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American Idol Season 16 - A New Beginning

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Music is a world within itself, within a language we all understand. - Stevie Wonder.  


From your first lullaby to dancing with your first love, music finds a way to seep into your soul and move you like nothing else can.  It excites, brings tears to your eyes, marks some of your biggest moments, gives you hope and makes you proud.


Music moves you.  And so the adventure begins. To uncover the finest talent this nation has to offer. The journey will take us to every corner of this country with no voice left unheard, from the dreamers to the lullaby singers, they are the fabric of America.


And they could be the stars in the making. I should know.  Because it happened to me.  - Carrie Underwood.  Welcome to the kinder, gentler, ABC version of American Idol!


Welcome back home to the place where superstars are board, this time with an all new powerhouse panel leading the charge: Lionel Ritchie!  Katy Perry!  And Luke Bryan!  And returning as your host, Ryan Seacrest!  This is American Idol!


New York's Madison Square Garden.  The first to audition is 17yr old Catie Turner from Langhorne, PA, who makes people tense just to be in her presence. Idol obsessed forever, she sings an original song about her disillusionment with the media.


Katie calls her a spectacular songwriter. Luke says she's interesting and brilliant beyond her years. Lionel compares her to the wonderment of seeing a Martian land. Luke says yes. Lionel says Yes for his first time out. Katie calls her fresh and necessary. Yes, she's going to Hollywood!


Ron Bultongez escaped from the Congo when he was 10 years old and was last in NYC when he emigrated. Growing up with an abusive father, he was thrown out of his own home as a teenager. Now living in Plano, TX and a father himself, he's here for his new son and the live he wants to build for his family. He sings Let It Go by James Bay.


Playing the guitar, his vocal is deeply soulful and dripping with the emotion of a lifetime of experience in just 21 yrs of living. Luke says there's something inspiring about you, your demeanor and honesty is exciting. Katy says she doesn't know he is yet. Lionel wonders if it's too soon. Luke says he's unpolished but Yes. Katy says no. Lionel says come back with your identify.


An hour later, Lionel is having regrets and asks production to bring Ron back. He announces he's changing his vote to a Yes and welcomes him to Hollywood, handing him a golden ticket!  Ron holds back the tears in disbelief.  Ron from the Congo, Luke jokes, you con't go wrong.  


19 year old Maddie Poppe from Clarksville, IA sings Rainbow Connection by Kermit The Frog and the judges are enthralled. You have a storyteller voice, Lionel says. Katy says you have  your own dope distinctive quality to your voice. Luke says I'm just saying yes. You got my vote, says Lionel.  You're going to Hollywood!


Kobee is a 26yr old musical theater actress from Denver, CO where she appeared in The Producers. Prepared as she'll ever be, she sings an original song with a powerhouse vocal that could be heard in New Jersey.  Katy says this is not how we listen to music.


Don't judge me, Kobee says. You're not a pop star, Katy says. Lionel says this is the music business, that voice is not going to work on records. Luke says you are doing a disservice going down this route. It's three no's.  In Broadway, she could be a success, Luke says.


Nashville, TN. When age 11, the next singer rendered possibly the worst version of the National Anthem. Now 16 years old, Harper Grace from McKinney, TX created a Dream Board which included trying out for AI (and maybe winning). Singing an original, if this clip goes viral, it'll be for a complete different reason.


Katy says that's a well written song.  The other judges like the details too. Luke asks for another song and she sings Young, Dumb and Broke by Khalid. You have a great voice, Luke says. I love the quality in your voice, Lionel says. Katy says your voice hasn't seen it's ultimate potential. She takes Harper's Dream Board and crosses out "tryout for AI" and adds "Going To Hollywood!"


The next contestant drove in from Marion, KY to Nashville.  Layla Spring, age 16, is shadowed by her 7yr old adoring sister all the way into the audition room.  The two sisters first sing together, mostly Dyxie (too young to enter, though she gets 3 Yes's). Valid 2026, Katy writes on her Golden Ticket as her eyes are wide open with excitement.


Now it is Layla's turn, calling Lionel so wise. She sings Who's Loving You by The Jackson Five.  She has a good voice, Luke says. Katy says you have something and could use all the experience going to Hollywood would bring. Lionel says this is not a business about cute; I don't want to destroy you with this opportunity. You're going into the fire. Lionel: Yes. Katy: Yes. Luke: You're Going To Hollywood!


19yr old Benjamin Ingles from Enid, OK thought being a cashier would be a great opportunity to pick up girls and has written songs about girls he had crushes on but never sang them. Socially awkward, he's never kissed a girl because he's never been in a relationship. Katy decides to change that. With Luke taking the selfie, he gives her a peck on the cheek.


Katy complains he didn't even make a smootch sound. When Benjamin comes in for a second time, she turns at the last second and plants one on his lips. He falls to the ground in surprise. As Lionel and Luke yuk it up, Benjamin says that's a first. Ever the gentleman, he asks her, how was it?


Benjamin asks for some water, his mouth gone dry as Lionel says that's a big deal, your first kiss was Katy Perry. That's going up on the fridge, Benjamin says. After performing, Luke says he needs to hone his craft more. Katy says she enjoyed him today but there are others out-singing him right now. Lionel said he already won everything today but just needs to practice and come back in 2 years and kiss a couple more girls.


Los Angeles where Lionel can find his Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. So can Ryan Seacrest. But not Katy or Luke. They create a group chat called The Judgementals. Niko Bones is hungover as if he just came from his previous night's gig. Playing in a rock'n'roll band, he carries his own amp into the audition and sings the nursery rhyme Worms rock-style, complete with burps & reverb.


