For a lot of people, the American Idol audition rounds are all about the point-and-hoot spectacle of watching deranged, deluded “singers” committing treacherous acts against the beloved songbooks of Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, and a host of other musical superstars. Yet while I’m not immune to occasionally chuckling at said catastrophes, I get far more enjoyment from the good auditions, from experiencing the sudden and unexpected chills that come from seeing a nervous, heretofore anonymous kid floor a panel of judges (and 25 million viewers) with his or her vocal prowess.
Thanks to the wonders of YouTube, I occasionally find myself journeying back to previous seasons to relive the best Idol tryouts. And with season 10 only a few hours away from kickoff, I thought I’d share three of my old favorites with you. Check ’em out below, then head down to the comments to nominate the Idol auditions that still give you the warm fuzzies/cool tinglies/urge to reach for a Kleenex to mop up a sudden flood of tears.
Melinda Doolittle, “For Once in My Life” (Season 6) | In a performance that lasts less than a minute, a timid backup singer begins to blossom into a triumphant frontwoman. Watch. Gasp. Repeat.
Briana Davis, “The Phantom of the Opera” (Season 4) | Girl enters room dressed like an extra from Beetlejuice, and audience braces for another annoying Idol “joke.” But the crazy soprano sounds that emanate from her mouth turn out to be positively haunting — and hauntingly beautiful. Where is she now?!
Jermaine Purifoy (changed to Purifory in future episodes), “Smile” (Season 9) | Somehow, the judges didn’t advance this guy — with his buttery vocals, good looks, and easygoing demeanor — to the top 24, but found room for Jermaine Sellers, John Park, Aaron Kelly, Todrick Hall, and Andrew Garcia? Oh what might have been!