American Idol Season 11 Premiere: Who's Your Favorite Hopeful From the Savannah Auditions?

Good things come to those who wait (for 11 seasons). Indeed, it might finally be time to put an end to the annual kvetching by the Idoloonie nation that American Idol‘s audition rounds deliver too many jokesters, deludeds, and all-purpose waking nightmares — and not enough truly talented vocalists.

In the course of Wednesday night’s season premiere, we were treated to the sweet sounds of 16 Golden Ticket recipients — quite possibly a record for a two-hour episode. There was a supremely divalicious songbird who came with her own patented dance (is America ready for that jelly?); an acoustic cutie whose “Thriller” was a 1,000-lb. anvil obliterating any wistful longing for Andrew Garcia’s “Straight Up”; a sweet, soulful soul with a “lives in a tent” backstory that managed to touch even this hardened Idol cynic; a brother-sister duo that prompted the show’s producers to scrape the editing room floor for any signs of sibling rivalry; and a kid who allegedly/fairly recently wiped the floor with Season 10 champ Scotty McCreery in a local singing competition.

While I work on a full episode recap that will post Thursday morning here at TVLine, I’ll turn things over to you: Who was your favorite from the Savannah auditions? Sound off in the comments section, and for all my Idol news, interviews, and recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Bernadine says:

    Phillip Phillips is awesome

    • Andrea says:

      He’s talented, but it sounded like he had more than one voice :/ Not feelin’ it right now, but we’ll see what happens.

      I am quite tired of the build-up manipulation techniques the producers use for the end-of-show contestant who is “so great, we just won’t believe it!!!~~OMG~!!#%! [/RyanSecrestVoiceOver]

    • Tammy says:

      It was so obvious that he is a huge Dave Matthews fan. He sang like him, moved his feet like him, facial expressions like him. Not that I didn’t like Phillip, I did. But the judges are not DMB fans or they would have noticed it. It will be good to see if Phillip can be his own man in Hollywood.

    • SallyinChicago says:

      Nawh, he was another WGWG and if he makes it to the top 10, there are going to be a lot of po’d people. Idol needs to stop choosing the clones.
      I felt sorry for Schyler – Colton’s sister. She’s a good singer and they just fawned all over Colton. He didn’t want to audition and they forced him to.

    • dee123 says:

      Why the **** would you name your kid your last name.

    • nodak says:

      He played his guitar well, but I wasn’t a real fan of his voice.

  2. katherine says:

    There was also that whole thing with Mawuena Kodjo that might set a record for exploitative and borderline-racist Idol crap….

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      I fail to see how it was racist. It was, however, just plain silly and insulting to the audience, IMO.

      • mark says:

        It was so incredibly racist and Eurocentric. The captioning was one thing, but when they made fun of the way he said Scotty Mcreery was simple appalling.

    • Gorm says:

      Its heartening to see how little has changed in the British way of dealing with Africans since colonial times. Uncle Nigel was able to revive their proud tradition of gawking and harump-ing the natives.

      “Oh look at this fine specimen Mr. Cosgrove, he fancies himself a sing-song man, how exquisite!”

      What a disgusting television show, led by a disgusting man. It would be nice if he were called out on this sort of clumsy bottom of the barrel entertainment, wouldnt it be Slezak.

    • MichelleR says:

      Really think it was right up there with the most hard to watch “Isn’t-it-funny-to-mock-people-for-being different?” segments. They did seem to do less of it overall.

      And, this is the bestest byline for American Idol! Slezak!

  3. Phillip Phillips and Shannon Magrae are big contenders. From the guys crazy name to Shannon’s stroy about her baseball playing father, and they are good looking, it all adds up to good stuff, plus they sound great.
    -Phillip’s version of Thriller gives me high hopes that if he makes it to live rounds that he’ll switch things up and do some crazy good things.
    -Overall a decent episode tonight. After the loudness of X Factor it was nice just watching some quiet auditions and judges feedback. I’m sure by Week 3 I’ll be saying something differently, but for now it was a great start.

