If the Atlanta auditions on Thursday night’s American Idol are any indication, “Hotlanta” might soon be known as “Totlanta.”
Kids ruled the roost, with memorable performances from a pair of 15-year-olds and a joyously childlike Ryan Seacrest co-hosting the show with his mother, Connie.
Bria Anai, 15, wowed the judges with her voice, singing a stunning rendition of Adele‘s “One and Only”, as well as a mega-watt lipstick that matched her pants.
“I love the sparkly on the lips because you can sing like that,” said Jennifer Lopez. “Let me accentuate this mouth so they can focus on the magnificence.”
And baby-faced Jordan Brisbane, 15, surprised the judges by stating from the outset, “I believe I have what it takes to shut American Idol down.”
And he delivered, singing a soaring version of “If I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars, although the judges instructed him to be careful with his runs.
“People are going to jump to their feet [when you sing],” Harry Connick Jr said, while Lopez added, “You have a really great voice I think you’re adorable.”
Other standouts included Majesty Rose, 21, wearing a flowered headband, whose effortless take on Coldplay’s “Violet Hill” earned raves.
“Just hearing you sing and play a lovely melody in a quiet way is refreshing,” said Connick, while Keith Urban said, “The quieter you got the more I leaned in.”
“So you like me?” Rose asked. “This is nice.”
Army National Guardsman Chris Medina, 23, auditioned with his dog, Bubby, who immediately fell asleep in Connick’s arms after the judge picked him up.
“He’s got the goods,” Lopez said of Medina.
Gas station attendant Jesse Cline, 19, didn’t let exhaustion stop him, after driving all night from Kentucky to Atlanta.
“It’s an indescribable thing,” Urban said of Cline’s performance of “Washed by the Water.” “You’re a born singer.”
“I stand out from Slapout,” said pink-haired Jess Meuse, 22, about being raised in her tiny Alabama hometown.
Meuse, who sang her own song, stood out to the judges, too, with Connick whispering “Stevie Nicks” as she sang.
Country singers, of course, also represented in the South.
A bearded Ben Briley, 24, sang “Arms of a Woman,” prompting Connick to dub him “Brother Gumbo” in regard to the various influences present in his voice, and Urban to rave, “If you sang a cappella right now, I would pull to the side of the road I might crash my car.”
Self-described “rough-around-the-edges” Lauren Ogburn, 19, wore a bandana, boots and displayed lots of exterior toughness with her performance of “Fancy,” but the judges’ words shattered her bravado.
Although Connick told her, “I think you’re trying a little too hard” in regard to her fashion choices, the singer gave Lopez “goosies” while Urban said she was “authentic.”
Ogburn burst into tears when she received her golden ticket, prompting Lopez to say, “I love it when tough girls are real mushy on the inside.”
But in the end, it was the kids who stole the night, including Seacrest, who, at one point in the telecast, told his mother, “You can’t spank me on national television!”
American Idol continues on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.