ABC’s American Idol continued its two-night premiere event Monday with two more hours of auditions, and judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie were handing out golden tickets like they were going out of style. It’s possible they said no to hundreds of singers, but in two hours, we saw were exactly four “No’s” — and Lionel turned into a hugging machine.
Because there were so many “yeses,” here’s a look at just some of the standouts:
David Francisco, 25, from Nashville, TN: He moved to Music City to pursue his dreams, but was hit by a car and paralyzed from the waist down. After much therapy and struggling, he can now walk with crutches. He was accompanied by his fiancee Christie, who has stood by him through it all, in the audition room. After he sang Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely,” Lionel hugged him, Katy cried, and all three judges told him he was going to Hollywood.
Rissa Watson, 17, from Apache, OK: Rissa’s from a tiny town where everyone knows everyone. She’s next in line to inherit her family’s furniture store, but won’t have to if she can make it as a singer. After she sang Adele’s “When We Were Young,” Katy said she had “full body chills,” and Luke compared her voice to an angel’s. She’s going to Hollywood.
Thaddeus Johnson, from Oklahoma City, OK: He made it to Hollywood during Season 9 in 2010, but didn’t go any further. At one point, he weighed 390 pounds and considered taking his own life, but instead, he turned himself around and lost 162 pounds and counting. After he sang “Don’t You Worry Child” by Swedish House Mafia, all three judges gave him a return trip to Hollywood, and Lionel hugged him.
Lane Hardy, 17, Livingston, LA: A true country boy, he sang “Hurricane” by Band of Heathens and won the judges over with his soulful, gritty style. “I think if you ain’t careful, you might win American Idol,” raved Luke.
Trevor Holmes, 27, Thousand Oaks, CA: A construction worker who’s had a crush on Katy Perry for years, he bowled the judges over as soon as he walked in: Luke immediately dubbed him a “dreamboat” while Katy said “You’re so hot…are you engaged?” Trevor sang Brett Young’s “In Case You Didn’t Know,” changing the lyrics to “In case you didn’t know/Katy, I’m crazy ’bout you.” Katy and Treavor did some major flirting, but alas, he has a girlfriend…and a golden ticket.
Brandon Diaz, 21, Ashburn, VA: His father emigrated to Cuba as a child and taught Brandon everything he knows about singing. Brandon just wants to make his dad proud and he did, scoring a golden ticket after singing “Unaware” by Allen Stone. Katy declared he could be “top 10,” and called him “the best male singer we’ve seen so far.”
Michelle Sussett, 22, Miami, FL: Originally from Venezuela, the super-energetic singer performed a song in Spanish and then turned some music on and forced the judges to get up and dance with her. They complied, but Katy slipped and fell. Her already-very-short dress got hiked up so far that the producers covered her lower half with an American Idol censorship graphic. Michelle still got a ticket to Hollywood, though.
William Casanova, 26, Washington, DC: A woman’s shoe salesman, he charmed the judges with his smooth, flirtatious personality, and earned a golden ticket by singing Donny Hathaway’s “A Song For You.” But it was his day job that had the judges fascinated. “What do you do with the stinky feet?” asked Luke. “What if they’re missing a toe?” inquired Katy. Eventually, she stuck out her foot, put the golden ticket between her toes and made William come and take it.
Gabbii Jones, 20, St. Louis, MO: Her father has given her 30 days to make her dreams of stardom come true, or else she’s got to get a job. Luckily, her somewhat over-the-top rendition of Ariana Grande’s “Dangerous Woman” was enough to convince the judges to save her from a life of drudgery and send her to Hollywood. And Lionel hugged her. The producers liked her personality enough to put her in an interstitial Macy’s commercial with Ryan Seacrest.
And some of the no’s…
Misha Gontar, 26, Marengo, IL: Originally from the Ukraine, Misha sang a super-catchy but incredibly weird song that featured an “oo-ee-oh/bow bow bow” chant and speed-rapping in what we assume was Ukranian. He had the judges singing along with him, but there was no ticket for him.
Autumn Wood, 27, Katy, TX: The library clerk came in dolled up in what Katy described as “glamazon” style, but her version of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” was bizarre: She sounded like Cher with a bad cold. It was a no.
American Idol continues next Sunday night on ABC with more auditions.
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