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Freelance entertainment writer, martial arts instructor, and mother of two.

American Idol 11, Jan. 18 – “One of the Best Starts We’ve Had”

Shannon Magrane, 15, of Tampa, is six feet tall, and her dad is Joe Magrane from the St. Louis Cardinals. She runs out to get him to bring him in to meet the judges, but brings in her mom and sisters as well. Steven tells him he’s “hot, humid, and happenin’, just like your daughter.” She sings Something’s Got a Hold On Me, and her mom jams along with her while she sings. She has some definite soul, that doesn’t look like it should be residing in that tall, pretty, blonde.

Randy says they were vibing and rolling with that one, then addresses Shannon’s mom, and notes how she was singing along with her mouthing the words in the back. She notes she can’t sing and has to turn it down, as it “ricochets throughout the house.” Randy thinks she was cool doing this alongside her family and friends and must have nerves of steel. Steven thinks it’s great as well, and that it’s like the words just have to come out. It’s three yeses, and she’s through. Before they leave, Randy asks Joe to come help out the Dodgers, which he doesn’t think could happen soon enough.

It’s a montage of good-looking people who can’t sing. Steven ends up blowing one of them a raspberry it’s so bad. This brings in Amy Brumfield, 24, of Gailinburg, TN, who is blinged out, yet admits she lives in a tent in the woods. She can’t afford to live anywhere else. She lives with a boyfriend, and they have a nice little setup. They are missing a bathroom though. They work hard trying to get out of the tent. She would rather be outdoors and happy than inside and miserable. Her boyfriend’s mom set her up with the dress and bling today for the audition.

Amy sings Super Woman, and unlike the montage that introduced her, she can sing. I’m not sure she’s the best I’ve ever heard, but there’s something really interesting about her. Randy sees something similar, telling her she has an interesting tone, with a forceness and roughness. It’s disparaging to Steven that children of the woods snuck in there, but he likes that. She gets three yeses and is through. She’ll get to at least live in a hotel for a few days when she’s in Hollywood.

Joshua Chavis, 23, of Canden, SC, has had this dream ever since he can remember. His biggest dream is to sing the national anthem at a NASCAR race for his mama. His friends encourage him. He’s going to leave his nerves at the door with his boyfriend and believes the judges are going to love him. he thinks he has the American Idol thing in the bag. He screams and kicks stuff on his way in. He believes he has a country/pop/rock voice like a Chris Daughtry/Brian Paisley. He’s not leaving the stage without a ticket.

Jason sings I’m Yours, and is more karaoke than anything else. It’s really not a good song to audition with, though, unless you’re Jason Mraz. Randy wonders if they should hear another one, but no one seems to want that. Jennifer tells Jason he is sweet and cute, but she doesn’t know if the voice is really up to par with what they’re doing. Steven agrees, and Randy tells him singing at birthday parties and in bars is good, but here? No. There’s something about him, when he gets the rejection and sinks within himself, that reminds me of Stefan from SNL. He then takes his anger out on the cameras that follow him. Ryan compares it to a hissy fit.

Stephanie Renae, 15, of Orange Park, FL, is stressing out, saying she’s never done something this big before. When she was 8, she watched American Idol all the time. Her favorite is Carrie Underwood. She thinks it’s every girl’s dream to be on this show. She’s shocked to really be living out what she sees on TV. Stephanie sings a Carrie Underwood song, Inside Your Heaven, and is very pleasant.

Jennifer tells Stephanie she has a very naturally beautiful vibrato. She loved when she opened up, although she sings a little nasally. Stephanie appreciates that, as she’s always wanted to ask them what she could do to improve. Jennifer wants her to open her mouth more, and Randy wants her to get vocal lessons. Steven wants her to work on inflection. While he says yes, Randy say no. It’s up to Jennifer. She says yes.

Schyler Dixon, 16, from Murfreesboro, IN, auditioned with her brother last year, and she kind of leaned on him a little too much. She’s the one who got him to audition last year, and they both made it to Hollywood, but this year he’s taking a back seat to let her kind of do her thing. He’s not auditioning this time. The judges tell her to bring her brother in anyway. They give him a hard time, since they both made it to Hollywood last time. They beg him to do it and basically don’t give him a choice. She sings Breakeven, and is pretty good.

Now it’s 19-year-old brother Colton’s turn. He’s coaxed into it. He sings Permanent and seems to have a more natural song in him than she does. Schyler seems disappointed that he did so well. Steven tells Colton he knows how he feels about his voice, and he thinks Schyler has come up a few notches. Jennifer thinks Schyler needs to keep working, and that Colton is amazing. Randy thinks both of them have grown, which Jennifer thinks is on behalf of pain. Steven wants them both in, as do the other judges. Colton gets a hug from the judges, and Schyler still looks disappointed. I think even she knows who the better singer is.

Lauren Mink, 25, of Winchester, KY, is the director of a program for adults with disabilities. She admits she gets to play every day for a job. She tries to incorporate some music into it and they do choir for the fundraisers. She thinks the joy of these people brings joy to others. She sings Country Strong and gives J-Lo goosebumps. Steven liked the passion behind the notes, and Jennifer found she opened up and found her confidence, growling at them. Randy compares her to Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland, and she admits that’s her favorite band. Three easy yeses. When she celebrates with who must be her mom, her dress rides up, but her mom yanks it down for her. My mom would do the same.

On day two, a hot one in Savannah, the first one up is Mawuena Kodjo, 25, a team leader at Food Co. from Nashville. He’s originally from Togo, West Africa. He’s going to sing some Rascal Flatts, which doesn’t seem to fit. He thinks he can sing both high and low, and seems to compare himself to Scotty McCreery. He promises to blow the judges away with I Won’t Let Go. He’s right that he sings both high and low, but sometimes it’s within the same note. It’s probably the worst audition we’ve seen so far in Savannah, which is too bad, because he seems like a cool guy.

Steven tells Mawuena, “You’ve got confidence, but you ain’t got song.” He found him pitchy and way off, but he threw the ball. Jennifer found it a little bit all over the place, and Randy tells him it was really terrible and bad. He suggests he find some people that think he is a good singer and come back and prove him wrong.

Ryan takes him around town to find some people to stand up for him. An elderly man instead believes he’s more of a runner. A group of young girls say they will stand up for him. Ryan brings in the girls and the elderly man. Randy still gives him a no, and Steven tells the little girls to have mommy wash the wax out of their ears. Mawuena promises to prove them wrong next year. But the funniest thing is Mawuena, the little girls, and the elderly man posing together with a graphic around them that says, “Greetings from Savannah.”

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