This week, "American Idol" kicked off its 11th season, and it appears even President Obama is getting into the spirit. On Thursday night at a fundraiser at the Apollo Theater, the commander in chief surprised a star-studded Harlem, New York, crowd by busting out a few measures of "AI" staple Al Green's "Let's Stay Together."
Obama's smooth singing voice impressed many — including the Rev. Al Green himself, who told TMZ that Obama "nailed it" — but does the leader of the free world have what it takes to make it on America's #1 singing competition?
"American Idol" associate music director and vocal coach Michael Orland certainly thinks so!
"I swear to you, if he auditioned for me in the big stadium [rounds], I would have put him through to the producers immediately," Orland exclusively told MTV News. "I think he was really charming and had a great voice, and that's all you can really tell in the a cappella rounds anyway. ... I thought his phrasing was great, how he broke it up and really worked the room while he was doing it."
But even more noteworthy was Obama's perfect pitch. "He was in the exact same key [as Al Green's recording]. To pull that out of the air, with everything perfectly in tune, I was really impressed," Orland added.
The vocal pro even believes Obama's voice was strong enough to win over ultimate deciders Randy Jackson, Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler. "I guarantee you he would have gotten a Golden Ticket."
On his hypothetical "Idol" journey, Obama's next challenge would be the dreaded Hollywood Week, where hundreds of hopefuls are forced to work around the clock, learning group numbers with little sleep and lots of drama. "I think considering the amount of stress he's normally under, he'd do really well," Orland laughed.
The "Idol" insider struggled to compare Obama's singing voice to any previous contestants but, ultimately, that's what makes the President a fantastic prospect.
"It sounded like him! He sang like he speaks. He has a unique voice, which is all you ever try to find in somebody. ... He didn't try to copy anybody," Orland raved.
Still, every singer could use a little constructive criticism — even singers who have the power to start nuclear war — and if Orland were working with Obama on a full-fledged "Idol" performance, he would encourage the President to take a few risks. "When you do one of those really well-known songs, don't be afraid to change it up a little bit," Orland said, jokingly adding, "If they could send Air Force One, I would give him a free coaching!"
Alas, Obama is too old to audition for "Idol" by 22 years, but fear not, Mr. President: there's always season two of "The X Factor."
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