American Idol has had some wild auditions over the years, and we’re taking you on a tour of the very best and the very worst of rock and metal. Brace yourself for the weird, wacky and wonderful.
Here are 10 of our favorite American Idol auditions every alternative fan should see for both laughs and music discovery.
This self-written metal track
24-year-old VoKILLz came to perform for the judges and sang an original song called “American Creature.” He scared the judges when he entered the room in his long red coat and a skull mask. He silently handed Katy Perry a black velvet bag, which the judges poked and prodded before realizing a heart-shaped necklace was inside. Though the judges applauded his screaming technique, they decided to let him go. They certainly won’t be forgetting VoKILLz anytime soon.
A metal Adele cover
16-year-old Stephanie Sanson said “You only live once” and brought her whole band of the same name along to support her as she tried out for the show in 2013. She screamed the lyrics to Adele‘s “Set Fire To The Rain,” flipped off the judges and screamed out of the room. Judge Mariah Carey said, “OK, I need to get my pastor on the phone” after Sanson’s grand exit. The vocalist, who now releases music under Lucifena, also auditioned for X Factor and America’s Got Talent with pretty similar results.
“The first to mosh on American Idol…”
Contestant Hunter Gibson, aka “The Comeback,” appeared on the show this season and did an acoustic cover of the All-American Rejects’ “Swing, Swing.” Katy Perry, who Gibson saw at Warped Tour, even sang along and said the song “brought [her] back.” Though it was a “no” from the judges, he certainly brought up the energy in the room.
A Silverstein song hits the small screen
In 2006, 18-year-old Ryan Hart sang “Smashed Into Pieces” by Silverstein for the judges. It took Simon Cowell less than 30 seconds to cut off the young singer. “Why on Earth are you here?” Cowell asked. On his way out, Hart said, “I’m bored with you” to the judges.
This contestant who channeled classic-rock legends
Now well known for his classic-rock vocals, Caleb Johnson won the 13th season of the show and charmed audiences with his powerful and nostalgic voice. In the series finale, he sang Aerosmith‘s “Dream On” and even performed with KISS. Johnson proved that rock is for everyone and that America deserves a hearty yell every once in a while.
A song about worms
Contestant Nico Bones from 2018 is certainly a character to remember. He brought his own guitar and amp, burped while being interviewed and performed his song “Worms.” His lyrics said, “Nobody likes me/Everybody hates me/Just because I eat worms.” We can’t say it’s not catchy…
Here’s a young Adam Lambert
Many know Adam Lambert as both the current lead singer of Queen, who were selling out venues and touring the world pre-COVID-19, and as the runner-up in the eighth season of American Idol. Did you know he auditioned with “Bohemian Rhapsody” and stunned all four judges? Talk about coming full circle.
Giving Bon Jovi a modern-rock twist
Rock singer David Cook is well known today for his radio single “The Time Of My Life” and his win on the seventh season of the reality talent show. He was actually brought to compete by previous American Idol contestant and rock/country artist Chris Daughtry. The two share a similar sound, including an impressive range and raw vocals.
The rocker who made Katy Perry swoon
Cade Foehner had the sultry rock voice, long hair and guitar skills that made Perry absolutely lose it. Foehner rocked out with songs by guitar heroes, such as Santana and Lynyrd Skynyrd, on the show and finished in the top five.
The contestant bold enough to sing Aerosmith to Steven Tyler
Have you ever sang one of your favorite songs to the artist who sings it? That’s what James Durbin did, and it paid off as he finished in the top four on American Idol in 2011. He also was the lead singer for the rock band Quiet Riot from 2017-2019.
Have you seen any memorable auditions on American Idol? Sound off in the comments below!