[Warning: The below contains spoilers for American Idol’s premiere.]
Lady Luck smiled down on another group of hopefuls on American Idol on Sunday, March 19. Each looked for their big break as they stepped before judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie. They wanted to hear those four magical words: “You’re going to Hollywood!”
This week’s auditions included a Christian Chris Stapleton, the daughter of a chicken farmer, a singing cashier, and a single mom who stripped to put food on her child’s table. Not only was a fair share of golden tickets handed out, but the panel believed they’d witness Top 10 potential on more than one occasion.
Find out who wowed, who tugged at the heartstrings, and who will be given a second chance at their dream.
The Conway, South Carolina contestant spoke about her late stepdad, who she called her best friend, biggest fan, and supporter. The 21-year-old hairstylist sang “Whenever You Come Around” by Vince Gill. Katy cut her off. She thought she was playing it safe. “There is a lion in there,” Katy said. The judge recommended another pick in “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt. Luke had chills the whole time, saying she is on the edge of greatness. Lionel added, “What we just heard is just the tip of the iceberg.” The legend thought she could go all the way. An easy yes. Luke loved Mariah so much that he invited her to open for last year’s Idol winner and runner-up Noah Thompson and HunterGirl who were in concert that night.
The 22-year-old Charlotte resident revealed that she does birth chart readings along with singing. Luke and Katy enjoyed their astrology therapy session before getting a musical one. The retail advisor chose “My Man” by Barbara Streisand. Lionel thoroughly enjoyed it. Katy loved the contemporary vibe she put on the song choice. Luke appreciated her approach. The stars aligned and to Hollywood, she goes.
The 17-year-old in pink and fringe conjured up comparisons to HunterGirl and Dolly Parton. This daughter of a chicken farmer went with “The Dance” by Garth Brooks for her audition. Katy felt it was a bit quiet. She encouraged the teen to sing from her gut on “I Surrender” by Hillsong Worship. Lionel and Luke saw potential. Katy thought she had a beautiful voice, but needed to put in a little more crazy and sass. “You got to wake the chickens up,” Lionel said. Luke and Lionel were a yes, which beat out Katy’s not yet. Luke predicted she could be Top 10 material.
There were some conflicting critiques for the waitress. The 20-year-old sang “Cry Pretty” by Idol’s gold standard Carrie Underwood. Luke felt it was a bit stiff. Katy thought she had all of the ingredients. Lionel agreed. Luke believed he could be the toughest judge of the season. Tori made it through anyway despite the country star’s reservations.
The Oklahoman said the most defining thing for him has been his weight-loss journey. He opened up about being bullied for being flamboyant. Food was his coping mechanism for trauma. Pjae was 400 pounds at his heaviest before coming into his own identity. He stood in front of the judges 150 pounds lighter. The 23-year-old branding designer gave a soulful performance of “Mirror” Madison Ryann Ward, which received a standing ovation. Lionel said, “The kid could sing.” Luke thought he slayed. Katy felt a wave of chills and could see at least Top 24 at least. Mom came into the room to hear the good news that Pjae got a golden ticket. She won too getting to meet Ryan Seacrest and the judges she watched on TV for now 21 seasons.
The appliance repair technician and worship leader left the small-town life to pursue his big musical dreams. He played “To the Table” by Zach Williams. The Bamberg, South Carolinian impressed the judges with his radio-friendly performance. Luke called it badass. Katy referred to him as a Christain Chris Stapleton. Lionel felt he was Top 10 material.
Carina Deangelo and Johnny Knox
The two thought the way to the judge’s heart was through the stomach. They brought something tasty for them to munch on during the performances. First was 25-year-old Carina from Hawaii, who served up a plate of balls before her auditions. She spoke about owning a meatball company with her mom called My Balls. Johnny, a 26-year-old medical software salesman from Huntsville, Alabama brought sourdough bread. They both struck gold.
The 16-year-old from Idaho Falls, Idaho brought the judges Sour Patch Kids flavored snow cones. She reflected on being a massive fan of alum David Archuleta, who gave her words of encouragement. He provided tips on battling through the nerves. She applied the wisdom on “What About Us” by P!ink. Katy felt Paige finished strong. Lionel agreed. Katy doesn’t think she was ready, but Lionel was willing to take the gamble with a yes. Luke broke the tie with a yes.
After a string of misses, the judges were hoping the 20-year-old from Clio, South Carolina could bring them out of their funk. The nail technician aimed to do that on “Baby, I Love You” by Aretha Franklin. Mission accomplished. The judging congregation loved being taken to church. She was blessed with a golden ticket.
The 21-year-old from Beckley, West Virginia initially auditioned virtually at the store he worked at through “Idol Across America” before seeing the judges. He put a cool spin on “Take on Me” by A-ha. Katy liked his vocal range, but he isn’t sure he knows how to fully use his instrument. Luke needed to hear more. Kamron was overtaken by nerves before taking a crack at the second song, Lionel’s “Truly.” He made it through thanks to some encouragement. Lionel thought he needed to study vocal delivery a little more. Luke believed it came down to a lack of confidence. Katy wanted to roll the dice on him. The other two judges ended up giving him a chance too. “Attention customers, Kamron is headed to Hollywood.”
The 19-year-old Oklahoma State University is going to school to become a veterinarian, but his true dream is to make it in music. Luke was all smiles as he listened to the student perform “Something in the Orange’ by Zach Bryan. Katy could hear a little Elvis Presley. Lionel felt he could be a storyteller with more coaching. Luke and Katy agreed. Of course, they wouldn’t let him leave to Hollywood before he took a look at Katy’s dog Nugget and Lionel’s dog Sylvester.
The 22-year-old Okie went into her struggles through the years as a single teen mom. Paying the bills by stripping, she hoped the audition was the first step of getting her out of dancing. She sang “Talking to the Moon” by Bruno Mars while her daughter watched with the judges. Lionel thought Fire needs to be pushed. Luke wanted her voice to be more. Katy felt there wasn’t enough fire there. Luke was a no. Lionel agreed. “There is always light in the darkness,” Katy said. They wanted to give her a second chance in Nashville, which meant a month to prepare. Does Fire bring the fire? To be continued.
American Idol, Sundays, 8/7c, ABC