“American Idol” 2011 took Milwaukee by storm as the city played host to auditions for the mega hit reality singing show for the very first time. Here’s a glance at some of the hopefuls who impressed “Idol” judges Jennifer Lopez, Steven Tyler and Randy Jackson enough to earn coveted golden tickets to Hollywood.
* Scott McCreary, 16. The “All-American kid” auditioned with “Your Man” by Josh Turner and impressed the judges with his uber deep voice. The song was an extremely good choice when it came to putting his vocal quality on display. J. Lo gushed “you make me smile,” while Randy called him a country “throwback” with Randy Travis pipes.
* Emma Henry, 15. The bleach-blonde youngster delivered a gritty, shaky rendition of Cyndi Laupers “True Colors” Cyndi Lauper that wasn’t perfect, buy showed promise. In theory. Steven appreciated her “character” and gave a yes but J. Lo was quick with her own no. Randy worried that the American Idol 2011 competition would “swallow her up,” but after a long pause (and some tears from the hopeful), he relented with a yes.
* Naima Adepapo, 25. The Summerfest janitor’s pre-audition pack delivered the usual tearful “I want a better life for my children” sauce, and lucky for her, she can really sing. Naima presented a soulful, smooth rendition of Don Hathaway’s “For All We Know.” J. Lo deemed her one of the best yet and Randy gave an enthusiastic “one-hundred percent yes.”
* Jerome Bell, 27. The New York resident delivered a version of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On” that’s best described as an explosion of vocal motion. And the judges loved it.
* Thia Megia, 15. The teenager with the unique rhyming moniker sang “Chasing Pavement” and impressed me with her sound: An older, more mature tone than her age alone led me to expect. J. Lo called her “the total package” and she earned the yes trifecta.
* Monica DeWolf Swensen, 22. Because being a recent graduate of Harvard and a White House intern for the Obama Administration aren’t enough, the blonde Washington native has a smokin’ sound. The chick Randy smacked in the face showcased her sultry, sexy voice with “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay.”
* Haley Reinhart. The “Idol” second-timer sang “Oh Darling” on her way to earning praise for improvement over last season from Randy and yesses from the whole panel.
* Tiwan Strong, 29. The Chicagoan Twisted the Night into a Golden Ticket.
* Steve ‘Big Goon’ Beghun. Steven called the big accountant’s audition “disturbingly great” on the way to sending him to Hollywood.
* Scott Dangerfield, 22. I had low expectations from the nerdy, bespectacled, shorts-wearing, shaggy haired guy. But he blew me out of the water with his voice. J. Lo asserted that he might be her favorite so far, and his performance prompted Randy to proclaim “never judge a book by its cover!”
* Alyson Jados. The rock n roll loving chick was pleased as punch to meet her personal idol in Steven, and he probably made her life by giving her a hug and telling her that she looked like one of his “… friends”. She sang a gritty version of The Beatles’ “Come Together” followed by part of Aerosmith’s “Dream On” that ellicited a no from Randy, but yesses from J. Lo and Steven.
* Chris Medina, 26. The night’s “guy you have to root for” story left me sniffling and hoping that he could really sing. His pre-audition segment revealed that shortly before their wedding, Medina’s fiancee Juliana was involved in an accident that left her with a traumatic brain injury. Rather than bailing, he stuck around to help her mother care for her, asserting “what kind of guy would I be if I walked out on her when she needed me the most?”. And thankfully, he can indeed sing, and offered up a solid rendition of “Break Even by The Script moments before wheeling Juliana in to meet the judges.
So that’s it for the best of the “American Idol” 2011 auditions in Milwaukee. Will any of these hopefuls survive Hollywood and make the final cut? Keep watching to find out.