'American Idol' Recap: Savannah Smiles With a Ryan Seacrest Double and Standout Phillip Phillips

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Jan. 19 2012, Published 2:30 p.m. ET

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Randy Jackson, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez are back for the 11th season of American Idol. It's time for more theatrics, screeching voices, powerhouse vocals and the next big star. Are you ready?

David Leathers Jr. was up first and he may be 17, but he looks like he is 12. You can already tell he is quite the ladies' man, his friends even nicknamed him "Mr. Steal Your Girl." He has the personality, but can he sing? We think maybe. David told Ryan that he actually beat out Scotty McCreery in a singing contest back in North Carolina. Woah! David sang "Remember the Rain" by Century 21, and he has a total Michael Jackson vibe about him — so much so, that the judges ask him to sing some Michael. Steven said "that was beautiful." Randy said, "you are going where Scotty McCreery went." He sails through to Hollywood. He kind of reminds us of Astro from The X Factor. Will he have the same ego?

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Up next was 16-year-old champion tap dancer Gabi Carrubba. She has been dancing since was a year old, and has been watching since she was a little kid. She immediately asked Nigel Lythgoe, the executive producer, for a hug upon entering. We don't know about you, but we don't remember them ever showing us Nigel on-camera in the auditions. That was kind of weird. Gabi has really pretty eyes and a really pretty voice. She sang "Sunday Morning" by Maroon 5. Jennifer said it "was beautiful" and loved the choices that she made. Steve thought "it was wonderful" and said "this may be your magic moment." Randy said she "was born to do this." Gabi is going to Hollywood.

Then of course there is the montage of people like Brianna Faulk, Neco Starr, Molly Hunt and Elise Testone making it to Hollywood, but we barely saw them. Will they get noticed in Hollywood?

Next up is Jessica Whiteley. She kind of has a Pia Toscano look to her. But oh no, she can't sing at all. Her voice is just terrible singing "In This Song" by Charice. She could break glass. Randy tells her that it was awful. But Jessica isn't over it, telling them she will see them at the Texas auditions. This girl isn't giving up so easily.

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Shaun Kraisman is up next and he says he looks like Ryan Seacrest. And it's creepy that he kind of does. They even have Shaun say all of Ryan's trademark lines like, "This is American Idol." He sounds like him, too! This is especially uncomfortable amidst rumors of Ryan's American Idol contract being up. They even joke about Shaun taking Ryan's job and Shaun says he will do it for free. Something for the execs to consider. But of course, Shaun can't sing. Bye, Shaun. We bet you anything he will a segment on the finale though.

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Shannon Magrane auditions next and she is just 15 years old, but when the judges hear that her dad played for the St. Louis Cardinals, she, of course, is asked to bring her whole family in. She has a powerful voice, reminds us of Megan Joy from Season 8. Randy said she was "vibing and rolling" with her dance moves. See you in Hollywood, Shannon!


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And here comes Tent Girl. Idol just loves their backstories. Amy Brumfield lives in a tent with her boyfriend. He works hard to make them money for necessities but they can't afford a place to live. It's kind of poignant when Amy says "I would rather be outdoors and happy then indoors and miserable." She has a really grainy voice and we don't like it at all. But the judges, of course, put her through. We don't think she will get very far. Steven said "the spirit of the woods snuck in you." Let's see how far that takes her.

Carrie Underwood
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Oh, Joshua Chavis. He is all about the drama, saying he is going to blow this thing out of the water. Bad sign when he says he is a combo of Chris Daughtry/Brad Paisley. He was a total joke, sounded like he was singing karaoke. The judges all laugh. Jennifer said, "you are sweet and cute. I don't know that the voice is really up to par with what we're doing this year." Steven said, "Your voice just ain't there. He tries singing again." Randy said, "It's terrible. No, no, no." He started to cry when he left. Screamed at cameras. Oh, Mr. Drama.

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Stephanie Renea is 15 and loves Carrie Underwood so much that she has a scrapbook of her. She even sang "Inside Your Heaven." We think she has potential, but are wondering if she's too young to make it all the way. The judges give her tips of being less nasally and to open her mouth more. But she is adorable.

Skylar Dixon and her brother Colton are back from last year. Colton came so close last year but he says he isn't trying out. They pressure him to sing. Skylar said she is in it to win it and sang "Breakeven" by The Script. She was good, great tone and she has a star look. Colton sang "Permanent" by David Cook. We love this song! Randy said, "I think you both have grown." Jennifer said, "I want you both." They both sail through.

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Lauren Mink works with people with intellectual disabilities and teaches them choir. She wants to be a role model. She has a great country voice. She sang "Country Strong" and reminded us of Gwyneth Paltrow. J.Lo had goosies. Steven said, "You've got so much passion, nice little audition there girl."

Ashlee Altise loves to dance and works those dreadlocks. She even thinks she can outdance J.Lo! She sang "Come Together." This was not good at all. Did they really give her a golden ticket? Steven says he like her fire and spirit and spunk. Jennifer likes a little bit of crazy. They are putting her through purely for the dramatics.

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W.T. Thompson has quit his job to try out for Idol and his wife is six months pregnant. That is a risky move! He has a cool country vibe. Something about him kind of reminds us of Michael Sarver from Season 8. Jennifer said, "he's got a little twinkle in his eye and I think his voice is there to be worked with." Randy said, "you are going to get eaten alive." He promises to make them proud.

Then of course there is the creepy stalker for Steven.  She said that if allowed, she would kiss his feet — or anything else for that matter. She called him her future ex-husband, and even gets a hug from Steven and grabs his booty. We are sure Steven loves the attention, but Erica Nowak's voice is obviously a no. 

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Brittany Kerr sure has the look and she is an NBA dancer. But sadly it seems that she knows how pretty she is. She can sing, but needs to learn to project. Steven said, "I liked the melody, on pitch and you're good looking. Just push it out a little more." J.Lo wants Steven to help her get it out. If Brittany works on it, she could do well. But she has to tone down the posing.

And it seems like they saved the best for last, like they usually do. Phillip Phillips works at his dad's pawn shop and he is adorable. He auditioned wearing plaid, with a southern accent, playing guitar. Very remniscent of season 8 winner Kris Allen, except they never showed Kris this early. He sang "Superstitious," which was good. But they want him to play with his guitar.  He does an acoustic version of "Thriller" and wow, it's really, really good. The judges love him. Jennifer said, "You have electricity going through your body." Randy said he is a true artist. Steven said, "I love it, I think everyone else is going to love it too." Randy says it perfectly, "What a way to cap the day off. That guy was amazing."

Who were your favorites last night? Do you think Phillip is the one to beat so far? Could any of them be the next Kelly Clarkson or Scotty McCreery? Weigh in below!


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