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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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Pop-up Choir joins with American Idol - they have 30 minutes to put on a surprise performance for Lionel Ritchie. Yes, it's LA!  Lionel gets out of his car and as he walks to the audition space, the pop-up choir sings "Hello".  This is American Idol!


Back in Pittsburgh, PA at 4:15am, another pop-up choir wakes up our first contestant, 17yr old Gabby Barrett, who is auditioning in Nashville.  Singing since age 9, she's always been daddy's girl.  Carrie Underwood is her idol and she sings Go Girl, clapping to keep the beat.


Katy asks Gabby to sing something else and she chooses Church Bells, also by Carrie Underwood. Katy asks for anything that's not Carrie. She offers Redneck Woman by Gretchen Wilson and Luke says to not do that. Lionel says we're looking for you, not the juke box, as Luke would way. Luke says when you try to sound country, you don't sound country.


Gabby rebounds with a church song, Jesus Is My Portion and Luke says that right there is you.  Lionel says your personality is in the church song, you elongated the notes, you took your time to breath, you were on fire. Katy says you have great stage presence and you called me love. Lionel says Yes. Luke says you have a great voice and have a chance, yes.  Katy says Yes from me.


Katy decides to punk Gabby's dad by bringing him inside because Gabby is so upset. Blase comes in and Katy tells Gabby to tell her dad why she's so upset.  Because she's going to Hollywood!  But Luke warns dad she has to stop impersonating other singers and find her own voice.


Katy Perry is either going to love or hate 22yr old Caitlen Lucia from Orange County, CA because she's singing one of her songs, I Kissed A Girl. Playing a self-amplified acoustic guitar, she throws her own spin into it and Katy is enthralled. Katy says she usually says that a contestant must at least sing her songs as good as she does but Caitlen did it better. She has a bigger motor than she's showing, though.


Lionel agrees, they can hear her cruising along and there's more there. Luke says the way you weave your vibrato with your falsetto, you have complete control of what you're doing. Lionel says absolutely yes. Luke says absolute yes. Lionel says an absolute yes.  You're going to Hollywood!


New Orleans and Long Live The King, thank you very much. Elvis Presley was the 6th cousin to our next contestant's papaw, 28yr old Amelia Presley from Saginaw, TX. Singing Heartbreak Hotel, the judges think she got the King's singing gene.  Same for 18yr old Billy Crunk from West Point, TN, and 20yr old Bailey Eubanks from Ashland, MS.


At age 10, 19yr old Drake Milligan from Fort Worth, TX saw an Elvis video and immediately began taking guitar and voice lessons to learn to perform like Elvis. He's even won some Elvis impersonation competitions. But he's a country boy at heart and country is his music. Drake's dad says it's OK if he doesn't want to go into the family junkyard business.


Nervous about singing as himself instead of as Elvis, Drake sings You Look So Good In Love (George Strait) and turns in an honest, sensitive vocal that compliments his "Hollywood" looks. Lionel says he likes it. Luke says he crushed it because he didn't sound like Elvis. I'm fired up, you're cowboy cool. You're comfortable in your skin and voice, Lionel says, the whole thing is a package.


Katy asks Drake what that low thing is when you start out with those notes. Lionel and Luke educate her, it's scoopin' the note. Katy says we should trim that out of there, it's a bit froggy. Luke says tell your buddies that nicknamed you "Hollywood" that you're going to Hollywood!


We get a montage of Katy eating snack after snack, which makes you wonder if someone tipped off the next contestant, who enters with a piping hot pizza. We don't know if it helped her audition be don't get to see it or her name.


24 Mylon Shamble from Bradenton, FL offers to sing Stand By Me (John Lennon) but Katy wonders if that really showcases her voice. Mylon says not necessarily. Luke tells her to start but not be alarmed if they stop her and ask her to sing something else. She delivers a nuanced, slightly jazzy take that demonstrates control and range when Luke stops her.


That was the best Stand By Me I've ever heard, Katy tells Mylon. The next time I stay stop, Luke says, keep going. He queues her back up and she picks back up singing. Katy and Luke are fanning themselves with golden tickets. But they sacrifice their comfort to give her one to take with her.


Nerves get a hold of this next montage of failed auditions, but 20yr old Lee Vasi from Fayetville, NC is trying to turn those nerves into excitement. Lionel Ritchie and the Commodores has been her inspiration growing up, singing Zoom at least 8 times a week, so Lionel gets up from behind the judges table to sing a duet with her. Outside, her parents cannot believe their daughter is singing with Lionel Ritchie.


Luke pulls out his phone to take a picture of Lee and Lionel singing Zoom together. Katy says that was really special, and you went for it! Luke asks if they can vote now, that was so awesome! But for her audition, she's singing Love Should Have Brought You Home (Tony Braxton).  Her breathless vocal carries an air of desperation and drama as she mixes range and runs and the song gets away from her.


Lionel stops Lee's audition. To be quite honest, you lost your pitch, you're not all together. Lee is crushed. Luke says when you started, I went OMG. But then I went OMG, what is she doing! Nerves, Lee says. You're a good performer, Katy says, you know you can bring it but there are still some things to learn. Luke says you're still young and figuring out your voice.


Lee's face wears her disappointment.  But, Luke tells her, if you will trust us and listen to us, and focus on your wheelhouse, what you're really good at, I think there's no doubt your not Top 10. Her smile returns. Lionel says when you went awry at the back end, I said nerves. You already had it won, Luke says, I'm a yes. I'm going to say Yes, says Katy. Yes, you're going to Hollywood, Lionel concludes!


Back to the Real Characters of LA, we get a montage of auditions more notable for their personalities than performances, starting with Tory N Teasley, 26, from Oakland, CA, singing Forget You (Cee Lo Green, explicit version). Luke falls out of his chair laughing.


19yr old Lucy Clearwater from Los Angeles, CA dedicates Baby Got Back (Sir Mix-a-Lot) to Luke.  20yr old Jarom Eubanks from Salt Lake City, UT uses his performance of Losing My Religion (R.E.M.) as form of angst therapy. Luke and Lionel both say No to the bling but Katy says yes because he's absolutely weird and wearing pajamas. You're cool, bro.


Michael J Woodard is 20yrs old from LA by way of Philadelphia, PA and hopes he doesn't make a fool of himself and keeps apologizing for saying, you know what I'm saying. You know what I'm saying? Singing Sins Of My Father (Tom Waits), his bubbly personality earns him a second chance with the judges and he does not disappoint with a soulful, impassioned performance that pours on the soft, subtle power.


Lionel tells Michael what he loves about him is he has absolutely no experience at all and you don't care, just singing from your heart. Katy says he has a beautiful bright eyed and bushy-tailed vibe with a soft, subtle tone, one of your aces. Luke asks how he does in front of a mic because he's moving around so much. But America will pull for you.  He's going to Hollywood with 3 Yes's!


