Standing with his guitar in hand in front of the American Idol judges, Bryant native Spencer Lloyd said all he could think was, "What am I going to do to impress these judges that have seen it all?"
Lloyd's first series of auditions for the reality-television show American Idol began Aug. 17, when the show's tour bus stopped in Little Rock. More than 2,500 people stood in line outside the William J. Clinton Presidential Center to try out for the singing competition, which has launched the music careers of Phillip Phillips, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood — and Arkansas' own Kris Allen.
The show's producers were the judges for whether participants would continue to the next round of auditions in another city. Lloyd, a 19-year-old University of Arkansas at Little Rock student majoring in business and rinance, decided to try out for the show because his friends had encouraged him to, and plus, the tour bus was only 15 minutes away from where he was.
"If [the tour bus] wasn't in Arkansas, I probably wouldn't have done it," he said.
Lloyd won the producers' approval and traveled to Austin, Texas, to perform in front of the show's official three judges: music artists Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban. But before Lloyd could see the judges, he was required to wait in the "chamber room," where there's a "mirror in front of you, cameras and microphones."
"It's exactly like you see [it] on TV," he said. "You're standing in that room, the green light comes on and you walk in, and you're standing right there in front of those judges. All eyes are on you. There's nothing to hide anything. It's all very intimate, right there and open."
Lopez was complimentary of Lloyd's appearance when he walked in the room, saying that he was a "pretty guy." Urban remarked, "So that's a yes from Jen."
"And a 'No' from me and Keith," Connick replied, joking. "I hate your guts. Your name is really cool, you look like that, even if you suck, you're carrying around a guitar. What's to like? I don't like it. I'm unhappy. This is torture for me."
Lloyd sang the same song he performed at his Little Rock audition, Colton Dixon's "Never Gone," while playing on an acoustic guitar. Connick said that while Lloyd appeared to be a "sweet" and "ridiculously handsome" person, Lloyd was an "OK" singer. However, Connick added, Lloyd would bring "something to American Idol that needs to be there."
Connick, Lopez and Urban all gave a "yes" to Lloyd, and he advanced to the show's Hollywood audition rounds. Other Arkansans who received the "golden ticket" to Hollywood include Malcolm Allen of Wrightsville; Terrica Curry of North Little Rock; Eric Wood of Higginson; and Rico Perkins of Little Rock.
"I appreciate the words Harry said," Lloyd said. "It builds me up and tells me 'Hey, this is what I need to do,' and it's not about him trying to lie to me and say, "Oh, you did great." Because honestly, it wasn't anything great. It was enough to get me through."