‘American Idol’ Premiere: Emotional Moments And Outrage From Katy Perry

Lionel Richie and "American Idol" contestant Doug KikerAmerican Idol YouTube

American Idol returned with its Season 18 premiere on Sunday night. There were plenty of impressive auditions, a few questionable ones, and some tears from the judges. There was also a disagreement that had Katy Perry storming off.


The judges credited last season’s runner-up Alejandro Aranda with bringing “gravitas” and a new group of talent to the show. Katy Perry called it “a whole new playing field” this season.

‘American Idol’ Premiere Auditions


Doug Kiker

This garbage man from Mobile, Alabama, has no performing experience. Lionel Richie sent him out to warm up before auditioning, so he performed for a crowd on the street. When he returned, he performed “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts. Luke Bryan accompanied him on piano, and Katy teared up. The judges sent him to Hollywood.


Camryn Leigh Smith

This 16-year-old from Georgia sings in church. She performed “Big White Room” by Jessie J on the guitar. Luke said she reminded him of a young Katy Perry. Katy, meanwhile, said Camryn gave her “hope” for the new season. Camryn got three yes votes and a golden ticket to Hollywood.

Francisco Martin

This 18-year-old from San Francisco struggles with self-confidence. Luke and Lionel helped him calm down to sing “Alaska” by Maggie Rogers. He also performed a song he wrote about his Australian friend. Luke predicted he could win the whole show, and the judges gave him a ticket to Hollywood.


Hunter Gibson

This California singer goes by “The Comeback” and said he wants to bring energy to the show. Well, he definitely brought energy, but his voice is another question. For his audition, he performed “Swing Swing” by the All-American Rejects. Katy sang along, but all three judges voted no.


Nick Merico

This singer made it to Hollywood last year and got flirty with Katy Perry, but he had to leave the competition. He’s back for another chance, with a performance of “You Say” by Lauren Daigle on the piano. The judges criticized his ego, with Lionel faking him out by saying he didn’t like him. Ultimately, they voted him through to Hollywood.


Arthur Gunn

This singer is originally from Nepal, but now lives in Kansas. For his audition, he performed “Girl from the North Country” by Bob Dylan and “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” by Creedence Clearwater Revival on his guitar. Luke called him a “unique artist,” and Katy called him a “rock star.” Arthur is going to Hollywood.

Alisa Ermolaev

This New Yorker was born in Russia, and acts as a career. She brought plenty of attitude to her audition, performing two original songs. Luke said she was “loads of fun,” but didn’t think her vocals were right for the show. The other judges agreed, voting not to send her to Hollywood.

Louis Knight

This 19-year-old is originally from London and now delivers pizza in Philadelphia. He performed an original song called “Change,” in honor of a friend who died by suicide. Luke said he “might be the biggest star” they’ve ever had on the show. Lionel complimented his songwriting skills. The judges unanimously voted him through to Hollywood.



This singer from Canada sang professionally as a kid. She performed an original song called “Tell Me This is Real” on her guitar. Katy voted yes, but Lionel and Luke weren’t blown away. When they voted no, Katy was outraged. She knocked over their cups and stormed off screaming.


Meghan Fitton

This fitness instructor from Brooklyn is a fan of both American Idol and The Bachelor. She performed “Love Where You’re At” by Allen Stone. Katy said she loves the “grit” in Meghan’s voice. The judges all voted yes, but it was Bachelor host Chris Harrison who gave her the golden ticket.

Just Sam

This 20-year-old sings in the subway and lives with her grandmother in Harlem. She performed an emotional cover of “Just Say” by Lauren Daigle, breaking down in the middle. After a pep talk from the judges, Sam performed “Rise Up” by Andra Day. The judges were impressed, and Lionel said he wanted her to feel “safe” with them. Just Sam is going to Hollywood.


Jill O'Rourke
Jill O'Rourke

Jill O’Rourke is a contributor at Talent Recap, writing news stories and recaps for shows like ‘AGT,’ ‘The Voice,’ and ‘American Idol.’ She graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in English and Film Studies, and has been writing about pop culture since 2012, with previous bylines at Crushable and A Plus. Jill spends her free time binge-watching sitcoms and daydreaming about life as a hobbit

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