  4. kt says:

    Well, considering Phillip-Squared is a WGWG, I might as well hop on the bandwagon now, since he’ll probably take the whole shebang. That being said, I liked his Thriller, but not Superstition (I thought he strained his voice to much on that song…it’s better when he doesn’t push it as much.)

    I also like the Dixons. I thought Schuyler did better on tonight’s show, but I remember really liking Colton last season…they both could do well in Hollywood. Cuz we know they’ll be featured with that backstory…

    Anyways, can’t wait to see how this crop will do!

    • Grace says:

      Ugh, Phillip Phillips triggered a visceral hate/gag reflex in me the minute he arrived on the screen, and for that I blame Idol! He seems like a real sweet kid with a lot of talent, but if I have to sit through one more season where incredible talents get gradually picked off one by one so that the cute/bland white dude walks away with the prize…

      • Toto says:

        Well, you can thank Nigel for that, since he refuses to change the voting policy. As long as teens and tweens can vote their fingers off for the cute white guy, Idol will never be fair. So, the only thing we can do is support our favorites in their careers post Idol [see Adam Lambert, Jennifer Hudson etc.].

  5. musicteach210 says:

    My DVR didn’t record the first 15 minutes. Was the totally adorable Italian restaurant waiter with the fabulous voice on yet? I know I saw him on a promo and loved the 10 seconds of his voice.
    Of the ones I did catch tonight, I enjoyed seeing Colton again. Also, because I missed the beginning, I noticed an amazing young man with quite a voice (reminded me of little MJ) whose name I didn’t hear in the recap before Phillip squared sang, ironically, some MJ. What was that young man’s name? I thought he was the best of the singers I did hear, even though he may have been the youngest to make it through to Hollywood.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      There was a young black man named David Leathers from North Carolina (not sure what he did for a living, but he made it through and he was pretty good). That was probably the only audition in the first 15 minutes. The audition after him was Gabi Carrubba, who did a nice job on Maroon Five’s “Sunday Morning”.
      I think David Leathers might be the guy that reminds you of MJ.

      • Diane says:

        David Leathers was 17, and still in highschool. He was the kid who beat Scotty a few years back in a local talent show.

  6. Deb says:

    Liked Colton Dixon and Philips but I missed about 30 minutes at the beginning, so don’t know if there might have been other early favorites.

  7. Mallerie says:

    What I know for certain is that J Lo will do everything within her power to make sure the NBA dancer doesn’t make the first cut. That was some serious alpha female going on there.

    • darcy's evil twin says:

      Which one was the NBA dancer? Was it the attractive blonde that Randy and Steven said “yes” to but Jennifer said “no”?

      • Marsaili says:

        Yes, that was her. I thought she was good—but you just know that she’s gonna use those giant boobs for all she can!

    • SallyinChicago says:

      Ashlee = Fantasia 2.0….LOL

    • MichelleR says:

      The funny part was that immediately before she let through a guy with a much more questionable voice,saying, I think, that he had a unique voice and could learn. But the dancer wasn’t quite ready. :)

      Might have just been the edit and juxtaposition, it did come across as the J in J-Lo having nothing to do with “Jennifer.”

  8. darcy's evil twin says:

    Wow, welcome back Mr. Slezak and American Idoloonies!
    I have to say – I was not that fond of Colton Dixon last year and was surprised to see him back, but wow – I believe he’s improved. I agree with Mr. Slezak – there were more auditions, fewer train wrecks, and I think I spotted some potential.

    • Gorm says:

      I dont think Idoloonies is ever coming back. It’s critical and satirical content dosent look to be a fit with the look and feel of the production. I’d be delighted to be proven wrong, but i think its time to pour a little out for our dead homie.

  9. Annie says:

    David Leathers was amazing, but I think that looking like a 13 year old will hurt him.

