CB’s Open Mic: American Idol Recap of Season 11, Episode 1 (Savannah Auditions)

Unlike American Idol, let’s skip the backstory and get right to it:

Please note: I’ll be commenting mostly on the good auditions only, since I feel there is no need to belabor the point on the bad ones:

David Leathers, Jr., 17, Remember the Rain Love that Idol jumped right into a good audition, as my love for the bad singers over the years has waned back down to tolerance. David definitely has a Jackson Five vibe to his voice, and he absolutely nailed his audition song and the first ticket to Hollywood is well-deserved. David sails through.

Foreshadowing? David is 17, yes, but his high voice and R&B-infused vocals make me wonder if the producers intentionally kicked of S11 with someone who is at the opposite end of the vocal/genre spectrum as Scotty McCreery to MAKE SURE we know they don’t just want country singers winning every year. Of course, the most hyped S11 contestant before tonight has been 21 year-old Baylie Brown, a country singer who was sabotaged by Antonella Barba and friends way back in S6, so who knows?

Gabi Carruba, 16, Sunday Morning – Gabi is pleasant-sounding enough with her audition song to make it through, but I question whether or not she has the ability to stand out when she is on a bigger stage and being compared with all of the others in the next round. I have the sense she will get swallowed up in Hollywood, but I could easily be wrong since I have been mistaken plenty of times before (see: Lauren Alaina). Gabi is a unanimous yes.

Seacrest lookalike? Better watch out Ryan, I bet the lookalike has a lower asking price than you do for taking on AI hosting duties … and like clockwork Randy makes that same joke

Shaun Kraisman, 26, Oh Girl – You know, Shaun was entertaining and I actually thought he didn’t sound as bad as the judges implied. He’s my first official snub for 2012 and my first official prediction for a segment on the S11 finale. Shaun is a no go.

Shannon Magrane, 15, Something’s Got A Hold On Me – Easily my favorite audition of the night to this point, Shannon simply nailed it. Shannon is an ALL CAPS YES for Hollywood.

Pink Sweater Simon Alert! More proof Idol isn’t X Factor after the break, with a slate of solid auditions and at least one inspiring (sob) story coming right up!

Amy Brumfield a.k.a. “Tent Girl”, 24, Supa Woman – Every year, American Idol features a handful of contestants that get nicknames based on either their unique backstories or their unforgettable auditions (monikers such as “Scooter Girl”, “Whip Girl” and “Bikini Girl” currently come to mind). Amy Brumfield garners this year’s first nickname – “Tent Girl” – AND this year’s first sob story … and I’m totally rooting for her already. I liked Amy’s raw vocal on Alicia Keys’ Supa Woman, though she’ll need to do a lot more work to realistically survive the next rounds of cuts. Amy is all-in.

Josh the Bad Audition Guy! Yup, I’m over trite time-wasters like this.

Stephanie Renae, 15, Inside Your Heaven – Yikes. This is one of those girls that has no business getting through to the next round this season, and in fact, a year or two of seasoning would do her good before being thrown to the Hollywood wolves. I feel like Stephanie’s late morning group round meltdown is almost / already inevitable. Randy says no to Stephanie Renae, but Steven and J-Lo override him. I’m on Randy’s side.

Yeah Right Alert! No way Colton Dixon doesn’t also audition with his sister Schylar. Can you say producers’ plant?

Schylar Dixon, 16, Breakeven – Wow, Schylar reminds me of Xenia from The Voice, a lot. But since I’m the only person who actually remembers anything from The Voice other than the judges and the juggernaut hit Moves Like Jagger, I’m sure Schylar is safe from all comparisons outside of this space.

Colton Dixon, 19, Permanent And of course, Colton sings almost perfectly here, especially for being put on the spot (not). At the same time, he’s definitely Top 10 material this season, so who am I to complain? The Dixon siblings get a pair of golden tickets in the most obvious drummed up moment of S11 so far.

Lauren Mink, 25, Country Strong – Did we just see two likely Top 10 candidates in a row? It could happen, especially based on Lauren Mink’s sweet-sounding country voice that matches her overall charm and cuteness. Lauren lands a ticket.

-Ashlee Altese, 28, Come Together — Ashlee Altese will either be the next Rihanna (actual megastar) or the next Naima (AI S10 castoff). It really can go either way, but if she avoids doing reggae covers of Elton John songs, she just might stick. Steven’s in love and Ashlee moves on.

Programming Note: If you like reading what I have to say here,  perhaps you’ll also like hearing all of my Idol Thoughts as well. Check out the S’mores American Idol Radio Show, available right here, right now on the web (at www.smoresradioshow.com) and also  through iTunes. New episodes are posted weekly all Idol season long, and we’d love to have you join in on the fun along with our thousands of listeners!

W.T. Thompson, 25 — Wow, when was the last time Steven Tyler said NO to anyone in any situation, let alone on Idol? All kidding aside, I am right in line with Tyler on this one, and I disagree completely with J-Lo and Randy taking a chance on W.T. here. Randy even said he’s going to get “eaten alive” before saying yes, and I think that is exactly what will happen in Hollywood. W.T. sneaks in.

Note on the Judges: The judges definitely seem very relaxed this season, and why wouldn’t they with one year together under their belts and a few more millions of dollars in their coffers? Although, here’s an interesting question: Can you remember the last time American Idol had the same exact judge’s panel for two consecutive years? Neither can I.

–Erica Nowak, 28, Super Duper Love — Every year on Idol, there’s an older, grittier-than-most-other-contestants WOMAN that offers up a half-quirky, totally whacked out audition. And every year, I question my faith in omnipresence as a result. NO DICE, home slice.

Brittany Kerr, 24, Spoiled — Let the innuendo commence as the judges tell gorgeous NBA dancer Brittany that she needs to “get it out” more, whatever that means. J-Lo says no but the guys unsurprisingly say yes, and I’m very indifferent about the whole thing.

We’ll have to do it in a MONTAGE! That may work for the Muppets, but I never remember anyone who is shown for a few seconds in these early season “we like you but you’re not interesting enough for producers to actually feature” audition segments. Fun fact: Season 8 winner Kris Allen was one of those  people.

Phillip Phillips, 20, Superstitious / Thriller — For obvious reasons, I can only hope Phillip Phillips’ middle name is Wilson. With that obligatory reference out of the way, Phillip definitely demonstrated he is way more than the laziest-named contestants in American Idol history.  Hell, this WGWG (white guy with guitar) has all of the typical standout Idol ingredients it takes to win this thing.  When was the last time they ended a show with anything but a yes?

That’s it from me — CB.

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