If you want to be a superstar, you need to look the part. Katy wants some frickin' flare. Be careful what you wish for, Katy, as this next montage dares to put look before if not at the same level as performance. But personal expression of your inner soul is not enough if the sound doesn't match.


Sporting some incredible braids, 18yr old Brielle Rathburn from Johnson City, TN is a professional choreographer with 5 biological siblings and four more adopted from Africa, all tight as heck. She's learned how to dig in and adapt, a lesson her mom could not learn as she pulled away from the family, bringing them all closer to their dad.


Katy asks Brielle to teach Luke how to dance and asks her to teach him a hip thrust. Luke fakes a knee injury. Sing Gravity (Sara Bareilles), her vocal is as dialed back and sensitive as her hip thrust was energetic and pulsing. The judges fall so silent her family can hear from outside.


Lionel says I'm smiling, you are so in control of who you are at 18. You're just singing, Luke says, it looks natural, that's good stuff. Katy says you have a smoky, raspy voice that still has power. We should take a vote.  She exits the audition with a Golden Ticket!


25yr old Carly Moffa from Nashville by way of Williamstown, NJ is a self-described mess. Her mom has given her everything while fighting through MS and the song she is singing, I Let The Lion Out, is an original written for her. Dialing her bubbly personality way back, her vocal is quiet and folksy.


Katy tells Carly that was great. Carly says when she gets excited I have to let it out, I really like you! Luke jokes me not so much. Lionel says you have the whole package, vocal and personality. Luke says her voice as a lot of crazy, quirky personality. Katy says your folky, quirky is working for you.  Lionel and Katy says Yes and Luke calls Momma and Katy gives her the Golden Ticket to give to Carly!


22yr old Ayana Lawson's story starts long before Savannah. She goes by Rose, because Ayana means "beautiful flower" in Ethiopian. People don't get to places like this where she's from, in Harvey, IL. Her family has been homeless for 45 years, but she's always kept a smile on her face. She never had money for new things but you get used to it. Music is her life, passion and joy. She wants to make the most of this opportunity.


After getting a bench to sit on and a beautiful introduction on her acoustic guitar, she sings I Can't Make You Love Me (Georgia Michael), proving false the song's title with her simple, honest and dynamic vocal performance.  Katy cuts her off and Lionel says I want for you. The voice could be stronger, the experience and competence, check and check.


Luke says we have to judge you as if all the stuff that you're dealing with isn't going on. Your voice is good and will only get better as you deal with struggles in life and write about it. Katy says you have an incredibly lovely voice but others have more expertise and range, you need to develop a little more before you get into the ring. I would like some more polish in another year, Lionel says. It's a no.


28yr old Samuel Swanson moved from Pine Level, Alabama to Harlem, bringing farm country to New York City. Waking up to roosters every morning, he wanted to sing to more than animals and trees so he picked up and left with just $60 to his name. To break the cycle of working at the County, he's singing Let's Stay Together (Al Green).  


Sam's A Capella take Let's Stay Together is captivating, smooth, buttery and controlled.  Luke is glad he's not working for the County. He was nervous and when he learns to manage that. Velvet, Velvet and then layered with silky velvet. Katy says you have something there, do some breath work and do some control. Lionel drops Luther Vandross's name to the effortless of his vocal. All three together, Hollywood!


It's great news for Sam but for many idol hopefuls, the journey was over before it got started as we watch a series of No votes dashing contestants' dreams, including one who mistook American Idol for So You Think You Can Dance.  When asked to actually sing a song, the young man sings, "I'm Never Going To Dance Again..." from Careless Whisper (George Michael).  


Hoping to provide the judges with some inspiration is heavy metal rocker Damiano Scarfi (19) from Middleton, CT. People listen with their eyes more than their ears, so it starts with the hair and then what you wear. Singing More Than A Feeling (Boston), the judges unfortunately listened with their ears.  Luke tells him to leave the 80's behind. He gets 3 No votes.


Luke is trying to stream the Georgia Bulldog vs Florida Gators football game while watching auditions. The next contestant, unfortunately, is a Gator fan and is subjected to a Bulldog woof. We don't get to find out how he performed (but the Dogs won 42-7).


18yr old Jurnee, from Denver, CO, has been singing since 2 and writing music since 7. But being a home body, she would occasionally date guys just to prove to herself they were not her cup of tea. Jurnee was accepted by her family and she found and married her soul mate, a soldier in the Army who is set to deploy. She is singing to make her wife proud and hopefully inspire others to follow their dreams.


Singing Rise Up (Andra Day), her voice is big and easy flowing, tricked out with a few runs that show real volume and power during the chorus. Katy asks if that's her real name (yes). You're like a little bird singing so effortlessly, wildly talented, but you need to come to life in your body more.


Lionel says vocal command is everything to me, I'm amazed at your control over your runs. Luke says Yes. Katy says Yes. Lionel says Jurnee is now on a journey, as Luke sings Journey, because you're going to Hollywood!


That was the last audition in Savannah, GA but for Luke, the party's just getting started. He found out that there's a wedding a couple minutes away and the bride and groom are big fans so they've going to crash the wedding and have some fun.  


Adam Sanders auditioned during Season 12 at age 19 and made it through to the Top 50 before being eliminated by Randy Jackson. Truth of the matter, he wasn't ready.  After the season aired, he started getting trolled on social media, attacking his weight, his sexuality, his existence. It killed him inside and he disappeared from the world and began thinking they were right.


Though all the negativity, he found a way to rebuild himself as a stronger person and is ready to show America and the judges to show who he is now. Ada Vox, now 24, from San Antonio, TX makes her entrance wearing a glam hairdo, dress and high heeled shoes, leaving her faux fur shawl on the floor. Katy is speechless as she tries to lean Ada's story.


At Katy's instance, Luke pulls up Adam's picture from Season 12. I don't know what you're looking at, Ada says. No way, Katy says, welcome! She sings The House Of The Rising Sun (The Animals) and Lionel says so amazing. Luke asks what her range is and she shows how low she can go and how high she can trill.


Can you be a serious pop star, Katy asks Ada? I'm not here to play with anybody, Ada says, I'm to chase my dreams and make them come true. That's all I want to hear, Katy says. Lionel says you are owning your talent and who you are with an amazing amount of talent. Yes. Katy says Yes and get serious. Luke says I'm a Yes. She's going to Hollywood!


That was the last bit of gold for the season. Tomorrow night, we're off to Hollywood where the relief and celebrations of the auditions are replaced by the struggle and tears of Hollywood Week. Many earned their golden ticket but only one will become your next American Idol!

