The final round of “American Idol” auditions just wrapped up in Nashville, with a new batch of season 21 contestants singing for celebrity judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie in hopes of receiving a ticket to Hollywood. Thanks to some informative contestants and fans, new details have emerged about the audition process and even special guests who filmed for the show over the weekend. Here’s the latest…
Nashville ‘Idol’ Auditions Included Celeb Judges & Special Guests from Season 20
The third and final round of “judge city” auditions just finished in Nashville, where contestants who made it through several rounds of online tryouts were invited to sing in person for Bryan, Perry, and Richie. Auditions were also filmed earlier this fall in Las Vegas and New Orleans.
On November 13, 2022, Australian entertainment reporter Dean McCarthy posted an Instagram photo of himself with the judges and host Ryan Seacrest, all gathered in Nashville for the final auditions, held at the Kimpton Aertson Hotel. But those weren’t the only familiar faces on-hand for filming.
One of them was Haley Slaton Myles, who told her Facebook friends she was heading to Nashville on November 11 to audition for the judges on Sunday the 13th. “Idol” fans may remember Myles for her performances during last season’s Hollywood Week when she was eight months pregnant. She forged a special bond with Perry, who was a new mom to daughter Daisy, and also with fellow contestant Jordan Myles. Haley and Jordan fell in love, married and are now raising baby Jaelyn, who was born in January 2022, in Iowa.
In addition, “American Idol” crews filmed season 20’s winner Noah Thompson, runner-up HunterGirl and fan-favorites Dan Marshall and Fritz Hager performing at the Skydeck on November 11, captured by multiple photographers in the audience. It’s not believed the judges attended the concert, though, since Richie was performing in Atlanta that night.
Contestants Spent Several Days Auditioning and Filming
Though the show makes it look like contestants wait all day for their auditions and then leave right after, the truth is that they typically must stay in town for several days to rehearse and film extra segments for “Idol.” Numerous performers have spilled the tea in recent weeks about the process this year.
A young country singer from Kentucky, Sam L. Smith, who hopes to follow in Kentucky-bred Thompson’s footsteps, posted photos from the auditions, including set-ups for filming interviews and video of fellow contestants gathered on a rooftop deck.
Another contestant who made it through to the Nashville auditions was R&B singer Elijah McCormick of Southern Pines, North Carolina. After graduating from high school in 2019, he told the Sandhills Sentinel, he had planned to audition but was involved in a fiery car crash and hospitalized for 79 days and 10 surgeries.
Now finally healed and performing again, he told the paper that after three online auditions, he was invited to audition in Nashville. He told the paper he was expected to be in town for a week for interviews, rehearsals, and the actual audition.
Meanwhile, Branson Anderson, a contestant from Moapa Valley, Colorado, auditioned for the judges in Las Vegas. He told his hometown newspaper, the Mesa Valley Progress, that he didn’t make it through to Hollywood, but revealed details about the audition process.
Anderson said that after a producer reached out to him two years in a row, he decided to give it a try. He played an original song during his first virtual audition, then had a second online audition several days later. He was then invited to a third audition in front of the star judges in Las Vegas in late September. Anderson said he spent five days at the Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas, not only to audition but for photo shoots and filmed interviews.
“I would have to be up and ready to go by 5 am daily,” Anderson told the newspaper. “All the contestants met in a banquet room and we would just sit and wait most of the time. We wore the same outfit and had to look the same every day so anything filmed during the week appeared like it happened in one day.”
Around 64 contestants from the three “judge cities” typically receive a ticket to Hollywood. Once they reach that level of competition, they must sign strict confidentiality agreements and ensure they have no skeletons in their closet, including criminal records.
Hollywood Week is usually filmed in December; the judges will then whittle the competition down to the Top 24. ABC has announced that Season 21 will premiere on February 19, 2023.