‘American Idol’ Kicks Off 11th Season with Auditions in Georgia

By ABC News

Jan 19, 2012 5:47am
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FOX, Michael Becker/AP Photo

“American Idol” kicked off its 11th season Wednesday night with auditions in Savannah, Ga.

Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson were back at the judges’ table. Here’s what they found:

The Good
Seventeen-year-old David has earned the nickname “Mr. Steal Your Girl” at school for flirting with the ladies, and he actually beat last year’s Idol champ Scotty McCreery in a local talent show a few years back. David sang “Remember the Rain” by 21st Century for his audition, and the judges thought it was very nice. The judges asked him to follow up with some Michael Jackson, so he launched into The Jackson 5′s “Never Can Say Goodbye.” The judges liked it, and he’s going to Hollywood.

Sixteen-year-old Gabi from Connecticut is an Idol super-fan. She walked in to the audition room and actually asked to give Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe a hug. She tried out singing Maroon 5′s “Sunday Morning,” and it was enough to really impress the judges. Steven said she nailed it. Gabi’s Idol dreams will be coming true with a shot in Hollywood.

Fifteen-year-old Shannon towered over the competition at 6-feet tall. She brought her big family into the audition room, including her dad who once played in the World Series for the Cardinals. Shannon tried out with “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” by Etta James with her family standing around her. Randy said she was vibing and rolling with that one. Shannon got the golden ticket and celebrated the good news with her mom, dad and sisters.

Twenty-four-year-old Amy from Gatlinburg, Tenn. lives in a tent in the woods with her boyfriend. They’re struggling to move out of it, and her boyfriend’s mom got her dress and jewelry together for the audition. Amy tried out with Alicia Keys’ “Superwoman,” and Randy liked her interesting, raspy vocal tone. Steven said her voice showed experience. Amy’s getting out of the tent and going to Hollywood.

Stephanie is a big Carrie Underwood fan and hopes to follow in the Idol champ’s footsteps. Stephanie sang Carrie’s Idol champion song “Inside Your Heaven.” She had a big voice, but Jennifer pointed out that she sang a little nasally. Randy didn’t think Stephanie was ready for Hollywood, but Steven and Jennifer gave her the go ahead to the next round.

Schyler tried out with her brother Colton last year, but she stepped out on her own without him this year. The judges made Schyler bring her brother in to audition anyway. Schyler tried out first with “Break Even” by The Script, showing off a very strong and distinctive voice. Colton tried out on the spur of the moment with Idol champ David Cook’s song “Permanent.” The judges thought they’d both grown since last year, and Schyler and Colton are both going to Hollywood.

Lauren hails from Winchester, Ky. where she works with adults with disabilities. She auditioned with the title song from the Gwyneth Paltrow/Tim McGraw movie “Country Strong,” and Jennifer got goosebumps during the performance. Steven loved Lauren’s passion, and she’ll be taking a break from her life in Kentucky to head to Hollywood.

Ashlee showed off her happy dance for the cameras. She calls it the “joy hop,” and thought the judges would like her for her funk and confidence. She turned in a funky performance of the Beatles’ “Come Together” complete with dance moves. Steven liked everything about her, and Randy said she was the right kind of crazy. Ashlee is on to Hollywood.

W.T. hails from a small, southern town in Virginia and recently quit his job at a federal prison to try out for “American Idol.” His wife is nearly seven months pregnant, so a lot was riding on W.T. making it on Idol. He auditioned singing “Boondocks” by Little Big Town, but Steven didn’t think he was ready for Idol. Jennifer and Randy gave him the green light even though Randy didn’t think he’d go very far in Hollywood.

NBA dancer Brittany definitely turned Randy and Steven’s head with her looks. She tried out singing “Spoiled” by Joss Stone, and even Jennifer ended up thinking Brittany was adorable. Steven liked her but thought she needed to project her voice a little more. Jennifer gave Brittany a no, but the boys voted her on to Hollywood.

Twenty-year-old Phillip Phillips works at his dad’s pawn shop in Georgia, but he’s hoping Idol helps launch his music career. Phillip auditioned with his big, soulful version of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” Phillip then picked up his guitar and performed a funky version of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” He was easily the best contestant they found in Savannah, and Jennifer described Phillip as having electricity running through his body when he performs. Randy called him a true artist, and he’s going to be competing in Hollywood.

The Bad
Ninteen-year-old Jessica tried out with “In This Song” by Charice, but she sounded like she was doing a really bad, aggressive, off-key Shakira impression. It definitely wasn’t what the judges were looking for, and Jessica was sent back home to Ohio. Randy said you couldn’t even call it singing. Jessica vowed to come back for Idol auditions in Texas a few weeks later.

Twenty-three-year-old Joshua had a lot of manic energy and actually screamed before he came into the audition room. He told the judges he was just letting some stress out. Joshua told them his voice was a cross between Chris Daughtry and Brad Paisley. We certainly didn’t hear any of those artists’ influence in his awkward rendition of Jason Mraz’s hit “I’m Yours.” Jennifer said Joshua was sweet and cute, but she didn’t think his voice was up to par. It was a no, and Joshua cried his way out of the audition area.

Mawuena [Ma-wEEna] is originally from West Africa, but now lives in Nashville. He’s hoping to break into country music, so he tried out with the Rascal Flatts hit “I Won’t Let Go.” We’re not sure if he actually has a concept of melody though. His tone-deaf performance left Steven and Jennifer in stitches, and the judges turned him down. Mawuena argued with Randy that he’d find people who disagreed with their decision. After pounding the pavement with Ryan, Mawuena brought in some little girls and an old man who said they liked his performance. It wasn’t enough to change the judges’ minds though.

Are You Kidding?
Shaun
thought he looked like Ryan Seacrest, so he showed up wearing a suit with his hair styled like Ryan’s.  The judges thought he talked like Ryan, and they especially loved it when Shawn said he’d do Ryan’s job for free. When it came time to sing, Shaun chose to sing “Oh Girl” by the Chi Lites. The judges loved Shaun’s personality, but his singing wasn’t good enough to get him to Hollywood.

Erica came in saying Steven is her future ex-husband. She thinks he’s “smoking hot” and almost cried in the audition. Steven gave Erica a hug, and she took the opportunity to grab his backside. When it came to actually singing, Erica tried out with “Super Duper Love” by Joss Stone. She didn’t make it to Hollywood, but Erica said grabbing Steven Tyler was good enough for her.

Thirty-two singers got the golden ticket in Savannah. “American Idol” auditions continue in Pittsburgh Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.

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