'American Idol': Third Night of Auditions Brings Several New Country Singers

Once again, there were very few rejections aired.
Craig Sjodin/ABC
From left: Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie, Ryan Seacrest amd Katy Perry

ABC's American Idol continued its auditions on Sunday night, with judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie handing out golden tickets to the dreaded Hollywood Week, where the competition will kick into high gear. Host Ryan Seacrest also announced tonight that Bobby Bones will be returning to the show as a mentor during Hollywood Week.

The first contestant to audition was Ashton Gill, who sang “Broken Halos” by Chris Stapleton. She came to the auditions with Laine Hardy, who had made it to Hollywood Week last season but got cut before the Top 24. Hardy played guitar for Gill during her audition and allegedly had no intention of re-auditioning himself. Gill turned out to be a strong country singer, and all three judges said yes.

Perry unsurprisingly also asked Hardy to sing a song himself, so he did “The Weight” by The Band. The judges were impressed by his improvements, and they offered him a golden ticket, too, noting that he was a lot more confident now.

Next up was Austin Michael Robinson, yet another country singer. He sang “Your Man” by Josh Turner, playing guitar and sporting a cowboy hat and lasso rope for the full country experience. Perry thought he needed more work before he could be ready for the competition, but he got two yeses from Bryan and Richie, so Robinson still advanced to Hollywood.

Jacob Puliti next did “This Is How We Do It” for his audition, putting an acoustic spin on the song that showcased some originality. He got Perry dancing and Bryan praising his voice. All three judges said yes.

After a montage of bad auditions, Shawn Robinson sang “Who Are You” by Jessie J. He had a bright tone and warm energy. Richie called his voice butter. “There’s joy in you,” Perry said. He got three yeses.

Nate Walker, who grew up singing in church, sang “Say Something.” He had strong technical skills and a lot of soul, delivering one of the best auditions of the night. He easily moved on to Hollywood.

Wade Cota sang “Blame It on Me” by George Ezra and shared his backstory of growing up with an abusive father. He had a deep voice with an interesting tone and brought a lot of emotion to his vocals. He already works as a musician, but he is hoping to take his career to the next level. Cota got a golden ticket.

Riley Thompson sang an original song called “Oh Daddy,” and Perry compared her to a country version of Lana Del Rey. She is only 16 years old, but she showed a lot of potential and got three yeses.

Peter Lemongello got a yes from Perry for his performance of “Can’t Help Myself,” but Richie didn’t think he was the right fit for the show, and Bryan saw too many flaws in the vocals. He did not advance.

Singing “Die a Happy Man” by Thomas Rhett, country singer Clay Page got things back on track with another unanimous golden ticket. Perry called him the real deal, and Bryan was impressed by his delivery.

Drake McCain next sang the hymn “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” as well as a bit of “Oh Happy Day.” Perry lectured him a bit on choosing the right song, and Bryan cautioned him against doing too many runs. They panelists all said yes.

Another young singer of the evening, Madison VanDenburg, sang “Speechless” by Dan + Shay and accompanied herself on the piano. She showcased range and impressive musicality. Perry said she got goosebumps. The judges unanimously sent her to Hollywood.

Closing out the night was Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon, who sang an original song titled “Almost Heaven” for his audition, playing piano. He also shared his story of coming out as gay and not being accepted by his family. Harmon sailed through to Hollywood.

American Idol will return next Sunday.