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The saying goes, luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation. The opportunity presented itself. Some singers were definitely prepared and rose to the challenge. Now, they will need their determination and all that luck to survive Hollywood Week.  169 enter.  24 Survive.  This is American Idol!


One by one, each contestant receiving a Golden Ticket will take the stage and perform for their lives. And then wait.  After each group of 10, the judges will deliberate and some who just arrived will be sent right back home.


The first line includes 16yr old Layla Spring from Marion, KY.  She just wants to make the people at home proud. Luke wants her to record his wake-up alarm. She sings Last Kiss (Pearl Jam).  That's how you kick it off, Kary shouts.  Also in the first line is 15yr old Alyssa Raghu from Orlando, FL, singing Wind Beneath My Wings (Bette Midler) without accompaniment and the audience is silently rapt.


Next up is Trevor McBane, 22, from Savanna, OK, singing Washed By The Water (NEEDTOBREATH). This is a real competition, Katy tells the other judges. 18yr old Caleb Lee Hutchinson from Dallas, GA sings Don't Close Your Eyes (Keith Whitley). He's coming for your job, Katy teases Luke.


After 10 artists perform, the judges deliberate. The line returns to the stage and and Katy has Trevor, Alyssa, Layla, and Caleb step forward.  They are through, the others (who we did not see) is not.


Leading off the next line is Noah Davis, 18, from Royal, AR, singing Mamma Knows Best (Jessie J). Next are the 17yr old Sposato twins. First is Milo, singing Jealous (Labrinth) and then Julian, singing Love's In Need Of Love Today (Stevie Wonder). After 7 more anonymous performances, the judges deliberate. Milo makes it through but Julian does not. The twins have been separated.


With high hopes, Kenedee Rittenhouse, Joshua Ward and Kristen Harris perform.  But Round of Hollywood Week dashes those hopes. A tearful Joshua promises he'll be back next year.  Some of the contestants try to make make conversation through humor but the judges were only interested in their singing.


And in 17yr Catie Turner's case, she was out not only for American Idol title, but also for some cute boys, especially 16yr old Zach Denofrio.  Zach says she's kind of a wild person and he admires her for her carefree nature. She sings Come Together (The Beatles) and then wishes Zach good luck. He croons Cry Me A River (Michael Buble). Plot twist, Katy says. Luke calls Catie's name but not Zach's. He's done.


Iowa's Maddie Poppe mesmerizes the crowd with Dreams (Brandi Carlile). Cade Foehner wails The Thrill Is Gone (B.B. King).  Katy says people are bringing their A game.  Both go through to the Group round.


Johnny Brenns convinced his parents he really did meet Katy and Lionel and his mom has joined him in Hollywood and tells Katy she believes her now, but his dad wanted something different for his son. Playing a keyboard, he sings Somebody Else (The 1975).  He's a little sneaky one, Luke says. I didn't know he could do that, his sister tells his mom.  Johnny is among 8 going through on his line.


While Jurnee performs You Don't Do It For Me Anymore (Demi Lovato), her wife is preparing to deploy with the military. Dennis Lorenzo sings Thinking Out Loud (Ed Sheeran) with his new bride and baby back home. Both will have to remain separated from their loved ones a little while longer.


Speaking of love, Luke whispers to Katy, here comes Trevor (Holmes). I'm going to treat everyone equally, Katy states. Except Trevor, Luke teases. His audition and Katy's subsequent kiss on the lips went viral and gave his GF a moment of jealousy. Katy, I'm watching you, the GF calls from the audience before he begins. He's not your fiancée, Katy barks back. He sings Riptide (Vance Joy). He makes it through.


David Francisco never thought he'd walk again let alone perform in Hollywood for American Idol. He tosses away his crutches as he walks on stage under his own power and sings Sunday Morning (Maroon 5). He is one of 3 in his line going home.  It's the end of the line.  Griffin Tucker, Cameron Theodos, and Daniel Ethridge also leave disappointed.


But with the agony of defeat, there also comes the thrill of Victory (this IS ABC after all), like Effie Passero, Ada Vox and Maddie Zahm, Marcio Donaldson, Laine Hardy, Garrett Jacobs and Mara Justine. But the celebrations might be short lived as the contestants enter the Group Round.

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Group round reveals character, who works well with others, how they deal with exhaustion, the music business.  They have to dance and harmonize but most importantly, they have to impress the judges together and individually. After a pep talk from the judges, it's the first group.


God's Diversity (Michael J Woodard, Thaddeus Jonson, Shannon O'Hara and Kourtney Smith) rehearsed well overnight but ran out of steam in the morning. The first group of the day, they sing Rather Be (Clean Bandit), four distinct and diverse voices coming together for church in a solid performance. Perfection is boring, Katy says, the ending was super original.  The unnamed 5th group member does not go through.


The show's vocal coach tells one team they have to learn the lyrics. If they forget a line, make something up. Hoping to stay afloat is The Gurope, featuring Marcio Donaldson and Maddie Zahm. Group rehearsal did not go well and each member goes their separate ways to learn the words. After a last minute run-though, ready or not, their time has come.


Singing Staying Alive (The Bee Gees), The Gurope, including Cesley Parrish and Samuel James, with both Samuel and Maddie ad libbing lines without losing the melody. Overall, however, the performance was a bit laid back. Lionel says you will have so many nights like this over your career and when you can make up a song on the fly like that, it's a great try. You pulled through your worst nightmare with a smile.


Lionel calls Cesley, Maddie and Marcio forward. They are going through. Samuel is going home.  Afterwards, Samuel agrees he did not sing very good. Marcio says we're all at a loss for words. Maddie cannot believe she made it though.


The group Taco! enters the stage with great enthusiasm, saying after they are done, the judges will want to tacobout them. Lionel reveals that the first name The Commodores selected was The Comodes, then they saw The Commodores and changed their mind. Catie Turner, Kyah Robinson, Alyssa Raghu and one other deliver a clean performance of La La La (Naughty Boy featuring Sam Smith), though Kyah looked unsure and kept her hand in her pocket.


Luke says the choreography wasn't very good and Kyah says she can't dance. The judges deliberate on Taco! and Katie, Alyssa, Victoria (the one not named before ) are all through; Kyah is going home.  


As the day wears on, exhaustion sets in and contestants are losing their voices. For Johnny White, the shine has worn off as his group gets lost in themselves, as Lionel says, and the words.  Rissa Watson also falls victim to the throat during the Group Round, as does Samuel Swanson.  


Milo Sposado and his group, Superdope Hotness, work out some last minute kinks as the Milo's mom weighs in on group's song choice. Milo was am late addition to the group and at the last minute, he wants to take his own road, telling the vocal director as they walk on stage that he wants to sing his verse A Capella. Luke notices and asks if they need a minute.


