GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV)- And just like that, American Idol is back with its highly anticipated “20th season of creating superstars!” The hit singing competition returned on Sunday, Feb 27 on ABC, and Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie, and Katy Perry began their quest to discover fresh talent during the first round of auditions.
Of course, in true American Idol fashion, several contestants blew the judges and viewers away, and some weren’t able to make a good enough impression. Below is a recap of standout auditions featured on American Idol’s official YouTube platform.
Luke Bryan discovers his new favorite female country artist!
Sporting cute fringe brown boots, a casual dress, jean jacket and guitar, Hunter Wolkonowski looks like a country heartthrob in the making! Aside from being extremely talented, Wolkonowski who goes my “Huntergirl” has an impressive background. She’s a music therapist for veterans and helps them cope with PTSD by turning their war stories into impactful songs.
During her Idol debut, she performs a rendition of A Rascal Flats Song. Not only does she nail her performance, but she receives a standing ovation and nice compliments from the judges, and a victory lap from Bryan.
“Hunter, your voice cuts through. It is like a sharp knife. It’s just so nice to listen to. You can tell the story through and through. It’s authentic,” Katy says.
“This is my fifth year doing this and that is my favorite female country voice I’ve heard in five years,” Bryan adds.
Watch Huntergirl’s performance here.
Nicolina gives everyone goosebumps
Nicolina Bozzo may be a college student, but the 18-year-old from Toronto, Ontario has a bright future ahead of her post-graduation. Her rendition of “She Used to Be Mine” is packed with passion and ends in a standing ovation and Perry getting goosebumps.
“Oh my gosh, that was so good. I felt your whole life story in that song,” Perry says.
“Girl that was just ridiculous. And the journey of your voice is what’s so infectious,” Richie comments.
Watch Nicolina’s stunning performance here.
Tyler Allen turns tragedy into triumph
Every season, American Idol never fails to make us cry. Tyler Allen’s performance dedicated to his sister and nephew both killed in an accident by an 18 wheeler, does just that. The 24-year-old from Mobil, AL sings the lullaby he sang to his nephew who had barely turned one and started walking.
“The song that I’m going to sing today is the song I used to sing to him all the time when I would rock him to sleep,” Allen says tearfully.
Seconds into his performance of a hit Whitney Houston song, Perry and all of America are in tears.
“Katy is an absolute wreck,” Bryan says jokingly.
Watch his emotional performance here.
Tyler Fagins makes an inspiring statement with his original song
Tyler Fagins made a lasting impression on the judges and viewers for several reasons. Not only did he prepare an original song, but it was a selection with an impact. He performed “We Need More”, a song recounting the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, and the unjust treatment of “little Black boys and girls” in America.
It’s a heavy but honest original piece that moved everyone in the audition room.
“That was a really really magical moment for me where I took every ounce of it in,” Bryan says.
“Activism comes in so many different forms. I think you should continue your process and hopefully influence a better world,” Katy adds.
Watch his performance here.
Cole Hallman shares the spotlight with his adorable sister!
Every singer has a number one fan, and for Cole Hallman, it’s his younger sister Katie! According to American Idol, Katie was born with a chromosomal deletion which delayed her development and caused behavioral issues, but she finds happiness in her big brother’s singing. After performing an upbeat acoustic song for the judges, he invites Katie into the audition room for a special encore.
They both share the floor and sing together, and it’s a sweet moment the world needs!
“Take a bow,” Richie says.
“That’s where the joy is. That’s where the happiness is,” Perry adds.
Watch the heartfelt audition here.