American Idol: Who's Your Favorite Hopeful From the Pittsburgh Auditions?

I’m not sure what program aired at 8/7c during Fox’s Thursday-night lineup, but I’m almost certain it wasn’t American Idol. Not a single foreign accent was ridiculed. The overweight, the fey, and the mentally unstable came out unscathed. And no mind was paid to imbeciles in Statue of Liberty garb or other heinous costumes, desperate for the chance to alert their Facebook “friends” that they were finally getting their 15 minutes.

Nope, American Idol‘s action-packed Pittsburgh auditions focused on talent, talent, and more talent, with 11 Golden Ticket recipients getting spotlighted in the course of a single hour. In other words, Uncle Nigel has reached the prayer-answering phase of his reign over the Idolspehere. Hell, even Shane Bruce (pictured), the sole unsuccessful auditioner who scored significant airtime, had a reasonably good singing voice.

In particular, I enjoyed The Girl With the Planking Sister, The Boy Who Doesn’t Really Look Like Justin Bieber, and Chica in the Pimp Spot. (Let’s not hold it against her that three hours into Season 11, producers have already chosen to air J.Lo’s “She could win!” — and will probably do so 47 times between now and early May.)

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 Pittsburgh 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. Liked Erika Van Pelt a lot. I think her age which is 25 and her experience as a wedding singer has really helped her vocal range and ability. No offense to the 15 and 16 year olds but experience does add a certain element to a person’s voice. I also liked 28 year old Creighton. He surprised me, and so did Heejun. Definitely wrote Heejun off in the way they edited his clip package and the way he interacted with Ryan and the judges, but he was actually really good. This show actually was good tonight. I think the 1 hour show is by far superior to 2 hours of the same thing. 1 hour does the job and makes it very tolerable.

    • nodak says:

      I agree about the 1 hour being better. I also agree with liking Erika Van Pelt. It was so pleasant listening to someone with some confidence and maturity. Many of those 15-17-year-olds are a ball of nerves with a good voice.

  2. Pat says:

    Aaron Sanders is back! He should’ve made it last year. Why is his last name Marcellus now? Is that his middle name?

    He, Heejun, Reed, and Erika I liked the most. Hallie’s voice was too tinny.

  3. Marta says:

    Yes!! Aaron Sanders! I recognized him right away (even with the name change). Seems to have worked on his image. I’m rooting for him. (“Got To Get You Into My Life” by Aaron, Jordan Dorsey, and Robbie Rosen was one of my favs from the Beatles episode last season…)

  4. marie says:

    Ratings drop, shmatings drop! I for one totally agree with Slezak: let’s all send positive reinforcement vibes to Uncle Nigel to continue accentuating the positive! I can live without the gratuitous nastiness of audition shows past very well, thank you.

  5. Marcie says:

    I haven’t actually seen Idol, since I’m on the west coast, but I just had to vote for Erica van Pelt for her name alone.

  6. MichelleR says:

    I loved when Jennifer astutely pointed out that the coal miner kid was disappointed.

  7. Toto says:

    Since the current opinion seems to be that Nigel is not as stubborn as previously stated, I respectfully request that he change the (%@&%*$ voting policy.

  8. Tay says:

    Sad that Travis’s mom walked out. I bet she’s sorry right now.

  9. Brandy says:

    Travis Orlando! Was so pleasantly surprised to see my favorite from last year back and improved. I feel like he’s a shoe-in for the top 12 if he makes it through.

  10. Joel says:

    What happend to all the funny auditions?? Hello this is what makes American idol so great!! It gives you a break from the perfect auditions! It makes you appreciate a beautiful voice! It gives you a laugh in between all the seriousness!! I’m actually disappointed in the fact they took the funnies out! So sad, they will probably loose some fans over this! Now there’s no point in watching it untill contestants make it to Hollywood! Come on idol give us some laughs!!

    • tarc says:

      Hopefully, all the ‘funny’ auditions went away permanently. They’re a waste of time, and a great reason to DVR the show – to rapid skip that junk. Just give us a straight up review of the best audtions – no junk, no fools, no crazies, and no ‘funny’ please.

    • Miguel says:

      The thing about those “laughs” is that the contestants have gone through two screenings before they appear in front of the judges. So up to that point they have been led to believe they have talent and a real shot at going to Hollywood. That’s just cruel.

      The Voice made a point of saying they would never treat aspiring contestants like that, so that may have influenced Idol’s actions.

    • chistosa says:

      I disagree “one million percent” to borrow a phrase from Randy. I did not watch the program on Wed. because I have always hated the audiion shows. They go out of their way to ridicule and humiliate people. When I read the re-caps that indicated that the show did not do that but focused on those who we may actually see again, I watcheD last night. I was so pleased to see that they are not highlighting the crazy people.

  11. Lindsay says:

    My ears thank Nigel. It was actually quite an enjoyable hour. My fave was definitely HeeJun, but also liking Hallie Day (who reminds me of a young Kim Basinger?) and reluctantly impressed with Eben even though I think he would be awesome if just given a few more years and at least a high school diploma. Speaking of diplomas, totally pulling for the success of Travis!

    • Toto says:

      Maybe it was just me, but I saw a bit of an Elvis smile on HeeJun. Not that he sounded or looked like him, just the smile.

  12. Lindsay says:

    Oh! Forgot about the wedding singer! Erika is my close second favorite. Love her and her voice.