The performance of Love Yourself (Justin Bieber) begins with Aname' Rose, then Deonte Baker, then Dennis Lorenzo and William Casanova. When it's Milo's turn to take the lead, William says hold on, we have to make it sexy for one time. With the group singing harmony in the background, the piano drops out and Milo takes center stage and sings a personal solo to the judges, then the group finishes together.


Katy tells Superdope Hotness they are better separately than together but while she loved the change at the end, there were some fumbles with the notes. The judges confer and Luke calls names to step forward. They are all going through!


Up next to perform is DNA, with Ada Vox beat boxing and Kay Kay in the group, singing Want To Want Me (Jason Derulo). In their group, Gabby Barrett and Christina Jones stand out during their performance of Domino (Jessie J).  Jurnee and Dominique led their group in Love Yourself (Justin Bieber).  


Jurnee, Dominique and the other two group members make it into the Solo Round.  Maddie and Christina are the only two to make it from their group. Kay Kay and the anonymous male member make it through. Ada Vox tries to mask her disappointment. Back row, Luke teases, you're going through too!


The Soul 4's included Laine Hardy, who did not feel comfortable after his group's troubled rehearsals. He did not like the song the other girls wanted, and all he could do was try to fit in. The ladies are all Beliebers but Laine is decidedly not and struggled with the words. Dancing, choreography, Laine struggled too. The girls offer him encouragement but they did not rehearse well as a group.


Kaitlann Runnels leads off the third performance of Love Yourself (Justin Bieber) of the night, followed by Mia Desaris, and Juliana Madrid. Laine does not look comfortable in the background, but when his turn to take the lead, he pulls it together and brings the song home.


Afterwards, Laine asks the judges if they've ever seen on National Geographic when they show the heartbeat of a squirrel...  He shows his hands are still trembling even though it's over. The girls say how proud of him they are. Luke teases him about his buddies' reaction back home in Louisiana when they see him dance. Luke also calls out Kaitlann for her performance.


Luke calls out Mia, Julianna to step forward.  Back row, you're going through to the next round. Front row, this is the end for you.  The Soul 4's have become the Sole Twos.


It's 9:08pm and the last group, Don't Touch, is finally called to perform. Last night, Crystal Alicea struggled to keep up with the other more experienced girls in her group. They promise they have her as she breaks down in tears. Her inexperience continued to slow down the group during vocal rehearsal, leading to a late night.


Come morning, her group is confident that Crystal has regained her confidence. but she still loses the lyrics during the stage rehearsal. The vocal coach says it didn't sound as full as it did the night before. Don't Touch heads to the Ladies Room for one last rehearsal and the group started finally coming together.


Don't Touch explains to the judges that they are all very strong, young women, encouraging young girls to reclaim their minds and bodies and their hearts. Singing Me And My Broken Heart (Rixton), Britney Holmes leads off, Lee Vasi, Gabbii Jones and Crystal Alicea all deliver solid individual solos and group harmonies.


Katy says the choreography, synchronization, all a really good performance. They all have stardust on them, Katy says. But there are only room for 3 more people. Out of you girls, I need one to volunteer to not go on to the next round. The girls are all stunned, looking at each other to see if anyone is willing to step forward. Crystal volunteers.


Having offered to sacrifice herself for the other girls in her group, Crystal breaks down in tears. Oh sweetie, don't cry, Katy exclaims, you're all going through!  I was just trying to see your girl power!  You scared her to death, Lionel says.  Katy runs to the stage and pulls Crystal out from the group hug. This one, look at her heart. Round of applause for her heart.

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Tonight, Chris Harrison intones, there will be drama. There will be tears. Who will stay, and who will go home brokenhearted.  It's all coming up tonight on American Idol!  Ryan Seacrest approaches, holding a rose. I appreciate the effort, he says, but it's This is American Idol!


It's the Solo rounds during Hollywood Week, the last chance the Idol contestants may have to sing before the judges make the Final 24 cuts. They have one last piece of advice to ofer: Let Your Inner Voice Out.


The Solos offer the contestants their first opportunity to sing for the judges in front of a live band.  Without any feedback from the judges, the contestants will be split into four rooms. Only 50 will be selected to continue. It's time for the real stars to sign.


We start with Gabby Barrett, singing Ain't No Way (Aretha Franklin) and dedicating it to her father. The judges offer sounds of encouragement from the table, reacting to her emotional, powerful performance as she lets it all hang out. She showed up, the judges call out as she leaves the stage.  


Marcio Donaldson sang Aretha Franklin, dedicating (You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman to his baby son, substituting parent for woman. Lionel says you can only go to good for so long until it's time to go to great. Next up is Effie Passero, singing Tonight's The Night (Rod Stewart) and giving it her all, surprising all three judges with her power and control. She was telling the judges she's not going.  


Amelia Hammer Harris takes the stage, singing Hands To Myself (Selena Gomez), with heart and soul and a bit of sultriness. Rocker Cade Foehner thinks singing Feel It Still (Portugal, The Man) is right in his wheelhouse. Starting off light, he cranks it up to 11 and lets it lose. Luke says bad-ass. Lionel says bad boy. Take me back to '68 Lionel says. A little Robert Plant, Luke says.


Lionel says you can tell an original song will be a hit if by the end of the first verse, you're singing along with the second. Harper Grace thinks her original song, Rest In Peace, will show her creativity and artistry. Playing the piano, you can feel the angst in her vocal, a harsh indictment of the boy who done her wrong. I'd hate to be him after he hears this. She just did an original that didn't harm her, Luke says to Lionel and Katy.


Catie Turner has moved on from Zach Denofrio to Noah Davis for BFF duties. Noah performs his solo first, singing a soft, impassioned Piece By Piece (Kelly Clarkson), a strong and sensitive stage presence. Luke thinks he's lost some confidence. Katy says then he wasn't competing against anyone but himself.


Catie Turner is taking a risk with her original song, Pity, about a guy who told her the only place women belong is in the kitchen. Katy says don't forget, we love men of quality who believe in equality. For my tastes, the vocal is a little busy.  Strong message, weak execution. Catie says they don't realize I improvised that ending because I messed it up. She's unique, Luke says, and scary.


Both Singing Home (Chris Daughtry), Brandon Elder and Dennis Lorenzo have distinct voices but similarly difficult childhoods. Dennis's performance is soft and sensitive, while Brandon's voice is full of grit and edge. Both demonstrate heartfelt power, but is there Room for two versions of the same song?


On the advice of her father, Maddie Poppe is singing a song she wrote, called Don't Ever Let Your Children Grow Up. With dad in the audience, her performance is a bit folksy, a life ballad and the judges are enthralled with her lyrics. Katy needs a tissue. She reminds me of myself, she says of Maddie.


