5 Things to Expect from ‘American Idol’s Season 11 Auditions

Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson on American Idol (FOX)

Hello fellow “American Idol” fans! I’m Sharyn and I’ll be your guide this season as our nation collectively scouts for the next aspiring pop star to butcher “Hallelujah” and Heart’s “Alone.”

I’ve covered “Idol” in the past for the Village Voice in New York, and I’m a freelance arts and culture reporter for publications like the Voice, Time Out New York, the Star-Ledger and now I’m delighted to cover it for xfinityTV.com.

You could say I have a love-hate relationship with “Idol.” I’m a TV junkie who won’t miss an episode of a reality music competition, but often regret the number of hours I spend watching them. Let’s face facts–“Idol” is fun and addictive, but it’s also unabashedly cheesy and unrestrainedly conservative. I ask myself: Wouldn’t four hours a week be better served working toward world peace or something?

PHOTOS: “American Idol” Then & Now

Still I watch. And as we head into Season 11, I’m more excited than ever, thanks to “Idol’s” competitors. NBC’s “The Voice” is much more progressive, demographics-wise. Fox’s “The X Factor” has Simon Cowell, the man who made “Idol” great. And yet both shows pale in comparison to the original gold standard because neither has been able to achieve the kind of intimacy “Idol” does between its contestants and its viewers. And let’s face it, “Idol” is still the big dog, with a big history.

Don’t get me wrong–the most watched television show is still a corporate, Coke-pushing,  cash cow, but it also has heart that maybe just comes with the territory that it first staked–making nobodies somebodies.

And that’s where I’ll be coming from as we start Season 11. I’ll be looking for those “moments” contestants have every once in a while that still give me goosebumps years later, like Jennifer Hudson slaying a Barry Manilow snoozer way back in Season 3, David Cook popping out of his shell on “Billie Jean” in Season 7, and last year’s Haley Reinhart defining herself thrillingly on “Bennie and the Jets.”

I’ll also be keeping tabs on the judges, especially Steven Tyler’s naughty mouth (and flirty butt: see below), and on Ryan Seacrest’s many fun – and occasionally awkward – exchanges.

I look forward to sharing my opinions with all the other fans out there, and hope we can have some fun and insightful conversations along the way. So, without further delay, let’s get started!

I got an early look at some of the auditions, and based on first impressions, here are five things to expect when the season premiere kicks off with auditions tonight in Savannah, Georgia and tomorrow in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

1. It pays to be in high school: Some of the strongest contenders previewed are still in their teen years, and their cheek-pinching sweetness and (seeming) purity wins them over with the judges.

2. Steven Tyler makes a bunch of those (female) high-schoolers swoon: The judge may make hearts of all ages go pitter patter, but some of the younger auditioners win his affections in return—leading one young lady to help herself to his posterior nether regions, something that will be the highlight of her diary for decades to come.

3. One of Scotty McCreery’s old foes tries to earn his piece of stardom: The winner of a 2009 North Carolina talent show comes out to reclaim his superiority over the goofy country heartthrob winner from Season 9.

4. Judges once again declare that they have found the “new Michael”: They did it with Rachel Crow on “The X Factor,” they did it on “Idol” last year with, strangely, Thia Megia. In fact, since Michael Jackson’s death in 2009, reality music competition judges are perennially on the lookout for his replacement. But this year, maybe they’ll find him.

5. New audition idea: ’90s TV theme songs: In a genius audition, a foot-stomping jazz take on “As Days Go By,” the theme song to ’90s TGIF show “Family Matters” had us wondering why no one has ever done this before. Here’s hoping to a follow-up in Hollywood with the opener to “Full House.”


Go Behind The Scenes Of The “American Idol” Promo Shoot:

[iframe http://xfinitytv.comcast.net/tv/American-Idol/3329/2170805211/American-Idol-Photo-Shoot/embed 580 476]

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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