As I drove home in the snow and freezing rain tonight, trying not to get run over by a 4/4 with a death wish, the only silver lining that I could think of was “at least I don’t have to mow my #$%@ing lawn.”

Oh, and tonight begins the annual cattle action that we all know and love as AMERICAN IDOL!!!! Season eleven, start your engines…..

First off, I have some information that won’t allow me to handicap the audition shows like I have in the past. I have a list that includes 32 of the top 42, and another list of eliminated contestants from the top 60. They aren’t complete, and it’s possible that they aren’t even true, but since I looked at them I have to come clean and tell you that I might have some inside information. Because I have that info, I won’t speculate as much as I normally would.

The contestants:

David Leathers Jr., 17– He looks like he’s 12, and while his speaking voice is deep his singing voice is childlike. He’s dynamic and full of personality, but his intonation and phrasing are pretty green. Is he this year’s Jacee Badeaux?

Gabi Carrubba, 16– Apparently she saw Lauren kiss everyone’s butts last year, so she went right after Nigel to curry some favor. I like her tone, but she was a little bit shouty at times.

Some quick auditions:

Brianna Faulk, 15– Green as hell, but some vocal power

Neco Starr, 20-Intonation sucked, but strong voice

Molly Hunt, 15– Cute, decent voice, but green

Elise Testone, 28– Finally, someone who can drink legally. She reminds me of Amanda Overmeyer, who made the finals in season 7. She isn’t a better singer than Amanda based on what I heard, but she might have a more viewer friendly personality.

Ryan Seacrest, 26– Actually his name is Shaun Kraisman. He sings fine for karaoke, but he ain’t the next American Idol. Rejected.

Shannon Magrane, 15- She has plenty of style and a powerful voice. She is also, like most of the early auditioners, green and inconsistent with her intonation. She shouts at the top end a little. I’m not sold yet, but she has a howitzer. That’s a good start. Her Dad was a pretty good major league pitcher who became an even better baseball analyst after he was forced to retire due to injuries while he was still fairly young. He was there with his kid at the audition.

Amy Brumfield, 24– Nice stylings and nice story, but probably not enough voice. She sings from her throat, very tight. I wouldn’t want to live in a tent, but their “yard” is beautiful.

The nutcase (didn’t get his name) wasn’t all that bad of a singer, was he? There was no way that they could let him go toHollywood, though. He might have taken the whole cast out in a machete rampage.

Stephanie Renae, 15- I love her voice, but she needs some experience to learn how to harness it. She does the “head voice” thing when she moves up, though once she gets set she blasts the high notes well. Her phrasing won’t hold up under tempo or complicated rhythms yet. I don’t imagine she is a contender this year, but she might be one to watch for in a couple of years. She sounds a lot like Lauren Alaina and she has even more power, but she is way too raw.

Schyler Dixon, 16-Colton’s younger sister made it toHollywood last year, but she was eliminated right away. She is still really young and green, but I like her phrasing. She has a weird way of twisting words that I always like. I don’t know if her voice is strong enough, but she ain’t (7)

Colton Dixon, 19– Yeah, right. They pretended he wasn’t going to audition for the show, and he played along like a champ. Hell, it might have been true. I won’t “pretend” that he didn’t make the final 42 because I believe he is a virtual lock for the semifinals. He ain’t Lee Dwyze with the tree trunk tone, or Adam Lambert with the crazy range, but he has a ton of style and emotion in his voice to go with good (not great) power, tone and range. He has a shot at the tour this time. He almost made the semis last year at 18 years old, and now he is a year more experienced with that extra level of angst under his belt. We will see him later.

Lauren Mink, 25– She has a lot going for her besides a good voice and very good phrasing, and I noticed while I was looking up where she finished that I don’t have full listings for everyone. Lauren might have made it, or she might not have. I don’t know. My guess is that she came up a bit short, because her intonation was sloppy as hell at times and her voice, while pleasant, wasn’t exactly amazing. Her falsetto was (Simon voice) terrible, though I liked how she blew out her high notes. She is very likable, in a Girl Next Door way. She rocks her freckles well.

*African guy sings country, just the wrong country….*

Ashlee Altise, 28– This year’s Tatiana, or thatJerseyShore girl from last season, what was her name? I actually like her when she isn’t preening and mugging for the cameras; she has a decent voice, but I won’t pretend she is on any final 42 lists.

WT Thompson, 25– Pity ticket. The poster boy for “don’t quit your day job” got a break, because Idol is much nicer than the rest of the entertainment industry.

th (5)Brittany Kerr, 24– NBA cheerleader. She th (4)has Carrie Underwood’s face, Pia Toscano’s body, Chrystal Bowersox’s vibrato and Didi Benami’s weird phrasing. Unfortunately, she also has Marylin Monroe’s vocal power and Julie Zorilla’s range. She would be terrific singing “happy birthday” to Obama, but she ain’t gonna be the next American Idol. If only she had Pia’s vocal power, Carrie’s range, Chrystal’s phrasing…..

Phillip Phillips, 20– The “Thanks Mom and Dad for getting me beat up a lot in grade school” named contestant got the pimp spot, so we know he’s going deep. Yes, he’s on the final 42 list. I don’t care for his voice much, but I love his style. To me the obvious comp would be Casey Abrams from last year, but instead of a tenor voice and manic craziness he has a fairly weak scratchy baritone voice, but a more pure rhythmic musicality. Casey was an amazing instrumentalist on several instruments. My guess is that Phil Squared (I’ll just call him Phil-Phil from now on) can play some other instruments, but he is more of a pure guitar player. Hell, he might just be the new Casey James. Hmm… maybe he’s the test tube love child of the two Caseys?

If he had even a decent voice I would call him a live show lock, but he won’t be one of the hundred best singers in Hollywood. Neither Casey was, either, and they finished sixth and third respectively. Expect him to be a star during theHollywoodshows with his guitar, but he can’t sing well enough to win the whole thing. Can he?


Five of the contestants tonight are listed in the 32 out of the top 42. I won’t tell you which ones (other than Colton and Phil-Phil, who were obvious), and there could be a few more since I only have partial lists. Honestly I didn’t hear anyone tonight that I expect to see in the final 4, but it’s hard to project that far forward. If I were ranking them I would probably rank Colton first, but there is one other I might rank higher. I can’t name this person because that would be giving away the spoiler.

(Added Later): It was Phil-Phil, who was practically given the season 11 title on the spoiler site right before the shows started airing.

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