The struggle of Hollywood Week has left Michelle Susette struggling to find her voice. Singing Coming Out (Diana Ross), she cannot hit the notes during rehearsal. But she finds her inner voice for her dance party solo vocal, delivering a concert-quality performance and hitting the high note when she needed it. She still has enough voice afterwards to scream with joy.


Congo refugee Ron Bultongez benefited from a changed vote by Lionel during his initial audition, since when he's become guardian to his two younger brothers in addition to the father of his baby boy. The added responsibilities have given him new fire - if he goes through, they all go through. Luke likes his jacket. It was inspired by Kanye West, Ron tells him.


Singing Home (Phillip Phillips), a dope song about creating a home by the people who live in it. His vocal is honest, full of a live lived the hard way. Good job, Luke says midway. Not perfect, Katy says to Luke, who replies, but...  Ron says telling the judges the meaning behind the story made him more emotional than he expected. He beats out a few of them, Katy whispers to Luke & Lionel.


Next is Johnny Brenns, whose father does not support this diversion from college and career. His father's approval would mean the world to him. Singing I Lived (OneRepublic), his vocal has a nice balance of acrobatics and softness, but his power vocals get the better of him by the end and he bailed out of the climatic falsetto. He thinks he missed the cut.


Crystal Alicea's struggles with the lyrics during the Group Round has her nervous for the solo, where she is singing Set Fire To The Rain (Adele). Her vocal feels tentative until reaches the chorus and her personality comes out. Unfortunately, her nerves lets her down and she forgets some lyrics. She doesn't have the confidence, Katy and Lionel say to each other.


Deonte Baker is not lacking in confidence, hoping to make the judges forget about the other contestants. Singing Too Good At Goodbyes (Sam Smith), he shows off his range, his powerful, dramatic stage presence, but Katy turns around and signals for the monitor to be turned down.  He says afterwards that he may have pierced their ears but it was on pitch, so he'd be surprised to get a no.


Jurnee is next to take the stage, singing One Last Time (Ariana Grande). You go girl, Lionel says mid-performance and Jurnee recalls that Katy winked at her. But was it enough? Not the song for her, Katy says, huddled with Lionel and Luke. Katy tells Luke she's over Trevor Holmes before his performance of Home (Phillip Phillips), but tearfully reaches out for him wistfully as he walks away as Luke throws tissues at her.


Maddie Zahm has felt her confidence building throughout Hollywood Week as she sings Up To The Mountain (Patty Giffin) - I think - with a powerful, heartfelt vocal. Afterwards, she says that she went up an octave because Katy was signaling more. Afterwards, Katy doesn't know why she's holding back. But we know she's got it in there, Lionel says. Yes she does, Luke agrees.


Working the keyboards, Shannon O'Hara struggles to position the mic as the judges wait patiently. Also singing Up To The Mountain (Patty Griffin), her voice is soft and strong, though it cracked a little at the climax, but then she immediately dials it back for a sensitive finish. She says one note she tried to hold out longer but her voice wouldn't. This isn't easy, Luke sighs.


Genavieve Linkowski is singing Praying (Kesha) and she handles the vocal drama well but struggled a little with the lower register at the start. By the end, though, her breathless finale would make you forget that.  


Garrett Jacobs says Hollywood Week is like the Football Playoffs - you either win or go home. His voice is tired, his falsetto iffy and he's kind of freaking out. He can barely croak out his introduction of Wicked Game (Chris Isaak). But Garrett knows how to step up for the big play and delivers a strong performance, pushing the vocal to its limit. Lionel was in shock: It's a maybe.


Britney Holmes didn't make it to Hollywood on the strength of her audition, but a public vote on Dancing With The Stars, she got a second chance. She feels added pressure to meet America's expectations. Singing Dive (Ed Sheeran), the judges are feeling her powerful, soulful vocal and her dramatic trill run into a falsetto. Sing it, Lionel says, you brought it today. That's a turn-around, Luke says.


Fellow Don't Touch group member Gabbii Jones is next, singing Million Reasons (Lady Gaga), but her enunciation is not strong, her pitch feels off and at one point it feels like she's screeching the lyrics. She says her father is finally at a point where he's ready to support her dreams, but will that support include surviving Hollywood Week?


Thaddeus Johnson takes the risk of singing Katy Perry's Rise for his Solo performance. His goal is for her to think she wrote the song for him. His vocal is heavy with emotion and drama, strong, determined, intense and uplifting. Come on, Lionel encourages. Katy holds her hand up in support. Luke stares intently, enjoying the performance. Katy rises to her feet: That's how you do my song. Better than me.


Next is Kay Kay, singing Set Fire To The Rain (Adele). The judges applauded her spirit but to me the lyrics all ran together. Afterwards, Luke begins whistling the song. I'm a hell of a whistler, he says to audience laughter.


Laine Hardy takes the stage having survived a stressful Group Round. Singing Fire Away (Chris Stapleton), his vocal is soft and a bit rough and worn, straining but not giving in to the stress of the week. You can see on his face he knows it's not his best. Oh man, Katy says, he needs to loosen up. Either he ain't got it or his voice is gone, Luke says. He's got to be able to do a tour, Lionel says.


Caleb Lee Hutchinson has also struggled during Hollywood Week. Singing Your Man (Josh Turner), his low country voice pulls you in and the weeping steel guitars hug you tight. But he sounds a little strained in his upper register.  Feels real, Luke tells Katy and Lionel. At the end he throws in a one note falsetto and gets audience and judge applause. Get yourself a cowboy hat, Katy yells after him.


There is just one Solo performer remaining and Michael J Woodard is singing Maybe This Time (Cabaret) for its optimistic message. Wearing a white bandanna today, his voice is light and theatrical, slowly building and growing stronger and more powerful, bringing the judges to their feet. Katy turns away, she's so excited. OMG, Lionel cries at his climactic note. Who are you, Luke asks. Where did he come from, Katy wonders.


With the solo performances over, Michael joins the other 76 contestants in the holding room, anxiously awaiting the judges decision.  The judges start deliberating, dividing the contestants by group and measuring who redeemed themselves and who hurt their cause. Board by board, the debate the artists on the fence. In their hands the power to crush or give live to dreams.


Let's go be the bearer of good and bad news, Katy says. The judges divide the contestants into 3 rooms.  The contestants have no idea their fate and can only look around at the others to try to guess, did they make it or did they just come so close, only to have their hearts broken.


The judges have made their final decisions and selected the best of the best. In Room 1 is Catie Turner, Maddie Zahm and Dennis Lorenzo, who is second guessing his performance. In Room 2 are Deonte Baker, Gabbii Jones, Crystal Alicea and Brandon Elder, as well as Genavieve Linkowski.  Sweating it out in Room 3 are Ada Vox, Johnny Brenns, and Mara Justine.


