American Idol season 17 kicked off last with a whole new slate of auditions – and Ryan Seacrest back as host. Here are a few of the highlights:
One of the more emotional moments of the night came when a 19-year-old songstress, who goes by the name Kai the Singer, took the stage and brought judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan to tears with her emotional back story, determination and powerful voice.
The South Carolina factory worker grew up in and out of homeless shelters. There are currently eight people living in her house, and only two of her brothers have beds. "You get tired of seeing your family struggling," she said. The judges agreed that Kai’s nerves impeded her performance of Ed Sheeran’s "Thinking Out Loud," but all of their doubts faded away during her second song, a beautiful rendition of "My Girl" by The Temptations that blew them away. Katy felt a personal connection to Kai, as both received their first guitars as gifts from their church congregations, and Lionel told her: "God can only do for you what he can do through you. Needless to say, Kai got her golden ticket to Hollywood.
The show started on a feel-good note with Walker Burroughs, a 20-year-old from Alabama. Walker first sang "Love Like This" by Ben Rector on the piano, and earned a comparison to Billy Joel from Katy. She also told him she thought he was "top 10 material." Walker also sang a few bars of Lionel Richie’s "Hello," and his die-hard fan of a mom got to meet the man himself. Walker left with a golden ticket to Hollywood.
Margie Mays, a 25-year-old from Delaware with a bundle of energy and bird sounds and burps impressed the judges. Katy questioned whether Margie Mays is her real name, and advised her not to drink coffee. Once she finally started singing, the judges were impressed, making Margie cry – and burp out of nervousness. Katy and Luke both voted to send her to Hollywood, but Lionel gave her a no just to "scare" her and make her understand the "seriousness" of the competition.
Myra Tran, a 19-year-old aspiring singer from Vietnam, has been living in the United States for just one year. She told the judges that it’s been her dream to perform on American Idol since she was a kid. She blew them away by singing "One Night Only," performed by Idol alum Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls. Luke said she was "up there with the Kelly Clarksons of the world." All three judges sent her to Hollywood.
Johanna Jones, a 23-year-old Las Vegas native bonded with Katy over In-N-Out. Johanna works there and Katy met Orlando Bloom there. They also bonded over their habit of eating potato chips before performing. She impressed the judges with her take on Sam Smith’s "I’m Not the Only One," accompanied by a guitar player. Lionel called her "the package," adding that she has "the touch." They voted to send her to Hollywood.
The truly bad auditions didn’t get too much screen time, save for a Buffalo, New York, self-described "gas station creature" named Vokillz. He invented a genre of music noise called Mystic Death Trap Metal, which he demonstrated through an original song titled "American Creature." Perry said yes, but Bryan and Richie said no, so he did not advance.
Closing out the night was Nick Townsend, who gave an emotional performance of "Let it Go" by James Bay. He shared the story of losing his brothers to suicide. The judges were moved by his singing and sent him through to Hollywood.AUDIO: AMERICAN IDOL KAI THE SINGER PERFORMS MY GIRL
AUDIO: AMERICAN IDOL KATY AND LUKE BECOME EMOTIONAL AFTER KAI THE SINGERS PERFORMANCE
AUDIO: AMERICAN IDOL KATY ON MEETING HER BOYFRIEND AT IN N OUT BURGER
AUDIO: AMERICAN IDOL LUKE ON NICK TOWNSENDS PERFORMANCE
AUDIO: AMERICAN IDOL MARGIE MAYS PERFORMS
AUDIO: AMERICAN IDOL MYRA TRAN IS COMPARED TO KELLY CLARKSON
AUDIO: AMERICAN IDOL MYRA TRAN PERFORMS ONE NIGHT ONLY
AUDIO: AMERICAN IDOL NICK TOWNSEND PERFORMS LET IT GO
AUDIO: AMERICAN IDOL NICK TOWNSEND REVEALS BOTH OF HIS BROTHERS COMMITTED SUICIDE
AUDIO: AMERICAN IDOL THE JUDGES ON MARGIE MAYS PERFORMANCE
AUDIO: AMERICAN IDOL THE JUDGES ON VOKILLZ PERFORMANCE
AUDIO: AMERICAN IDOL VOKILLZ PERFORMS AMERICAN CREATURE