  13. Pat says:


    The sad, delusional people with the awful voices stopped being funny years ago. It’s time for the show to either become a novelty or get serious about their contestants’ viability in today’s music market.

  14. Rick says:

    This was the best audition episode I remember! I am so happy they did not show any of that stupid crap, like pants on the floor. I do not like the 15 year old’s! They are not vocally developed enough, they have no business passing them on but it’s all about the teeny bopper ratings. It’s rare to even hear a 17 year old that is good enough, there are exceptions like Katy Stevens, Jordan Sparks etc. but I have not seen one yet so far.

  15. Miranda says:

    Only 3 girls were featured tonight. I wonder if that’s a record low?

  16. ejones says:

    Quote from the TV listings of my newspaper here in the UK. ‘Super slick RS presides over season 11 etc…. OK, so no one can really remember who won the last series and why, but the standard of performances in the live shows puts UK efforts to shame.’ She sums it up pretty well, especially the ‘why’.

  17. Sg.Grant says:

    Reed Grimm had the best voice of the night.

  18. meagain says:

    Are we who have avoided it so far to take it that they actually did change it up and that Nigel learned and is not plotting have the bruja and the dog eviscerate and then cook in a kettle, the best contestant even if they were not part of the original genius plan?

    Or is it still more along the lines of (pretending we are into two performances a night stage):
    To the best singer of the night on the second go and 3rd best on the first go:
    “Uhh uhh I don’t know. I don’t get it. I just don’t think you are in it to win, where is the consistency? Why do you not have two best performances every night? I don’t know. I don’t get it. I mean your other song was only 3rd best of the night! I just don’t see the consistency here. Now look to your left, the 6th best performance every time! Yeah dawg! Now THAT is what I’m talking about! THAT contestant knows who they are! They are sixth best and that is why THEY are…. IN IT TO WIN IT!!!!! But I don’t get it 3d best performance to start and then you come out and sing the best for the second round? WHy not third best again? Where is the consistency. Sorry, too uneven to be in it to win it! And where were the runs on that line about the baby seals getting clubbed? I don’t get it.”

    I finally became too disgusted last year and said I would stop after you know who got tossed AND finally run over by the bus and I’ve kept to my word. But not fair to ding your ratings so reading on here….

  19. R says:

    Loved Erika and Heejun.

  20. Marsaili says:

    Wow, it was a great show tonight! I am SO glad they aren’t showing all the crap auditions—I bet, somewhere down the line, they will do a montage of the worst auditions—but I so appreciate Nigel listening to us and concentrating on the real auditions. That way, when we get to Hollywood week, there will be more faces we actually recognize! I have to say, everyone tonight was really good, not a dud in the bunch. My favorites were Hallie and Travis.

  21. Rebecca says:

    My favorite was Reed Grimm, but I also loved Erika Van Pelt and Hallie Day. It was nice to see a whole episode where no questionable tickets to Hollywood were given, even if I didn’t care for every single contestant who made it.

  22. Dani C says:

    I wasn’t really all that impressed tonight…I think last night had the better auditions. I did like Grimm, Han, and Van Pelt ( and not just b/c their last names rule). Wasn’t digging the Bieber look a like and I didn’t like Hallie Day either….didn’t hear what the judges did….he needs his voice to drop and she needs to stop yelling at me. Hoping uncle Nigel sticks with the new game plan and gives us more of the good and less of the bad!

  23. Rebecca says:

    Forgot to mention Travis, I’m so glad he came back and made it to Hollywood. I really don’t like how Idol shows “sob stories,” but can’t help but feel sorry for him after hearing his. He does have room for improvement, but I really like his voice and hope he makes it.

  24. Gorm says:

    I’ve called uncle Nigel a tasteless oprotunistic cretinous bottom-feeting sniveling spineless cynical foul smelling and vulgar stain upon the face of television before, I have indeed called him that before. But tonight he managed to turn out a decent episode of a television show. The focus was on the singers, we had enough time with them to get some of their personality and everything was handled with the dignity it deserved. If he keeps it up for the next few weeks, word of mouth will carry the message that that Idol, not the Gong Show, is back and ratings may return to where they used to be.

    Congradulations Nige, and lets hope the promise of a positive change last beyond Sunday evening.

  25. PatD says:

    Very pleased that Nigel finally got it about the crap auditions, but I didn’t see anything last night that excited me.

  26. Kathi says:

    It would have been nice to see someone from PITTSBURGH in the auditions doing their thing!!!!

  27. ryan says:

    What is going on with this show? Not only do we have to deal with lame judges now but they took away the best part of the show. The rediculous wana-be’s, the horrible voices and rediculous costumes we love to hate. GONE GONE GONE! Yet another reason they have lost another fan.

  28. Shelby says:

    Ummmmmmmmmmm I personally think that Shane Bruce should have went to Hollywood but no 2 people had to say NO but I dont care because im talking to him now (: how ya’ll like dem apples lol But anyways yeah like I said he sould have went I dont care what anybody else thinks.(: I love Me Some American Idol !! I also think that american idol is a wonderful thing for people to experiance because it may start some peoples carrer. American idol is amazing, im in love with it (:

  29. shelby polen says:

    American Idol is amazing i kno i already said it but imma go on there and blow the judges away lol and some of the people that they didnt send to Hollywood should have went and a couple of people that did go to Hollywood i personally think that they shouldnt have (:
    Find me on Facebook my name is Shelby Polen
    <3 Shelby Polen