I think you're dope, Katy says. Lionel says I'm glad you stopped that song when you did. Luke says want to hang out, chug some beer and make some bad decisions, I'm a yes. But for American Idol, it's a no.  Keep Rock'n'Roll alive, Niko says in parting.


In total contrast, 18yr old Nursing freshman Noah Davis from Royal, AK establishes a one word connection with Katy. His American Dream is owning an Alpaca. Or two. Singing Stay by Ariana and playing the piano, his voice is buttery and he has the rapt attention of all three judges, going as far as dropping Katy's jaw.


All three judges get up to hug Noah.  Wig, Katy whispers, snatched.  Flow. Out the door.  I don't know what that means, Luke says, but you're going to Hollywood! If you want an Alpaca, Lionel says, you can have an Alpaca.


The AI Bus heads to Disney Springs at Walt Disney World with Jordin Sparks, Rubben Studdard and Chris Allen join Mickey and Minnie Mouse to help with the search for then next American Idol. Alyssa Raghu, 15 and from Orlando, is a huge Disney fan and her father has been behind her singing journey every step of the way. Singing Almost Is Never Enough by Ariana Grande & Nathan Sykes.


She puts down her guitar and begins to sing dreamily, bringing smiles and high 5's from the judges. Sounding that good at 15, Katy says, you've voice is still going to grow. My full body felt what you were singing. I'm a believer. You're so easy on the ears, Luke says. Top 10, Katy says. This shouldn't happen at 15yrs Lionel says and I'm excited to see where you're going to go. You're going to Hollywood!


26yr old Sador Milano is well known in Moscow, where he won a singing competition in 2015, but he's in Orlando for a new style of music. He has a wide range, and can sing both male and female parts, idoling Freddie Mercury and Jackson Five. He sings Before I Ever Met You (Banks).  The audition is kid of all over the place and the judges don't quite know what to make of it.


Katy passes it to Luke, who tells Mr. Ritchie he's up. Silence. Umm...  Sador can't can't find the door out at first. He tells his parents the judges told him now and maybe to try out for Broadway.


16yr old Zach Denofrio from Florida doesn't have much experience singing (less than a year), his voice a little high pitched, and he has socks for every day of the year, giving Ryan a pair of Red White & Blue for his own sockless feet. He gives the judges sock gifts as well. He sings The Way You Look Tonight by Frank Sinatra. His voice comes out in a deep, rich baritone, shocking the judges.


Katy gets up to dance with Zach as he sings but the boy doesn't miss a beat (or a note). As mom's ear is pressed to the door, Katy has Zach dip her.  Luke asks if that's really his speaking voice. Show him how to be a man, Katy teases Luke. Zach starts singing again.


Luke says he has Sinatra down but Sinatra waited off the beat a little bit. You had me at kitten socks, Katy says, your speaking voice will change - something's already dropped. Did we miss something while you were dancing, asked Luke?  You killed it, Lionel says, you're going to Hollywood!


15yr old Grace Walker is a from San Juan Capistrano, CA is the first in a series of No's at the end of the show. If they're not ready, Lionel says, don't let them go. Give them time to find out who they are. Failure cannot happen at 15/16/17 - you're just learning, they tell contestants. With the tears flowing, singers express hope for the future.


Dennis Lorenzo started in music at 16, dealing with some rough family stuff, and music healed me. From West Philly, PA, his father was murdered when he was 5 and we was going down the wrong path in life. Then his grandparents bought him a guitar at age 16 and he's been playing and singing ever since. He bought a one-way ticket to LA and was sleeping on the streets.


He got his first job, a girlfriend, a beautiful baby girl, and now he's stepping up to support his family. Singing Unaware by Allen Stone, both his guitar and vocal are soft spoken and easy listening, a dynamic range, a quiet, confident power. Lionel says I'm smiling, that was refreshing. You delivered all my check boxes. Katy says we don't have to convince ourselves that sounds good. It does.


Luke asks how long he's had that guitar - it has a hole in it. You just took a guitar with a hole in it and just 3 chords and gave it all the soul it needed. It ain't the equipment, Lionel says, it's what you use it for. This feeling is what I signed up for, Luke says. American dreams. I'm a fired up yes. Heck yes, says Katy. I'm standing up screaming and hollerin', says Lionel, you're going to Hollywood!


So what do you think about the return of American Idol on ABC? Is it too soon? Like the show never went off the air? Did you see your next American Idol tonight?  Check out our entire American Idol forum on the Morty's TV Fan Forums at tvfanforums.net!

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The judges have changed - Luke, Lionel and Katy - but your host has not - Ryan Seacrest! For anyone who thought production was hiding Ryan during last night's premier episode, this into should cancel any doubt.  This is Ryan's show. This is American Idol!  


The first to audition is 15yr old Mara Justine from Galloway, NJ, singing Love On The Brain  (Rihanna). It's a big voice in a tiny package, an emotive vocal with confident power and a bit of growl. She gets applause from the three judges who bypass the critique and go straight to the unanimous vote - she's going to Hollywood!


Are the singers getting younger or are we getting older? The next contestant to reach for the stars is 16yr old Andrew Weaver from Breman, GA, singing Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran, he has a bright vocal and smile, Luke says he did a great job.  Griffin Tucker is 15yrs old from Dallas, TX, singing Lady Madonna (The Beatles) and Katy says he's an old soul. 18yr old Christina Jones from O'Fallon, IL lets loose with Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me by Gladys Knight while wearing braces and rubber bands.


Luke tells Christina, it's a true thing of beauty.  Yes, Yes, Yes, she's going to Hollywood. Andrew and Griffin also get golden tickets to Hollywood. Katy says she's looking for someone to give her the feeling, she's listening for the feeling.


