'American Idol': 10 Rejects Who Came Back Stronger
Colton and Schyler Dixon
Almost making the Top 24 in season 10, as Colton Dixon did, must have been so disappointing for the blond-haired, blue-eyed singer. You can't blame the guy, then, for his decision to just tag along with his sister Schyler to the season 11 auditions in Savannah, Ga., rather than try out again himself. As soon as the judges spotted him, however, they were having none of it. When they finally convinced him to sing, he performed an angsty rendition of David Cook's ''Permanent,'' earning him a spot next to his sister in Hollywood. When Colton was cut in front of the judges last season (sister Schyler met her end in Hollywood), the uproar was so loud, Ellen DeGeneres invited him to sing on her daytime talker. Will Colton and Schyler face disappointment once again? You'll have to tune in to find out.
Reinhart was flat out rejected by Randy, Simon, and guest judge Shania Twain when she auditioned for season 9 in Chicago. (Only 13 contestants advanced from that city, including eventual winner, Lee Dewyze). Maybe the personnel change to Randy, Steven Tyler, and Jennifer Lopez did the trick for the sultry singer when she returned to Chicago in season 10. Not only did she get past the judges, but she made it all the way to the finals based on viewer votes. Bluesy versions of Elton John's ''Bennie and the Jets'' as well as ''The House of the Rising Sun'' kept her in the competition for a third place finish. Take THAT Simon!
It's hard to believe that season 6 winner Jordin Sparks didn't make it past the first round when she auditioned in Los Angeles in the summer of 2006. Eventually, the 16-year -old from Glendale, Ariz., (and daughter of ex-NFL football player Phillippi Sparks) won Arizona Idol, putting her on the fast track in Seattle where she auditioned in front of Randy, Paula, and Simon. As a finalist, Jordin wowed the judges with big-voiced renditions of standards such as ''I Who Have Nothing'' and ''A Broken Wing.'' I bet that Los Angeles screener who said no was mighty embarrassed when Jordin went on to win the crown. Fun Fact: 13-year-old Jordin auditioned for the AI spinoff, American Juniors, in 2003, but didn't make it far enough to get screen time.
Orlando's entire family became homeless after his dad got sick, and it was that sad story that anchored the 16-year-old's New York audition clip in season 10. Those who were wondering what happened to poor Travis after he was eliminated in Hollywood found out the rest of his tragic story when he returned to Idol this year to audition in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, things got much worse. The Bronx native quit high school and the family is once again homeless. Travis finally got some good news when the judges advanced him to Hollywood again. You'll have to tune in to find out if luck is finally on Travis' side.
Toscano is the very definition of the comeback kid. Viewers know her as the talented season 10 contestant who was in ninth place then shockingly eliminated. But most Idol fans are unaware that Pia had experience with rejection before her untimely boot. The dark-haired beauty with the big belty voice had auditioned for Idol FOUR times before finally advancing to the Top 13 in season 10! She made it to Hollywood in season 6 and only to the judges in season 7. The pop singer's steely determination has paid off. After leaving Idol, she landed a record contract with Interscope Records. Pia's album is due out this year. Success at last!
Could a name change bring a three-time auditioner some luck? Aaron Marcellus was Aaron Sanders when he auditioned for Idol for the first time in season 7. Only 23 at the time, the young singer was cut just before the Top 24. Aaron tried his luck again three years later, in season 10. Despite an impressive performance of ''Got to Get You Into My Life'' in Vegas with Robbie Rosen and Jordan Dorsey, he was cut once again at the Top 24. You've got to give the soul singer from Teaneck, N.J., props for never giving up. Aaron is back for more in season 11, this time impressing the judges in Pittsburgh with a heartfelt rendition of ''A Change Is Gonna Come.'' We'll see if his persistence — and that name change — pays off.
Brown made it to the Top 54 in season 8 only to get cut before the Top 36 after a sing-off with Megan Joy. (Megan eventually advanced to the finals that year.) When Lacey auditioned again in season 9, she headed to Orlando to sing in front of Randy, Simon, and guest judge Kristin Chenoweth, who all loved her rendition of ''Over the Rainbow.'' After a rough go in the semifinals (a pitchy version of ''Landslide'' did not impress the judges) she squeaked into the Top 12, only to be eliminated the first week of the finals with a sleepy version of the Rolling Stones' ''Ruby Tuesday.'' Lacey didn't go the distance, but her second go was a definite improvement.
During the audition phase of season 5, Simon Cowell was raving about an unnamed Irish girl he saw in Las Vegas, with an amazing set of pipes. ''I think we may have found someone as good as Kelly Clarkson,'' he told the New York Post at the time. Unfortunately, ''Irish Girl,'' as she was dubbed in chat rooms and message boards, was disqualified due to problems with her visa. That mystery girl was Carly Smithson, who returned to audition in season 7 once her immigration problems sorted out. The gal with the amazing pipes wowed the judges once again, and was considered an early front-runner when she made it to the finals that season. Her elimination in sixth place was considered controversial. Some wondered if her performance of ''Jesus Christ Superstar'' was offensive to some devout viewers, leading to her early demise. Nevertheless, ''Irish Girl'' finally got her moment to shine on the Idol stage.
Gina Glocksen was the spunky dental hygienist with a big big crush on Simon Cowell when she auditioned in season 5. Dressed in rocker duds, she inexplicably auditioned with a Celine Dion song. Maybe it was that inability to choose a genre and stick with it that led to her elimination in the rooms, just shy of the Top 45. Gina auditioned for season 6 and the second time was the charm. She advanced all the way to the finals to compete for four weeks before being eliminated in ninth place. Not too shabby for a girl with an unfortunate crush on Simon Cowell.
Martin's handicapped daughter was featured prominently during her first go at Idol in the season 7 Chicago auditions. After being eliminated in Hollywood, she was back in season 8, and would have made it to the Top 50 if a traffic warrant hadn't led to her disqualification. Angela's third try was heartbreaking. A viewer favorite, many assumed she'd make it to the Top 24. But surprisingly, the judges cut her. Just before season 9 kicked off, Angela's mom went missing. The police eventually found her, but one can only speculate whether Angela's troubles contributed to the panel's decision. Still, Angela got farther on her third try. Judge Ellen DeGeneres was so impressed, that she offered to help the singer find a recording contract.