‘American Idol’ Has A Second Night Of Soulful Auditions

Jill O'Rourke
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Shayy Winn American Idol auditionABC

Season 2 (aka 17) of American Idol returned for its second round of auditions on Wednesday night. Once again, there was no shortage of quirky characters and moving stories.

This second night of auditions seemed to be heavy on the soulful guitar players, several of whom had a country twang. Considering two of the audition states were Kentucky and Idaho, that’s not too much of a surprise.

Courtney Penry

This 25-year-old from Houston previously appeared on the show in 2011, when she imitated a chicken and fangirled over Ryan Seacrest. This time, she showed up with her fiancé, but was still just as “extra” (her words). Courtney started off singing “Parachute” by Chris Stapleton, complete with sound effects. She then dialed it back a little for “Girl Crush” by Little Big Town, and earned a golden ticket to Hollywood.

Logan Johnson

This 20-year-old from Idaho has been dreaming of being on Idol since he was a kid. He shared that he had struggled with drug abuse but was eight months sober as of his audition. Appropriately, he chose to sing “Sober” by Demi Lovato. Logan’s poignant performance impressed the judges, with Luke Bryan comparing him to Justin Timberlake and saying girls would “lose their minds” over him. All three voted to send him to Hollywood.

Eddie Island

This 25-year-old from Nashville introduced himself by saying, “Welcome to the Island.” He had googly eyes on his guitar which matched judge Katy Perry’s nails. But it was his performance of an original song called “Stay OK” that really had the judges living the Island life. Katy called him a “star.” Although Luke called him a “little turd,” he joined his fellow judges in sending Eddie to Hollywood.

Kason Lester

This 28-year-old farmer from Tennessee brought strawberries for the judges, but it was his singing that really wowed them. He sang “Holdin’ Her” by Chris Janson, and Katy said he was top 10 material, although she could tell he was “really nervous.” Luke Bryan thought his guitar skills could be stronger, but his voice was great. Kason made it out with a golden ticket to Hollywood.

Karli Ryan

Karli’s mom auditioned for Idol 15 years ago. Now, at age 17, she said she wanted to win for both of them. She sang an original song called “Give Me Back My Heart” on the piano. Although Luke voted yes, neither Katy nor Lionel thought she was quite ready for the competition. While they said she has potential, they voted no. Karli was understandably upset, but vowed not to give up.

Juan Pablo

This 26-year-old is originally from Mexico, and he brought plenty of Latin flavor to his audition. He left Katy hot and bothered after his performance of “Bésame Mucho.” In her words, he’s “authentic” and “sensitive,” with plenty of “drama.” Lionel Richie was also impressed, but Luke wasn’t as into it at first. In the end, though, he changed his mind and voted yes. Juan Pablo is going to Hollywood!

Shayy Winn

This 17-year-old Virginia native is legally blind after a brain tumor was discovered a year ago. She faced bullying at school and says she’s a “question mark” to doctors, but to the judges, she’s a star. Her stunning rendition of Andra Day’s “Rise Up” left Lionel in tears. Luke said she sings “straight from the soul,” and Katy called her “inspiring.” She returned to her high school with a golden ticket, and was greeted with a celebration.

Malea Emma Tjandrawidjaja

This 7-year-old singing sensation went viral last year for her performance of the National Anthem. All three judges stood with their hands on their hearts as she serenaded them. Considering the minimum age to appear on American Idol is 15, we won’t be seeing Malea in Hollywood just yet. But Katy did present her with a golden ticket for 2027.

Landen Knowlton

This 23-year-old Army sergeant from Mississippi got to do something few contestants do — order the judges around. (That includes making them do push-ups.) He performed “Washed by the Water” by Christian rock band Needtobreathe. Katy and Luke encouraged him not to try too hard, and to show off the subtle qualities and “soul” in his voice. He left with a golden ticket to Hollywood.

Ethan Payne

At 18 months old, Ethan was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis. The 15-year-old from Georgia calls singing his “cure.” He previously wrote to Make-A-Wish asking to meet Luke Bryan, and got to perform with him in concert. Luke gave him his guitar, which Ethan brought to his audition. In a sweet moment, Luke joined him in a duet of his song “Do I.” He walked away with another gift — a ticket to Hollywood.

Kimberly & Bernie Gonzalez

These newlyweds (who got married in Walt Disney World) were definitely still in the honeymoon phase during their mushy audition. They performed “So This Is Love” from Cinderella, with a few animated birds for effect. The judges all said no, but not before Katy showed off her impression of Gus the mouse. At least they still have each other.

Alejandro Aranda

This 24-year-old talent already made a splash earlier this week in a sneak peek that American Idol called its greatest audition ever. Alejandro, who taught himself music and started busking at 20, performed the original song “Out Loud” on guitar, and blew the judges away. Lionel asked him to play another song on the piano just to hear it, and Katy told him she thinks he can win the whole competition. Through it all, Alejandro remained humble.

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