Hoping to produce that feeling is William Cassanova, 26, from Washington, DC. If you live up to it, he says, that's your name. He sings A Song For You by Donny Hathaway. He talks a good talk but can he walk the walk?  He was smoov, Lionel says. Luke says you can sing your but off. Katy says he looked into her soul. The former shoe salesman will need some walkin' shoes because he's headed to Hollywood!


22yr old Michelle Susett is a singer, of course, 3 years in the USA from Venezuela now living in Miami. Singing something in Spanish, she's dancing and entertaining and making people happy with music. She pauses and turns on a laugh track and tries to get the judges to join in. Lionel and Luke are game but Katy is more hesitant. The song is forgotten as the dance class leaves Katy on the floor.


You can hear the production crew laughing as Lionel and Luke try to lift Katy up. There are things a man can't unsee, Luke says. Katy says you have no fear, you're not annoying and make people happy. Lionel says that is your personality and style,we're awake now, you have a yes from me. You have some gravel in your voice, Luke says, you have a Yes from me. Katy says you can sing but can you compete? I'll give you the chance, it's a yes.


26 year old Misha Gontar is from Ukraine, now living in Chicago, IL, singing an original song that contains more sounds so much than words, at least not anything in English. Katy is confused but Luke is game to join in on the chorus. It's an actual Ukrainian song. Luke calls him the Busta Rhymes of the Ukraine. Lionel doesn't know where to put it in the AI basket. He gets 3 No's.


Brandon Diaz is a 21yr old from Asburn, VA via Boston, MA attending the Berkley College of Music. Taught music by his Cuban-born father, he sings Unaware by Allen Stone for the American Dream. His vocal has great range and dynamics, soulful and earnest, confident and solid, integrated well with the guitar.


Lionel says he's amazed at the falsetto, how high can you go? It's very clean. Luke says you went too high once but we can cut you some slack. Katy calls him the best male singer they've heard so far. Boom, Lionel says. He gets 3 Yes's.


Somethings just go beyond the ability to update.  So check out YouTube for Katy and one of the contestants puffing out their throats like frogs.  I cannot do it justice with my words.


Trevor Holmes is a 27yr old construction worker but will be your next American Idol.  He also has a HUGE crush on Katy Perry. But his girlfriend is also at the audition. Awkward. You're so hot, Katy tells him. Lionel calls him a dreamboat. He calls Katy ma'am and she exclaims, don't respect me! Are you engaged?  No.  Cool.  But he does have a girl. Oh lord, Luke says. I hope you can sing, Katy says.


Trevor sings In Case You Didn't Know by Brett Young and Katy's smile gets even bigger. Emotive with a sensitive vocal, he throws in Katy's name and Luke warns her he can't protect her. She's speechless when he's done. He confesses his crush to her.  Luke tells him to dig into his voice a little more but all Trevor can see is Katy.


Use your tools a little more, Luke is saying. He's in construction, Katy interrupts, he's got lots of tools.  You have to have things in your arsenal, Lionel says as he tunes out. How about we vote?  You're going to Hollywood!  You can teach me how to be hot again. The Girlfriend comes running in and gives him a big kiss on the lips and Katy fake runs out.  The girlfriend escorts him out.


You were so close, Luke jokes.  Straight out of Heaven, Lionel jokes.  I'm gonna look him up on Instagram, Katy declares.


The temp is 103 degrees in New Orleans but the energy is even hotter as the auditions continue at Mardi Gras World. Laine Hardy was born on the Bayou in Livingston, LA. Now 176, he just picked up singing 18 months ago, but always wanted to be Elvis. His life is fishing, alligator hunting and driving his truck around town, burning gas, but normally shy, he comes alive when singing.


After making fun of his accent, Laine educates the judges on how to catch an alligator. He sings Hurricane by The Band of Heathens, his nervousness is clear as the perspiration on his face but he perseveres with gravelly vocal and better enunciation than his speaking voice.  Luke says he may win American Idol.  You're in, Katy says. We're not going to bring it to a vote, Lionel says, you're in.


Katy calls 27yr old Autumn Woods from Katy, TX a glamozan for her leopard print top, but her rendition of Total Eclipse Of the Heart (Bonnie Tyler) fails to impress the judges. Turn around, Autumn, three No's.    22yr old delivery driver Hank The Businessman from Pittsburgh, PA also fails to deliver the goods.  


25yr old Neshia Ruffins from Nawlin's also could not earn any beads from the judges. 23yr old Jonathan Herman from Austin, TX twisted it up with a song in Spanish and the judges let him off easy.  His girlfriend can't believe it and lets out a string of profanities. I'm still mic'd he tells her.  Oh sh*@@t, she says.  


Gabbi Jones is 20yrs old from St. Louis, MO and is the full package and then some. She has 30 days to become a star or her daddy's making her go back to school.  She's on Day 20 but if she gets a ticket, the countdown is over. Singing Dangerous Woman by Ariana Grande, she's very theatrical, seductively advancing on the judges, blasting out her vocal.


Lionel says I normally doesn't do that but gets up and gives her a hug. That was really good. There are things we can tone down but your basic core is exciting. Katy you sang Ariana with rock and grit and that's OK. Luke says it's hot down here, just vote while I get my breath. Lionel and Katy both vote to send her to Hollywood and Luke gives her the golden ticket. The countdown is over!


Ryan announces Macy's will be American Idol's official fashion sponsor of the show this season and this is the last time I will mention it.


We're still in New Orleans and 25yr old Cameron Theodos from Shreveport, LA is rocking his audition (couldn't place the song but it was high energy and well sung).  Luke says he did a great a job showing the soul in his voice. Katy says I enjoyed your original song for sure, saw your personality. You have a little something there. You have to grow, Lionel says, come with it. He gets 3 Yes votes!


