'American Idol': Auditions Conclude

Hollywood Week will kick off Sunday night.
ABC/Josh Vertucci
'American Idol'

Monday night marked the final auditions episode for ABC's American Idol, with judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie handing out the last of the golden tickets to Hollywood.

Jade Flores was up first, singing “Strawberry Wine” by Deana Carter and accompanying herself on the guitar in a solid country audition. She was particularly starstruck by Perry and thought they had a “spiritual, rebellious connection.” Bryan was impressed by her country singing. She got three yeses.

The 18-year-old singer Jakob O’Brien arrived to the audition room wearing an American flag and sang an original song about America. “I wrote it because I love my country,” he said. It was a terrible audition, but Bryan said yes for fun so he could sign O’Brien’s guitar. However, he got rejections from the other two judges and did not advance.

Christiaan Padavan followed with a performance of “Vienna” by Billy Joel, and he had a throwback voice with a bit of a crooner vibe. It was a different sound, and he proved sure of himself as a singer. They gave him three yeses, and then for fun after, he sang a duet of “Toxic” with his very nervous girlfriend. They also had Padavan sing “New York, New York,” giving him quite a lot of screentime.

Singing “Lay Me Down” by Sam Smith, Ryan Hammond was up next. He had a powerful voice, although his pitch wasn’t always perfect, seemingly affected by nerves. Still, his tone was gorgeous, and Richie said he thought he made the song his own. The judges thought he definitely needed some work and fine-tuning, but they sent him to Hollywood.

Chloe Channell, whose mentor is country singer Billy Dean, sang “Stupid Boy” by Keith Urban, bringing along Dean to play guitar for her. Channell had impressive technical skills and gave a great country performance. She soared through with three yeses.

It was another unanimous golden ticket for Emma Kleinberg, who sang “American Privilege” by Allen Stone. She also had some pitch issues as a result of apparent nerves, but she showed a lot of potential, and the judges liked what they heard. She advanced to Hollywood.

Zebulon Spencer showed off his vocal and clogging skills in his audition. He sang “Porch Swing Angel” by Muscadine Bloodline. He had a nice country twang, and he got three yeses.

An artist named Jorgie brought his bandmates along with him into the audition room and kicked things off with an over-the-top impression of Perry. He sang an original song called “Heaven,” and he had a really strong voice, giving one of the standout auditions of the night. He had originality and a lot of personality. The judges were really surprised by him and gave him a golden ticket.

He was followed by Nick Merico, who put his own spins on “Back to Black” by Amy Winehouse, accompanying himself on the piano and showing off a really solid voice laced with emotion. Perry said his voice will need work but seemed smitten with him. He got three yeses.

Next up was a stunt audition. A contestant named Lady Mapo showed up in goth makeup and attire, and it turned out to actually be former winner Maddie Poppe in a disguise.

Last year’s runner-up Caleb Lee Hutchinson also returned to the show and pretended like he was going to audition again. In actuality, he was there to support his friend, a fireman named Jared Sanders who sang “The Fireman.” His voice sounded too affected, though, and he just didn’t seem like a good fit for the show. Richie said yes, but the other judges said no, so he did not advance.

For the final audition of the night, Jackson Gillies shared his story of struggling with many health issues in his life. He played guitar and sang “Make It Rain” by Foy Vance. It was a moving and gorgeous performance, and his runs were impressive. The judges were moved. “There are a lot of male singers that can sing really good in this competition, so I want you to really dig in every time,” Perry said. He got a golden ticket to Hollywood.

Hollywood Week will commence Sunday night.