the day! Phillip Phillips (real name), who works in his dad’s pawn shop, declares he can’t let this opportunity slip out of his hands (in his cute southern twang). While Phillip’s in with the judges, his mother flirts with Seacrest. It turns out Phillip has a raunchy voice that makes Steven Tyler do ‘the face’. He picks up his acoustic and impresses the panel even more doing a funky version of Thriller! They love him, I love him – he’s going to Hollywood.
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Photos courtesy: FOX