After many high note-saturated years, the long-in-the-tooth American Idol will sign off after this upcoming fifteenth season (premiering in January 2016). But if your dreams of being America’s next golden throat are still red-hot, fear not: AI will kick off auditions for its epic swan song this Friday in Denver, so pour yourself a hot tea with plenty of honey and get ready for your close up.
Beginning at 7 a.m. July 10 (no camping out — and besides, that looks desperate) American Idol will take over the Denver Coliseum, opening its gates to all comers. You can find all the details on the official AI page, along with the release to audition. But if you feel like a shoo-in because everyone at Armida’s knows your name, you can also create a profile and upload a video of your stage self busting out Mariah Carey’s “Without You”; if it grabs the producer's attention, you might avoid the crowd altogether. (Although getting to sweat bullets in front of Keith Urban, J Lo and Harry Connick Jr. is what it’s all about, right? RIGHT?)
Over fourteen seasons, only one person from Colorado has made it into the Top 12 — but Coloradans have definitely had some memorable screen time on American Idol. Here are our five favorite hometown heroes:
5) Lilly Scott
Littleton’s quirky-voiced little songbird was just twenty years old when Season 9 took her all the way to the semi-finals and just shy of the top twelve. Despite being skilled on a score of instruments beyond the guitar and piano, AI chose to crown oddball Lee DeWyze instead. Scott went on with her band Varlet and completed a successful Kickstarter to finish an album; she played the Westword Music Showcase last summer. These days she's striking out on her own, making New York City her home while she finds new musical footing.
4) Bobby Bennett
Denver’s Bennett worked his way through Season 5, charming the judges right up until the first week of semi-finals — when he was cut for delivering a Vegas-chomping rendition of Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana,” complete with wink and awkward dance moves. He didn’t give up his dreams of singing, though; Bennett moved to Hollywood to carry the torch on many club stages. He often returns to Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret to sell out shows, hum a few bars and throw some side eye at his televised efforts.
3) Richie Law
Season 11 saw Centennial’s Law dropping his honey of a country voice on America — but when he failed to make the Top 25, Idol lost a chance at further climbing the country charts. Law's hungry fans have kept his singing career going; he's opened for some of that genre’s best singers and even got a Nashville recording contract.
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2) Ace Young
Season 5 was good for Boulder’s Ace Young, who made it to seventh place — the closest a Colorado crooner has gotten to the gold (that season went, randomly, to missing-in-action singer Taylor Hicks). Although Young didn’t win the title, his chops took him to Broadway where, working on a production of Hairspray, he met his future wife, Diana DeGarmo. Since she was the Season 3 runner-up, they became AI’s first official couple: Young even proposed to DeGarmo on an Idol finale.
1) Magic Cyclops
Though never making it past the audition process, Denver’s own Magic Cyclops left an indelible impression on Season 11 and garnered a new following during his fifteen minutes of fame. Sadly, Magic died tragically earlier this year when an air guitar he was playing exploded on stage, killing him instantly. We were able to contact his spirit via a Ouija board and asked him about his experience in reality television, and here’s what he shared: “They were looking for weirdos and sought me out. The less I tried, the further I went. That’s the only time in my life that’s ever happened. So that was weird.” Would he have done it again, knowing what he does now? “NO," he responds. "It came with a lot of empty promises and fair-weather friends and a long list of other shows calling me up to be a weirdo. Who wants that? Not me. GOODBYE.”