    • B.Rich says:

      He blew me away

    • Gorm says:

      He looks 11, not 13. There is no trace of puberty in face or voice. Coupled with his creepy “ladies man” persona (what would he be equipped to “do” if he ever actually got a lady?) He wont go far in the competition, which is good, he should be at home getting testosterone therapy. But if his parents cant afford braces, they cant afford to correct his hormone deficiency.

      Poor Daivd Leathers Jr.

    • SallyinChicago says:

      Me too. Good voice, good personality, but too babylooking.

    • Louie says:

      Something tells me that he’ll have a Peter Brady moment during Hollywood. Puberty will be his downfall

  10. Samantha says:

    Yay Colton’s back! I loved him last yr and hated he got cut. I really hope he makes it this time.

    • Toto says:

      ITA. Factoid: He’s from the same city [Murfreesboro Tn] that gave us Chris Young who won Nashville Star several years ago and has a great career in country music now. Hope Colton does as well as Chris.

  11. Maria says:

    Phillips sucks sorry fangirls

  12. keeper_tere says:

    I really hope that Phillip Phillips makes it to the live rounds. It’ll be interesting how he’ll do.

  13. Tay says:

    Phillip Phillips is Awesome! If there was to be a MJ week he would take the cake.

  14. ts102 says:

    I’m interested to see what Phillip does, but he sounds to me like a Casey Abrams with less warmth and less range.

    Really excited to see Colton back and I think Lauren Mink was the best woman yet to be seen.

    Thank goodness they decided to get rid of the usual 1 and 1/2 hours of bad auditions and let us get to see the contenders earlier on.

  15. Sam M says:

    I wasn’t completely blown away by the show tonight but I think most of us can agree that it was a great way to start the season. I really enjoyed Phillip Phillips, will be interesting to see what he does. I also really liked the guy who sung Grenade and Lauren Mink, amongst others. I think it will only get better from here.

    On a side note, if you were ever a non believer of J Lo being jealous of female contestants, tonight should wash away all those doubts. The NBA dancer girl had a VERY nice voice, although Steven was right-she does need to project more. With that being said, I think she earned her ticket Hollywood, even if she does not make it far. It truly disgusted me to watch JLo say no to her, the girl is beautiful and has a nice voice, yet she turns her down solely on the basis of envy. Ridiculous.

    • Rick says:

      I agree about the dancer. I lol’d at Nigel crouching just out of sight of the cameras.

    • SallyinChicago says:

      For me, AI is like comfort food.

    • Musica1 says:

      I thought the NBA dancer had a very ordinary voice. She wasn’t a train wreck, but she wasn’t American Idol material either. She’s not as good as most people singing in their high school choirs today. American Idol is about finding those people with that something extra. She definitely didn’t deserve the golden ticket.

  16. brandy says:

    Loved those Dixon kids (especially Schyler)!

    • Saracen Riggins says:

      Agreed! I was surprised how much I liked Schlyer compared with Colton, whom I did like… but not as much as his sister.

  17. Miranda says:

    Schyler was better than Colton. It was annoying that the judges forced Colton to sing and that it took away her moment in the sun. :/

    • umbrella says:

      Schyler didn’t look too happy with her bro stealing the limelight or was it just the way it was edited?

    • Marsaili says:

      I felt bad for her—they really did blow her off and her moment. Stephen asks Colton for a hug and then tells Schyler that he’ll hug her when she wins?? What was that all about??? I think they really did her a disservice. Having said all that, I am hyped that Colton made it, I really liked him last year!

    • Gorm says:

      Colton was the one that sang his heart out and swung for the fences when she should have bunted. He outshone his sister, the Producers, and to a lesser extent, the Judges, just gave him enough rope to hang his sister.

  18. Name That Tune says:

    Without having watched the episode (and with no intention of doing it), lets just crown Phillips now and move on. Oh wait, weren’t singing the praises of Casey during audition rounds last year?

    • Steffi says:

      Casey was the clear favorite in auditions along with Paul McDonald. People were saying “Crown them already.” The same will happen to Phillip.

  19. Jan says:

    It’s become painfully clear that this show isn’t interested in appealing to any American who is not inbred.