No stranger to the Idol stage is Thadeus Johnson from OK, having auditioned in Season 9, 2010 when he was 17yrs old. It made him the man he is today. He realized his 390lbs was a detriment to his singing and after considering suicide, lost 162lbs to find his music. Now he feels more ready to sing and have his singing felt by the judges.


Now 25, Thadeus sings Don't You Worry Child by Swedish House Mafia, representative of where he is in his life. He delivers a powerful a capella performance that mesmerizes the judges. Lionel (who doesn't do this often) gets up and gives Thadeus a big hug. You're here for a reason, he says, you have an incredible reason. Luke says I love the unassuming character that teaches me to inspire.


Katy says he has an incredible voice and she wants to figure out who he is as an artist and watch him push himself even farther. Let's take a vote Lionel says. We don't need no vote, Katy says. The three say in unison, you're going to Hollywood!


17yr old Rissa Watson is from Apache, OK, a town so small you know everyone by first and last name. Her parents' furniture store has been in the family since it was established by her great great great grandfather in 1901. She was too initially too shy to perform facing her audience. She won the Apache Idol before 150 people and realized singing is what she loved.


When she heard Idol was coming back, she started crying because she has the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to break tradition and follow her dreams. Singing When We Were Young by Adele, her vocal is soulful and honest, strong and confident, emotive and enticing. She shows range and dynamics, drawing emotion out of the air with her voice.


Whew, Luke says. I got full body chills, Katy says, you are very talented. Lionel says I love when you aren't thinking but doing it, we were all sucked into your world. Luke says voice of an angel, until you do otherwise, don't play guitar. She can play guitar, Katy says. She doesn't need it, Luke says, your voice is the only instrument that counts.  One Two Three - Hollywood!


Garrett Jacobs is 17yrs old from Rossier City, LA. His biggest supporter is his 68yr old Honey who swears he can sing the phone book. I'll always be there for him, she says, until I draw my last breath. Singing It's A Man's World (James Brown), he's got a strong voice, sincere and heartfelt, but it feels like he's forcing his intonation.


Lionel says he has great quality and could go places. Luke says he's bad ass, 6'4", beautiful, raw, unpolished, which is fun. We get to watch you be challenged and grow. You're spectacular to look at Katy says, but the timing of the guitar is slugging you back. You have something worth carving out.  He says heartthrob, Lionel says, she says OMG, and I'm saying You're Going To Hollywood!


David Francisco walks into his audition using hand crutches to walk, a friend carrying his guitar. At 25yrs old, he moved to Nashville to do music in 2016 but 3 weeks after arriving, was hit by a car and was paralyzed from the waist down. After months of therapy, he sees his foot move just a little and has been slowly improving ever since.


While he was recovering, a friend wrote him letters of encouragement and they reconnected, began dating and is now his finance. Sitting on a bench, he sings Isn't She Lovely (Stevie Wonder), with a unique vocal variation that brings tears to Katie's eyes. Lionel can't take it anymore and tells him to stop. He gets up for yet another hug (remember, he doesn't do that often!).


You bring inspiration to us all, Lionel tells David, your spirit is the blessing of life and you are an inspiration. Be as proud of yourself as she is. His finance brings his walking braces while Luke brings out his Golden Ticket. They meet half way. Did we say you're going to Hollywood, Lionel asks? No, you didn't, David says.  You're going to Hollywood, the three judges cry! That was the purest kind of love, Katy gushes after David leaves.


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Tonight, our road trip takes us to the majestic city of Savannah and some old fashioned southern hospitality. Music has always been an undeniable stable of southern culture.  This is American Idol!


Our first audition is from Winterhaven, FL, 20yr old Crystal Alicea.  Bullied growing up, singing is her response and for her audition, she's singing Lay Me Down (Sam Smith).  Her vocal is raw, backed by powerful emotional notes and the shadow of determination that brings tears to Katy's eyes.


Crystal is crying at the end. Luke says she finished unbelievably wonderful. She's been with her BF for 7 years, since middle school. Katy says her personality is fantastic, relatable. The song started down to earth but when she opened up, she was like, OMG, wasted on karaoke. There's something there. Lionel says it's refreshing to see all the things you want to see in an artist.


They decided to have some fun with the boyfriend, and while Crystal is still tearing, they bring in Simon.  Have you ever tried to do a long distance relationship, Katy asks? No, Simon says. Would you like to find a chapel in Savannah, Luke asks? I hope it's coming soon, Crystal laughs. I think a long distance moment would be good, Katy says. Especially when she's in Hollywood, Luke adds!


Katy, do you remember young love, Luke asks?  Honey, Katy replies, I don't remember young anything.


Lionel falls out of his chair before the next audition, 23yr old Kristyn Harris from McKinney, Texas, a trick rider on horseback, auditioning for American Idol is as far from home as she's ever been. After a discussion about udder-aid for milking cows, she sings I Want To Be A Cowboy Sweetheart (Patsy Montana) and the judges join for a swing dance as she yodels.


I love the yodeling, Katy says. Luke says she's an amazing one woman show with a great voice but yodeling won't bring in the masses. Katy says it's a unique delivery that should be preserved. Luke wants to see her have fun in Hollywood. Katy doesn't think it's AI stuff, so it's a no from her. Lionel says he wonders where that voice will fit.  It'll fit in Hollywood!


Back in a New York groove, 18yr old Johnny Brenns from St. Augustine, FL didn't tell his parents he was auditioning - they want him to get an education but music is his life. He makes me look short, Ryan says of the 6'5" man. Singing an original song called Blue Jeans. With a flock of sandy blond hair falling over one eye, he delivers a smitten performance that leaves the judges smiling.