Behind these doors, Ryan says, are the nervous contestants awaiting their fate. Katy, Lionel and Luke are on their way. We're about to find out whose dreams continue, and whose dreams are over. A production assistant calls for Thaddeus to leave Room 1 and the others are confused by his exit.  He is sent to Room 3, where the contestants are equally confused at his arrival.


Katy, Luke and Lionel enter Room 1. You guys have been going through the steps, Katy says, I don't like this part. Um, we hate delivering bad news. But you're not going to hear it tonight because you're going through!  The contestants explode in celebration. You worked for this, Lionel tells them, we're not giving you anything. Luke takes a selfie with the idols.


In Room 3, they can hear the other Room cheer and they know their odds of surviving Hollywood Week just went down. Room 2 doesn't know whether it's up or down. They are about to find out as the judges enter.


Lionel tells Room 2 a story of when he was 22, The Commodores went to a record company that said no after their audition. 40 years later, those same two guys gave him the Johnny Mercer award for a lifetime of songwriting and a successful career. It's just timing and so, today the answer for you is no. The time is just not now. Room 2 breaks into tears as the judges offer individual consoling and words of encouragement.  


And finally, the judges come to Room 3 where the contestants' thoughts are on all the sacrifices, the things they gave up for this chance, what may never be if they fail. Where are the judges right now, they wonder.  Luke opens the door and the room goes silent.


It's been a long week, Luke says with Katy and Lionel looking spent by his side. You've put in the time, Luke says, worked your butt off. Lionel adds I can't imagine what you went through. I didn't realize you had to do stuff like this, Luke says grimly, and I did not realize what I'm about to put my ears through because you are going through! Room 3 errupts in celebration.  The only person you are battling now, Lionel says, is you.  


Outside, anxious friends family members wait as the doors to Rooms 1 and 3 open and the Top 50 come rushing out.  With the trials of Hollywood Week behind them, the hard work is just about to begin. They must now perform in a showcase in front of a live audience before facing their final judgment.

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 In memoriam: Steven Bochco - 1943 - 2018


 This is it, our final 50 to the stage last night for the most important performance of their lives. One final chance to prove their worth. The judges observed from high in the balcony, looking to see which of the contestants had the skills to command a live audience. Now today, the pressure is on as they walk the walk to learn their fate.


 Now the fate of the contestants lies in the hands of these three judges: Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Ritchie. Was their final showcase performance enough to make it?  We're about to find out. There can be only one American Idol, Katy reminds us. This is the Final Judgment. This is American Idol!


 First to learn their fate is 16yr old Layla spring. She takes the stage for her live performance, milking the country in her then channeling her inner Tina Turner with Proud Mary. High energy, great stage presence, and a crowd pleasing power vocal to close it out. The judges all gave her a standing ovation but will they put her through to the Top 24?


 Luke tells Layla they wondered how she would accept their criticisms. Katy said she would have to speed up the vibrato and she did. You've learned, Luke says, but we're scared to send 16yr olds through.  But you're a 16yr old that's going through!  Work on your technical side, Katy advises, work on your voice.


 Next in the Hot Seat is 20yr old Michael Woodard. Last night, he scared the judges by performing You Ought To Know (Alanis Morrisette). Taking a more dramatic approach, his vocal is short and deep, flipping the song on its end and sending the judges into orbit. He's out of control, Lionel says to his co-judges.


 Now it's time for Michael Woodard's judgment. Katy feels his heart beating out of his chest. She leads him through some breathing exercises before all three judges jump up and say he's going through!  He hugs Katy and Lionel then jumps up into Luke's arms.  You have brought a new person to the table each time, Lionel says, and we love all of them.


 Hoping for a happy ending is 27yr old Katy crushing Trevor Holmes. For his showcase performance, he sings Slow Hands (Niall Horan). His vocal is slowed down, sweet and romantic. Katy says she's over him. Then he hits the chorus and she says maybe not.


 Now in the judgment seat, Katy asks how difficult it's been with the energy she's been throwing at him? Trevor says it's been an added challenge. You've navigated it OK but here's the deal, I need to see more from you, to feel and hear the sparkle in your eyes. I can't believe this, because, you're not going to go through. She rips up her note card and gives him a hug goodbye.


 Trevor's departure sends shock waves through the remaining contestants as the possibility of elimination becomes all too real. 17yr old Gabby Barrett has something to be worried about. Seeking to show diversity with What Can I Say (Carrie Underwood), Katy doesn't understand why she picked that song. She doesn't enunciate her vocal well but throws everything else she has into the performance. She finished strong, Luke says.


 It's judgment time for Gabby as she faces Katy, Luke and Lionel. Katy says yesterday was not grate for you until you saved your butt at the end and I'm not convinced. She's telling the truth, Luke confirms, but I think your next level and what the competition needs. You're in the Top 24! You're going to have good days and bad, Lionel tells her, you have to rise to the occasion.


 Thadeus Johnson has been here before in Season 9 and is hoping time has aged him well. Singing Hate On Me (Jill Scott) for his showcase performance, he owns the stage, owns the audience and the only question is whether he owns the judges. His vocal is loud, energetic, entertaining and bringing the heat to the competition. Katy says he's a great singer but maybe needs more grit.


 Thadeus takes the chair and Lionel says there are levels of talent. So much talent that we have to spread through 24 slots. We all think now is the right time. And in this case, my friend, now is not the right time. You're a gifted singer and performer. You'll rise, Katy tells the tearing man. His family is stunned, as are the other waiting contestants.


 Next to learn her fate is 22yr old Michelle Susett, performing 24K Magic (Bruno Mars) for her showcase. She has a Janet Jackson vibe as she slinks around the stage with her high energy vocal. Lionel tells her he has good and bad news. The bad news is they are not letting her go home. You can probably figure out the good news. Congratulations, you're going through!


 Lionel tells 26yr old Dominque there's always room to grow. Luke tells 22yr old Trevor McBane to calm himself and get some breaths because you have a serious looking presence [on stage].  Lionel tells 20yr old Maddie Poppe that everyone's come to the table.  To 21yr old Ron Bultongez, Katy says I put my frickin' foot down for you.


 And you're going through, Katy says to 15yr old Alyssa Raghu. And so are Dominque, Trevor, Maddie and Ron!  


 17yr old Catie Turner is scared but doesn't want to show her family or everyone will be crying. For her showcase, she leaves the originals at home and performs Bad Romance (Lady GaGa). Oh no, Lionel says. Oh yeah, Katy says. It's an amazing performance totally unexpected from this contestant who constantly defies expectations. She was letting go and loving it. Luke called it a star performance but Katy disagreed.


 Catie thinks if the risk didn't pay off, she had fun doing it anyway. But by morning, the performance high had turned into a personal low as she watched other idols potentially walk off with her spot. She wants it here and feels so wanted here. She marches confidently into the Judgment Room saying that is a heavy door and she has no upper strength. Plopping into the chair, she says, "Let's talk business."


