"American Idol" judges visited Portland for the first time over the weekend as contestants performed in front of the famed panel that includes megastars Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler.
Portland-area singers had their eyes on the coveted golden ticket to Hollywood - the ultimate prize of "American Idol"auditions. The selected contestants arrived early in the morning Saturday and Sunday. After registration, they went through a long day of interviews.
The waiting and anticipation was almost too much to bear for Jeff Kuhns, whose son was taking part in the auditions. "I'm really nervous. He's not nervous at all," he said. Tyler, Lopez, Randy Jackson and host Ryan Seacrest said the city lived up to its "Keep Portland Weird" slogan.
Even for these judges, some of Portland's contestants caught them a little off-guard. "Twice yesterday, I asked, 'What's in the drinking water here?' Obviously, something was really wrong - in the best way, though," said Tyler, the Aerosmith lead singer.
The judges said Portland's day 1 auditions left something to be desired. "This is a hard town, man. It's a really hard town," Tyler said. "People can sing, but they were just missing this one little flavor."
But on day 2, the Rose City made the judges proud. "We had a really great day today. I was surprised how many people we put through in a row," Lopez said. "Yesterday wasn't as - how would you say? - yesterday, was cloudy, sleepy (and) rainy."
Contestant Haley Johnson, of Beaverton, said she hoped for the golden ticket more than anything, but simply being at the audition was a good experience.
"I just kind of hope for the best and if it happens, it happens," Johnson said. "If it works out, that's awesome. But if not,I'm not going to let that tear me down. I'm just going to keep trying to sing, write music and do my thing.""American Idol" returns to FOX 12 Oregon in January.