Katy says he has a face like Chet Baker, very good looking, a sweet sexy thing going on. Luke says he has a smooth voice but can he dig in like Michael Buble. Johnny sings a little Buble and the judges encourage him to bring it. Luke says he's a yes. I have no doubt if I could work with you for another 18 months, Lionel says. Katy says 18yr old girls would eat this up.


No, Yes and Katy was blushing. It needs a lot of work, Katy says, but there's something there, so it's a yes.  Now you can call your momma and tell her when where you are.  Katy takes the phone and tells Johnny's mom, "Hi, it's Katy Perry."  It's obviously not, mom replies.  "Yes it is and there's something Johnny wants to tell you."  


Johnny tells his mom he's going to Hollywood but she says he's lying. So Johnny hands the phone to Lionel Ritchie. I know Lionel Ritchie's voice, Mom says, because I grew up in the 80's.  He starts singing Hello and Mom is finally convinced. Johnny carries the phone out of the audition so Ryan can also talk to his parents but they have already hung up.


Los Angeles, the city of broken dreams. Will 22yr old Ricky Manning from West Hollywood, CA turn his life around with his original song, LA Is Lonely?  His vocal is strong and soulful and the judges are clearly affected the emotional moment. That is so pretty, Katy cries, you're an exceptional songwriter and it reminded me of when I came to LA when I was just 17.


Lionel says from one songwriter to another, you're a songwriter. Luke says you're a big time Yes.  A yes from me, Katy says. You're going to Hollywood with 3 yes's, Lionel tells him.


Ricky's original song was a hit with the judges, but others missed the mark.  Montage of auditions which maybe should have covered other songs instead.  Luke is at a loss for words. The song is, um, I think it was, uh, Solid.


Also taking the risk of an original song is 26yr old Effie Passero from Modesto, CA. Sitting at the piano, she bangs out a powerful performance, her vocal piercing through air but with control and dynamics, causing the Katy's jaw to drop and all three judges to applaud. Lionel gets up to check for an extra volume knob. Why are you an assistant property manager, asks Katy!


Lionel says you have a secret weapon. Luke says you are a patriot missile, you have a presence, a look, a whole thing going on.  Your voice is like a command. Katy says we've been asking contestants all day if you have more range or stretch and while we don't have to spend more time with you now, we can't wait to spend more time with you. One-Two-Three, You're going to Hollywood!


Back in Savannah, 25yr old Tyler "Couger" Gordon from Athens, IL has waited a long time to become the next American Idol with a voice that covers 6-8 octaves of rock.  As he sings Grinder (Judas Priest), the judges aren't quite sure what to make of him. Lionel gets up to make sure his throat is OK. Katy says you're a cool guy, go with the flow. She says no. Luke says no. So close, Lionel says.


The final contestant of the day is Hickey, NC's Johnny White, 18, adopted at age 7 but hard to find a family. When he met his music teacher, he began to find his voice and believe in himself. It's not where you start in life, Lionel says, it's where you end up. Johnny is singing It's A Man's World (James Brown).


With no musical accompaniment, Johnny rips it up and blows the roof off with his powerful, intense vocal from deep within. Katy says he was singing like his life depended on it. That was the whole show in one song, Lionel says. Lionel asks for a second song and as Johnny sings, Lionel presses down on his shoulders from behind, whispering to bring it down.


Even if you sit on his shoulders, Lionel says of Johnny, you still have volume. Just wait to explode, he and Katy say, don't throw it away in the first verse. You want to make love to it but have a little foreplay first. Katy asks Lionel to explain a little more about foreplay. Luke says you're story and your big massive voice are inspiring. Katy calls him Top 10 material. 3 Yes votes!


Back in Savannah, contestants traveled from all over. 18yr old Caleb Hutchinson from Dallas, GA drove from a performance the night before with his parents to audition. He does a pretty good impression of Luke Bryan then sings If It Hadn't Been For Love (The SteelDrivers), delivering a strong, classic country performance with good range, timing, and feeling.


Love that, Lionel says, your voice is well above your age. Katy says you have a lovely voice, a nice, fast vibrato that is unusual in a male, and you seem really comfortable and centered. Luke says you have a big, big voice but don't let the fast vibrato, don't overdue it. Use it only when necessary. Luke is a Yes. Katy votes Yes. Lionel says you convinced me. Yes, you're going to Hollywood!


Shannon O'Hara is 17yrs old, from Moorseville, NC, a town with a lot of horses, cows and churches on every corner. As a nanny, she sings for her charges every day. All the music she's written was in the home she's lived in for the last 11 years. Singing When We Were Young (Adele), playing the piano. Her version is thick with feeling, strong and confident, powerful and attention-grabbing.


Katy applauds. Lionel says AI will have masses of people but with that voice, song selection, you could be a major threat. You had conviction, realism. Katy wondered whether she's tried Nashville and Shannon had to remind her she was in High School. Katy says you have a quality and are a strong minded woman. Luke says she's a songbird, I like it and am ready to vote.


Have you ever been to Hollywood, Luke asks Shannon? I've never been to California, she says, nowhere in the west.  Well I'm a big ole yes. I'm a yes, Katy adds. Lionel says as strong as you are, I'm not worried if you can handle Hollywood. You have a 3 Way Yes here and are going to Hollywood!


Back to LA, Lionel has been dropping names with every famous artist he's worked with over the years. Hoping to make her own story is 26yr old Amelia Harris, whose father, Jack Hammer, wrote famous songs from the 60's, including Great Balls of Fire (Jerry Lee Lewis) and Yakkity Yak Don't Talk Back (The Coasters), but she didn't meet him until she turned 16.


For many years, Amelia was angry but began getting closer to her father as he started struggling with dementia and now she feels his presence with her as she performs. With her personal guitarist, Nick, she sings Gimme Shelter (The Rolling Stones).  She delivers an R&B vocal, warming up as she gets started.