 Katy asks if Catie is ready and she says honestly, I don't know, taking the judges by surprise. She's never done anything like this before but is having the time of her life. Before she came here, she was so scared of rejection but after Hollywood Week, who cares. I've grown so much! You know it's just a big land of weirdos, Katy says. And I'm the biggest weirdo of them all, Catie replies.


 Well, Katy tells Catie, winking, you've met your match. Listen, yesterday was shaky. You're learning a lot and you've learned a lot. And unfortunately, I don't think you're ready to hear this. The light has drained from Catie's face. She exits the Judgment room in tears and collapses to the floor.


 Katy tells Catie she doesn't think she's ready to hear what she has to say, as Luke looks up at the rafters and Lionel tries to stifle a smile. You're one step closer to becoming the next American Idol!  She's stunned and falls out of the chair. You scared me!  You think this is scary, Katy says, wait to you meet the real world.


 Sadly, not everyone's story can end in happy tears. We had to say goodbye to 17yr old Milo Sposato, 27yr old Les Greene, 28yr old Britney Holmes, 26yr old William Casanova.


 18yr old Jurnee hopes her inspirational journey continues. Her wife was able to be in the audience as she sang her showcase performance of Never Enough (The Greatest Showman). She is elegant, confident, and soulful in her vocal as the audience is enthralled.  Her wife sobs with pride in the audience as she extracts every bit of emotion out of the song.


 Sitting in judgment, Katy can't believe her mature voice comes out of an 18 yr old but she has to own it even more. Your mom knew you would be going on a journey and the journey continues in the Top 24!  Her wife is waiting to celebrate after her triumphant return to the training room.


 17yr old Shannon O'Hara has the weight of her family on her shoulders as she takes a risk, opening Unconditionally (Katy Perry) without the band for her showcase. Her vocal is light and tender and brings Katy to tears. The emotion drips off each quaking note.


 Facing the judges the next day, Katy tells Shannon she's a secret spiritual ninja.  And you're going to the Top 24!  


 The number of open spots are dwindling as Ryan calls 18yr old Kay Kay to seek her fate. Singing Brokenhearted (Karmin) for her showcase, she was working the crowd as hard as her performance.  The competition has been fierce, Lionel tells her, you're going to the next round!


 Katy tells 26yr old Amelia Hammer Harris that sometimes people let you be beautiful and smart, but trust and believe, because you have it and you're going through! To 21yr old Brandon Diaz, Katy says there are a few that are competing for your spot, but those people have already been sent home so you're going through!  


 The wait for the remaining contests becomes more agonizing with each newly minted member of the Top 24. 18yr old Noah Davis is proud of what he did and just wants to either way. He never realized how big of a dream this was until he began to realize he could achieve it. Back behind the piano for his showcase, he sings You And I (Lady Gaga) with joy and verb.


 When Noah picks up the microphone to walk around the piano, he begins to lose pitch and Katy cringes. While he wanted to show he could work the stage, he demonstrated just the opposite. We told him to stay on the piano, Luke says.


 Facing judgment the next day, Katy says we loved you with the piano. I'm sure you look around at the others with their strengths, and compare them to you. We love you but you have to know who you are. But unfortunately there are so many competing for your spot. You need to step into your power.


 Noah Davis nervously awaits his fate as Katy warns him so many others are competing for his spot. I think the journey must continue, but it's not going to be here.  He tries to hide his disappointment as Katy continues with words of support and encourages him to return next year.  Ever the optimist, Noah tells Ryan he'll see him next year.


 We also say goodbye to 16yr old Harper Grace. You need some time to grow so we're not putting you through, Katy says.  And 25yr old Carly Moffa. It's hard to say this to you, Katy says, but you're not going through.  And to 20yr old Samothias, Luke says I hope this was an incredible, fun experience for you.  To 20yr old Lee Vasi, Lionel says sometimes you nailed it, and sometimes I wondered who you were.


 And our very own Idol baby, 15yr old Victoria McQueen. You're so young, Katy tells the crying high schooler, you're still finding your identity. This is just a learning experience she says, I'm not going to stop.


 For the second time in his career, Ryan calls 24yr old Adam Sanders to seek blessing from the judges, hoping Season 12 history does not repeat itself. Auditioning and performing in drag as Ada Vox, she showcases Creep (Radiohead).  The judges aren't sure as she comes to the stage. If she turns too many [vocal] tricks, Katy warns, the tricks are going to turn on her.


 Dressed in elegant read, Ada plays with her hair as she slowly, simply and disturbingly delivers a bombshell performance picks up the audience and carries them places they never thought possible, including an incredibly perfect and perfectly controlled run that sent shivers up your spine and left the judges on their feet.


 Ada having done her job, she decides it is time to let the judges meet Adam and see who he is. Lionel's jaw drops, Luke has a look of amazement and Katy just says, Hello. This is me, Adam declares. Katy shakes his hand. Unbelievable, is all Luke and Lionel can say.


 You have taken us on a roller coaster ride, Lionel tells Adam, it took a lot of guts to do this the way you're doing it, and I don't know where it's going to go, but I am going to tell you how proud I am of you. Katy asks why Adam today and not Ada? I wanted to face you as myself, without the guard, he says, to show you who I truly am.


 Are you good enough to compete as Adam, Katy asks him? 100%, he says, my talent speaks for itself. You are so beautiful inside and out, she tell him. I'm glad you showed up in your true form, Lionel says, because I want to tell your true self that the Dynamic Duo will be going forward! You're now in the Class of 24!


 It's the Final Judgment for 18 yr old Johnny Brenns. For his Showcase performance, he sang not only to his mother but his brother and disapproving father (and whole family) also showed up to hear him sing Lay Me Down (Sam Smith). Dressed up like a preppy 50's greaser, working the stage, he's making the young girls cry as he oozes romance and sensuality, not to mention a solid vocal performance.


 Katy says she's going to cry because his whole family is supporting him now. He can't tell us how he feels because he is mauled by his family. Johnny's dad says Johnny did all this on the quiet and he was blown away. Whatever the judges decide, Dad says, he's a winner in my eyes.


 Johnny appreciates his family's support, but it's the judges opinion that matters.  Luke says he's delivered some crazy good moments and moments he's struggled. He has the star qualities and we're just trying to pull them out of ya. Big smiles, Ryan says as Johnny bolts out of the judgment room. He's made it through!  


 15yr old Mara Justine is the youngest in the competition, and goes to meet the judges with glitter fingers crossed. Singing Something's Got A Hold On Me (Etta James), she hits the stage with the abandon of a carefree teenager with the power house voice of a seasoned pro, owning the stage with her attitude and her body, having the time of her life and giving the audience the time of theirs.