  20. franv says:

    So good to see Colton back. The judges appeared to recognize the mistake they made last year, which gives me hope for the season I swore I wasn”t going to watch.

  21. Christina MONTEIRO says:

    Why because people give the judges a sad story they let them through when they have horrible voices?it only waste time and it makes people like me not take the judges seriously.wheres Simon?please bring him back!!!!

  22. dan says:

    David Leathers gave me an Astro vibe, but he’s really talented. I also like the Dixon kids, I thought both of them are great.

  23. Hannah says:

    Without more bad auditions, the show is BORING!

    • Gorm says:

      NO. We dont need more plants/deluded people for Idol to waste 5 minutes on each. We dont want that anymore. Take your gawking and easily amused tastes over to Americas Funnies Home Videos, I hear they blend wacky noises with people falling down. You should enjoy that, its more your speed.

      • Hannah says:

        YOU don’t want that, Gorm. Get rid of that “we” you’re trumpeting. BTW, the words “don’t,” “America’s” and “it’s should all have apostrophes. You also used two comma splices and misspelled “Funniest.” Why don’t you take your poorly educated self to remedial school? You should enjoy that; it’s more your speed.

  24. john t. says:

    is Colton and Phillip really the top two in this poll? i don’t want to live on the planet anymore.

    my votes went to David and Brittany, and i usually don’t root for guys who have nicknames like “mr. steal your girl.”

  25. Gloria says:

    He had an incredibly thick French accent indeed!

  26. raftrap says:

    I enjoyed Elise, everyone else was good, but, it was just that. I particularly disliked the first kid, I don’t know what it was about him, but it was personal.

  27. Krusty Lee Cooke says:

    I really enjoyed the auditions. That guy Paul McDonald who was briefly shown singing “Maggie May” and that Asian girl Thia who sang “Chasing Pavements” with a weird accent/intonation. I do not like the plump girl Lauren who kept on pandering to Steven Tyler.

  28. Ginnifer Lopes says:

    What was that foolishness with Colton Dixon pretending not to be auditioning and the judges pretending not to know he was there, ready with an audition song? Might I say that Colton sounded mediocre at best and did not deserve all that gushing from the judges. His overlooked sister is pretty and totally giving me a Xenia from The Voice vibe. Colton still had the pretentious hair and is quite possibly skinnier than ever. Those arms could make any anorexic proud.

  29. spunkybean says:

    I’m with you, MS …11 years in and I’m pushing 40, so I should be too old and too busy for this crap, but I can’t help it – Idol is the best. As are you and I can’t wait to hear watcha gotta say all sleazon long. See that? “season” plus “Slezak” = “sleazon.” Am I the cleverest Commenter? Or what? Welcome back, all.

  30. John Berggren says:

    So they finally let someone make mention of their being gay… and they got the buffoon edit. Awesome.

    I’m not saying that this particular contestant didn’t create his own ridiculous spectacle, but if this is their response to “The Voice” about their closeted ways, they’ve struck out bigtime.

  31. Sg.Grant says:

    Mr. Steal Your Girl sounded like he stole her voice.

  32. marie says:

    So glad the Idol season has started! Typing on tiny phone screen so will keep this short. Agree with Slezak – I appreciate the emphasis on talent vs. meanspirited denigration of the untalented. I think Colton may have real star potential – we’ll see. Yay! Idol is back to wash the foul taste of X Factor away!

  33. Musica1 says:

    Loved last night’s show! So many good singers on the first night really got me excited for the season!

  34. Volcfom says:

    There were only three or four voices I liked last night. One of which only got a short clip, so hopefully we’ll get to see more in Hollywood.

  35. Tim says:

    Oh God, please not another WGWG winner.

  36. Angel says:

    Loved Gabi, so sad she gets cut in Hollywood. :-(

  37. LauraHolt says:

    Phillip Phillips great guitarist but average voice. It’s sounds in authentic to my ears. I’m sure he’s sincere but it doesn’t sound legit to me.