Lionel says you have a sultry voice, not a belter. Katy says she's surprised she's not already a major artist with a presence and a style, this is top 10 material right now. Luke calls her one of the most put together artists already. Lionel says there will be fire and rain in this competition and you'll have to go deep and find some avenues you don't know have. Get focused, Katy says. 3 Yes's!


With everything on the line, contestants pull out all the stops from flowers to chocolates to framed drawings to tattoos and organic cosmetics to earn the judges' favor.  28yr old Ryan Zamo from Pasadena, CA hopes to bring Katy to her knees with his rendition of Gravity (Sara Bareilles), but he gets flustered and rushes through a theatrical-style performance that loses the key.


Luke says skin care is your deal, buddy. After the audition, he gets a hug from his boyfriend.  I'll stick to jingles for skincare, he says.


Now it's time for double trouble from Malibu, CA in the forms of 17yr old twins Julio and Milo Sposato.  Ryan brings us the game Twintuition to see if twins can really read each others' minds. The kids get both questions right.  They enter the audition with saxophone and trumpet, accompanied by Pops their guitarist.  Katy reminds them that they'll be judged as individuals.


They sing Runaway Baby (Bruno Mars).  Julio's vocal is strong, confident, and then Milo comes in to play off him. Julio has the edgier voice, but Milo's voice is smooth as butter. Katy stops them to say it was dope. It's cool you're serious about music but you're also really fun and could be Instagram models. I'm totally in. Are there 2 number one spots available?


Lionel says I love that it's getting really good, you two could mess the equation up really good. Luke says when you were singing together, you were amazingly interesting for 17 and I think you'll have fun sharing a tour bus.  Let's do this, Katy says. You're going to Hollywood, all three say!


Les Greene is 27yrs old, originally from Baltimore, then moved to Guyena, Africa. What they lacked in food they made up in love. He loved to sing in the rain growing up. Now back in Baltimore, he wants to give his all and see where it goes. Lionel says he hasn't seen shoes like that since James Brown in 1968.  He is going to sing A Change Is Going To Come (Sam Cooke).


He starts off with a powerful vocal introduction to his voice, then lets loose with a blues clinic, wailing with intense emotion, ringing change from the rooftops.  The judges all applaud. Luke calls him a Ferrari, raw, rugged and full speed ahead. Lionel says I like the rawness, if I could just put a perm on it, calm it down a bit, we just might have something.


Katy says I love your personal style and presentation, but do you ever lose your voice?  Only after 10 shows in a row, he says. Luke says we need to polish you up a little bit, but I'm a big Yes.  I'm a yes too, Katy says. You have 3 Yes's, Lionel says, congratulations.  Come get your golden ticket, Katy says!


As we near the end of tonight's auditions, 19yr old Maddie Zahm from Boise, ID works with special ed kids but music has always been her passion. She gained 100lbs in a year as a result of a hormone imbalance disease and she lost all her confidence. Marcus, living with Downs Syndrome, turned that around for her, showing her what matters in life and giving her the confidence to do what she loves.


Lionel asks Maddie to bring Marcus in for the audition. Luke talks to him like he's a child. Katy takes his hand and leads him behind the judges' table. She sings Duel Rule (Dua Lipa). Katy's eyes open wide at her vocal and Luke gets excited. Lionel has a big grin. Marcus listens intently, as if to say I already knew she was that good.


Lionel now wants to hear a duet with Maddie and Marcus and they sing Firework (Katy Perry).  Marcus helps with the chorus and gives Maddie a smile and thanks the judges. Katy says she has a set of pipes on her. Lionel says she has a great set of pipes on her. Luke says push yourself, bring it down from deep and let it fly out.  All three judges say Yes, you're going to Hollywood!


The rest of Maddie's support comes running into the room and the Selfies with the judges begin.  Now Marcus has a big smile. And so does Maddie.

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This is how New Orleans welcomes you to their city, a city that knows how to put on a show. This city has got it all. Music is a way of life.  But can they sing?  This is American Idol!


We start with a Man in Black, goat farmer Trevor McBane, age 22, from Savannah, OK. At age 81, Nan is Trevor's primary farm hand. Sing Colder Weather (Zac Brown Band)), his voice wasn't baaaaaaad, a bit of ege and grit, his face red with emotion and his pushing out his voice.


Lionel loves the growl in his voice. Luke says he's not perfect but he's believable, raw in a good way. Not the right note, Lionel says, but the real note. Katy thinks he's got a vibe, you look like a cool musician, but you'll need great songs. We need to vote Lionel says. I like the goat farmer, Luke says, Yes for me. Katy agrees with a Yes.  I like to stay this as a group, Lionel says, You're Going To Hollywood!


Nashville. Music City. Everybody has a guitar and everybody can sing. Well, almost. The next to try is 20yr old Audriana Bolton from Portland, OR, trained in opera in high school where she's won state competitions. Singing Natural Woman (Aretha Franklin - feel better, Aretha!), her voice doesn't sound authentic and she's trying to sound gritty and powerful but it doesn't work.


Lionel asks her style of music and Audriana says Mariah Carey. She demonstrates a whistle tone that breaks glass.  Lionel says no. Katy says she doesn't know who she is as an artist. Luke says he's a no.  OMG, says Lionel after she leaves.


Next is Bree, who really loves cats. She doesn't have one but she really needs one.  We also meet Mr. Schimmelpfennic.  Another contestant brings in her pet Peekapoo.  Vocally, Luke says, thumbs down.  Bree asks if she should leave and Lionel applauds.  As the Peekapoo's owner starts to sing, the dog takes a poop.  She starts to sing again, and the dog squats for round 2.