 She's good, Lionel whispers to the other two judges, she surprised me. Katy says she needs to tone it down. The next day, Mara faces her future. Lionel says he doesn't have to ask who she is. Luke says they don't want to change the fire and energy she brings. I have a style, she asks? Yes, Lionel says, you have a style.


 But your developing some bad habits, Katy warns Mara. You have beautiful hair - don't flip it but maybe once in a song. Your voice is enough, Luke says, you don't have to do anything else. Too much frosting on this beautiful cake, Katy says. I want you to take this and everything we're saying to you as a learning experience.


 Mara has tears running down her cheeks as she senses the judges are sending her home. After all, with her glitter fingernails, she's the youngest in the competition. And, Katy adds, as an opportunity to go to the Top 24!


 It's now nearly 12 hours since the day began, and 18yr old Caleb Lee Hutchinson, 17yr old Laine Hardy and 17 Garrett Jacobs have been thrust into a life very different from the one they've known. For his showcase, Caleb delivers a solid performance of I Was Wrong (Chris Stapleton). We have a show, Lionel tells Katy and Luke as Caleb opens up and lets it all lose.


 The next evening, Luke notes Caleb has some miles on his boots. Lionel tells him his voice is his identity. Katy says we're always looking for the heart of America and you represent, but be careful to to not turn into a one-dimensional character. I'm excited to tell you you're still in, buddy, Luke says, you're going through. You're Top 24! It only gets tougher.


 For Laine and Garrett, the moment of truth is at hand. Their talent was tested, but their new friendship was not. Both of you will go up, Ryan tells them in an otherwise empty waiting room, both of you will stand that line, and both of you will stand in front of the judges and they'll give you the results. Good luck to both of you.


 Garrett sings Knock On Wood (Otis Redding), showing off his dance moves discovered during Hollywood Week.  Luke laughs, he's got to stop the dancing. In the audience is Garrett's Honey, watching him perform on American Idol. He was the sexiest thing out there, she says.  He just hopes it was enough. Lionel tells the other judges he respects that Garrett went outside his comfort zone.


 For Laine, his showcase performance of The Ballad Of Curtis Loew (Lynyrd Skynrd) reminds him of driving his truck at home. His solid, gritty voice, his baby faced smile, gave the audience what they wanted but not all the the judges were not as enthused. Nice job, Luke called out, applauding.


 Laine and Garrett take their seats before the judges. Long day, Luke asks?  Yes, Sir, Laine says ever polite. Both of you are from Louisiana, Luke says, and got partnered up again against each other. Hopefully you're friendly, Katy jokes. You both blew us away in your first auditions, Luke says. Laine struggled outside of his element, and Garrett's dancing could use a little bit of oil.


 The bottom line, Luke tells Laine and Garrett, is we've been doing this all day and it's awful. It's really hard, Katy confirms. But it comes down to this, Luke says, getting down to business.  Garrett, you're going through to the next round. Laine, buddy, this is the end of the road for you.  OK, Laine says simply.


 We don't know if we're making a mistake, Luke tells Laine and Garrett, but the only mistake if for you two to stop your path. I hope you've become buddies and lift each other up. Outside, Garrett's Honey cheers while Laine's parents comfort his disappointment. I'm fine, he insists.


 Cade Foehner has rocked Hollywood Week and for his showcase performance, he sings No Good (Kaleo) and the look of shock on Katy's face is priceless. The hip thrusting, the coarseness of the vocal, the electric guitar solo is all rock'n'roll to me. When he's done, he just walks off. That's a bad boy, Lionel says.


 Will his walk to face the judges be a stairway to heaven or a highway to hell? Lionel says you have the potential to rock'n'roll to the end. We're keeping you around, OK? Are you serious? You're in the Big 24!


 and then there were four: 19yr old Maddie Zahm's showcase of What About Us (Pink) is intense and angry, and despite sounding like she was out of breath, she still summoned the strength for huge power notes. That was a great song choice and a shaky performance, Katy says. But she's never shown us that top gear before, Luke says. Katy says she did in her first audition.


 26yr old Effie Passero's showcase song choice is The Dance (Garth Brookes), a song her mom has sung to her since she was 2yrs old. Honest and dripping with emotion, she quickly wins over the audience with her no sensitive no frills performance. She didn't come out and belt, Luke observes. A mega talent, Katy says, but she has to kill it every time and that was not a kill.


 Katy tells Effie she is an amazing, brilliant singer, with a new confidence. But America won't vote for you based on that last performance. You have to sing like it's your last time to sing every time. Lionel tells Maddie that her potential is amazing. Katy says your voice is undeniable and I want to hear the next gear. Lionel says I either pull you go or put you through to learn as you go.


 Lionel tells Maddie, looking at you now, I think we've made the right decision. Effie looks distraught as she tells her family that she made it. We have 24 slots, Lionel tells Maddie, and unfortunately you're not going to be one of the 24. Effie is crushed because she knows that her making it means Maddie did not. It's a slow walk back to the warm arms of family.


 There are only 2 remaining: Marcio Donaldson and Dennis Lorenzo. Ryan sends both men in together to face the judges. Both have dealt with hard lives and both are looking to make better lives for their infant sons. Marcio performs If You Really Love Me (Stevie Wonder) and works the stage with a strong vocal and sweet falsetto. He wasn't playin' around.


 Dennis takes a different approach, with A Song For You (Donny Hathaway), slow and sensitive and sappy, belting out his own take on the classic ballad. Both men had their babies in the audience for the first time. The men are roommates, they're friends, and they're both seeking the final spot in the Top 24.


 Katy tells Dennis that they were so proud the way he did Home. She tells Marcio he was so fragile when he came in but every time he hits the stage he builds confidence. Lionel says your both men living up to your responsibilities, and you have talents you're taking as far as you can. Luke says your laying it on the line. But unfortunately, Katy says, there is only one American Idol.


 How do we do with this, Lionel asks? There are two spots left, Katy says, and you're taking both of them! Dennis stunned and Marcio breaks down in tears. You're both going through, Katy says, you are both stars!


 And with that double dose of drama, we reach the end of the Final Judgment and have your Top 24. And one of them will be your next American Idol!


 So which of your Top 24 is your pick to go all the way: Layla Spring, Michael Woodard, Gabby Barrett, Michelle Sussett, Dominique Posey, Trevor McBane, Maddie Pope, Ron Bultongez, Alyssa Raghu, Catie Turner, Jurnee Siani, Shannon O'Hara, Kay Kay, Amelia Harris, Brandon Diaz, Adam Sanders/Ada Vox, Jonny Brenns, Mara Justine, Celeb Lee Hutchinson, Garrett Jacobs, Cade Foehner, Effie passero, Marcio Donaldson and Denis Lorenzo

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