She starts to sing for a third time and the dog is just crapping all over the audition room. Can I sing one more song to win you over, the unnamed woman asks? If you sing one more, Katy says, the dog will vomit on the stage!  You'll remember me at least. Oh we'll remember you, Lionel says, laughing.  Coco follows her out, having left her business all over the audition room floor.


A member of the production crew comes out with a rag and a can of spray cleaner. Was this on your job description, jokes Luke?  This is why I'm a cat guy, he replies.  


The family that plays together stays together. 18yr old Genavieve Linkowski from Goodrich, MI is the oldest of 10 children. She sings in the bathroom, but her dreams of singing stopped at age 12 when her mother had a health scare and become the mom for her siblings. Mom is now better and it's time for Genavieve's dreams to come true.  


Singing Won't Give Up (Jason Mraz), Genavieve's voice is confident and strong, as joyous as her smile as she plays the piano and performs. Katy says that was really impressive. Luke says you had magic in your voice, raw pop magic. Lionel says last time I saw someone make her first appearance like that, it was Celine Dione.  Big props. Katy says you have a lot of potential and tone.


Katy tells Genavieve she has to be open to being molded and coached. Katy says Yes. Lionel says Yes. Luke says you're going to go high in this thing, Yes!  Her nine siblings and parents come rushing in.  They're thanksgivings must be wild, Katy says.


The next contestant to audition has an out-of-tune guitar and Luke offers to tune it for him. He didn't make it to Hollywood.


Many of American Idol's past Idols have become idols to the current generation, but one girl from Checotah, home of Carrie Underwood (AI 2005), thinks she could be the next. Introduced at a 2009 concert, 19yr old Kenedee Rittenhouse she has pursued country music ever since.  Singing Told You So (Carrie Underwood), her voice is creamy smooth, feminine, powerful but soft when it needs to be.


Lionel says how can we develop you, send you to a higher hight, but the quality of your voice, what you have to offer is already right there. Katy says you're sweet as country pie, that dress made such an impact on me, you look like a star but we need more personality in your voice. Luke says you look like an American Idol and have the personality, but your voice isn't knocking me completely out of the park.


Katy asks her to Firework and Kenedee obliges, trying to through in as much personality as she can, though slightly out of key. Lionel says that is so hard to do that in front of the artist who does that all day long. Katy says she hit it. Luke says you're very on the fence but I'm going to give you a Yes. Lionel gives her a Yes. Katy says she's a whippersnapper.  She's going to Hollywood!


Back in New Orleans, 22yr old Brandon Elder, Arab, AL.  Adopted at 10 months old from a teenage mother who traded him for a car and entered the system. His mom gave him the life his birth mother felt she couldn't but then she got cancer and it took her in 2016. He turned to music, a cheap guitar, to deal with her illness.


That's a story that makes you stronger in life, Luke tells Brandon. Stronger and humble, Brandon says. He is singing an original song called Gone, written for his mom.  It's a sweet, sentimental song, his voice rough around the edges and down the middle but still easy and honest. The judges all bow their heads, listening attentively to the beautiful lyrics and vocal.


Luke tells Brandon he's honestly honored, the song is magically from the heart, 2 chords, he slayed it. Speaking on behalf of songwriters around the world, Lionel says, to express everything to where the first time you hear it you get it, from my heart, that was amazing. Songwriting is in your wheelhouse forever. Wearing your heart on your sleeve makes for great songwriting.


Lionel continues and says I am going to sit here for a moment and decide whether the singing part pushes you forward. Katy says you have a real genuineness about you that's hard to find. We have to help your voice out but there's something there. Lionel says you have a Yes from me. Katy says Yes from me. Luke says I loved your voice, I didn't see you coming. But now you're going, Katy says. To Hollywood!


It's Katy's birthday and Luke and Lionel give her a puppy party and a present: contestant Kenedee Rittenhouse's dress! Ryan wheels in a life size cake and inside, it's Nugget, Katy's puppy!


26yr old Cody Martin from Louisville, KY comes out singing a sincere and Stevie-Wonder sounding Happy Birthday to Katy. The judges don't even ask him to audition - they vote and he's going to Hollywood just on the strength of his Happy Birthday song!


To audition for Idol Season 16, you had to be born by June 11, 2002, the day our series premiered. And wouldn't you know it, we found an Idol Baby. Victoria McQueen, from East Point, GA, is 15 years and in 9th, no, 10th grade, and the youngest in the competition. This is a dream as she enters, followed by Ryan who reveals her special connection to the show.


Singing Don't You Worry About A Thing (Stevie Wonder), with personality flowing from her gangly body, Victoria was hitting it strong until she meets an unfortunate run. Katy says those notes are so hard to sing A Capella. Lionel says spot on the money, perfect notes. Luke says the way she hit those notes was by perfect design. You have a great voice and a gift to deliver it, he says.


There's something written in the Stars for you, Katy tells Victoria, You're going to Hollywood!


Brittney Holmes is 28yr old a vocal coach from Frisco, TX, inspired by her dad who taught her to sing while running on a treadmill to build performance stamina. Singing I Have Nothing (Whitney Houston), she starts out on the down low then brings it up for the chorus, a strong, contained power vocal demonstrating how to create drama with her instrument.


Very good, Lionel tells Brittney. I like your style, Katy says, but I need to feel, not just listen. Luke says you hit everything perfectly but you need to find what it takes to make people clean to you. You have the voice and the expression, Lionel says, but you need to find the trigger to fire it up.


The judges take a vote on Brittney. Luke says you're tricky, a great voice, but going the distance in Idol, I have to say no. Katy says I think you're a good singer, maybe we can push you a bit. I'm saying Yes. Lionel wonders if there's enough time to get her ready for the competition. If I could say throw everything you know about teaching and go for feeling.  I didn't make it, she tells her family, but I tried.


I am looking for contestants who come in here and just blow our socks off. We get a montage of contestants who do not emotionally stir the judges. The judges offer their constructive criticism and send them on their way.


26yr old Dominique Posey from Birmingham, AL has been interested in music since his dad played music and his mom sang. Singing A Song For You (Donny Hathaway) and blows his legal secretary career out of the water, giving Katy goosebumps.  Lionel says he handled that with care and ease. Luke says great job. Katy says legal secretary is not your purpose, beautiful music is your purpose. Heck Yes, Hell Yes, Hollywood Yes!


In New York, everyone has a story. Born in Anguilla in the Caribbean, Amalia Wattey, now 28, moved to Brooklyn, NY at age 17 to find music. She hopes channel the pain of a father lost to her into her journey, her story. Lionel is just jealous of her hair. Singing Make You Feel My Love (Bob Dylan). Her voice is beautifully unique, strong range and quiet power, kind of a jazzy soul vibe.


Lionel says your range, sound, uniqueness, all what we're looking for. There could be a fabulous career here. Katy says there's some more dynamics to weave into the tapestry of your voice. Luke says her soulfulness gave him chill bumps, cool with style. Lionel wants to see her in LA. Katy wants to see more. Luke tells her she's going to Hollywood!


Back in Nashville, 22yr old Daniel Ethridge comes from a Navy family. He picked up country music when his dad was stationed the Navy in Austin, TX. Singing Fire Away (Chris Stapleton), his vocal is intense and powerful with some falsetto runs. Katy asks him to sing something original so he sings a song he wrote for his little sister who wondered if he's famous yet.


As soft as sensitive as the first song was harsh and loud, Daniel's original has the judges enthralled. Why did you have to end, Luke says. You have a fun disposition, you talk great, sing great. Lionel says a little Jim Croche never hurt anybody, it's about story telling. You can go places. You had grit in that first son, Katy says, you may be a songwriter in Nashville but you're going to Hollywood!


The next audition is a sister act, but only one is singing, the other accompanying on the guitar. 17yr old Taryn Coccia, from Nashville by way of New Jersey, she sings at an airport cafe on the other side of security. Luke talks about his public service announcements at the airport, which Karen has heard many times.


Singing Masterpiece (Jessie J), Tayrn's energetic and entertaining with her performance and her vocal doesn't suffer with all the motion and an accent that is decidedly country though she's only been out of New Jersey for 4 years. Katy whispers in Lionel's ear. Do you all sing together, Lionel asks? The sister says she does also sing. Katy says I followed my older sister into singing, that's what sisters do.


Are you starting a sibling rivalry, Luke asks? We both play at the airport, the sister says. Katy asks her to sing something on her own. Payton Taylor (she has a name!) is 3 years her sister's senior (age 20 if you can't add), and sings Angel From Montgomery (John Prine). Katy can't believe her ears. Luke has a big smile on his face. Lionel is grinning.


Lionel asks if there are any more sisters or brothers, this could be a family affair! Just us, says Payton. Just fantastic, Lionel says, the talent is in the family. Two unique voices. Katy says one of you is pop, the other is a little bit country. Taryn is pop and Payton is country.


Luke wonders why Payton was silent? She says she wanted this to be Taryn's day, didn't want to step in the way of her sister. Luke says plans in the music business don't exist. Katy says Payton, if you want to be in the running...  I do, Payton quickly says. Lionel wants to vote.


Katy tells Payton her delivery is beautiful, believable, it's a yes. Lionel says the family unit is strong, it's a yes.  You're going to Hollywood, Luke tells Payton. Katy tells Taryn she has great presence but needs defining as a pop artist. Payton is more of an artist. I think Taryn could use a couple more years. Not yet, a no for me.  


Taryn's smile has become frozen as possibly her worst fears seem to be coming true - her sister is usurping her audition. Lionel says I'm excited to see you blossom, where it goes to. I'm a yes.  Luke? Taryn, Luke says...   Taryn comes out of the audition with her Golden Ticket.  To her family's surprise, so does Payton!  It's a Sister Act in Hollywood!


It's all about the hair for Samothias, 20yrs old from Wheaton, IL - when he's having a bad hair day, he has an off day. Lionel immediately asks him the story of the hair. Singing Tennessee Whiskey (Chris Stapeton),  Samothias plays the piano as he sings. Katy is swaying as he sings. Luke smiles and nods. He puts a soulful spin on it and Luke interrupts and asks if he can hit the high note in full voice. He makes an attempt a A Capella but doesn’t look happy with the results.


Luke says they are just testing him. Katy thinks he is good, but he needs to stretch it. Lionel says he reminds him of Prince. Luke says he gets a little too cute with the runs and Katy says he can take 20% of it out. Luke gives a yes and Katy agrees. Lionel wants him to go to Hollywood and drive them crazy.


Next, Marcio Donaldson comes in with his 6 months old son. He wanted to end the cycle in his family of children going into the system so he took his sister’s son when he was a week old to raise as his own. He sings Jealous (Labrinth) while Luke holds his son, Rashaad. He has a clear, intense voice as he sings.


Lionel says that was very good and quite moving. He says Marcio has range and Luke agrees that he is good. Lionel gets up to give Marcio a hug. Katy says his son loved it and Luke says he has a real voice and that’s what they are after. He says it’s not technically perfect, but it’s real. Katy says he’s a very sensitive, emotional, vulnerable soul and she loved that he sang with his feelings.


Lionel loved his delivery and who he is and he thinks it’s perfect for what they need. Luke votes yes. Katy votes absolutely, 100% yes and Lionel says it’s a yes from him. He goes to get his son and his golden ticket from Luke.

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