Talent Recap

‘American Idol’ Recap: Judges Hand Out First Platinum Ticket in Season 20 Premiere

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Reading Time: 4 minutes

American Idol Season 20 premiered on Sunday night, as judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan heard a whole new group of talented singers. This season introduced the Platinum Ticket, which allows a singer to skip the first round of Hollywood Week.

The judges are giving one Platinum Ticket out in each of the three cities they visited to listen to auditions. In Sunday night’s premiere, they presented the first Platinum Ticket of the season to a singer named Huntergirl in Nashville.

This week’s new episode also featured some emotional auditions that had the judges choked up, as well as a few shocking moments. Judge Katy Perry actually walked off the set not once but twice during the course of the episode.

‘American Idol’ Judges Give Platinum Ticket in Season 20 Premiere

Huntergirl is a 23-year-old singer from Tennessee who works with veterans in music therapy. For her audition, she performed “Riot” by Rascal Flatts, showing off a great country voice. Judge Luke Bryan was obsessed with her, predicting that she’ll be in the Top 10 and calling her “new age Miranda Lambert.”

Bryan shared that in his five years judging the show, Huntergirl is his “favorite female country voice I’ve heard.” She received three “yes” votes from the judges to get a Golden Ticket to Hollywood. Later in the episode, the judges invited her to sing at Bryan’s bar in Nashville.

During Huntergirl’s live performance, the judges surprised her. They presented her with a Platinum Ticket in a guitar case. Hunter will get to sit out the first round of Hollywood Week, along with two other singers who have yet to be revealed this season.

Some other standouts from the first episode were 18-year-old Nicolina, who knocked it out of the park with a cover of “She Used to Be Mine,” as well as 22-year-old Cole Hallman, who showed off a raspy acoustic sound and warmed the judges’ hearts by duetting with his sister.



Katy Perry Walks Off Set Twice in One Episode

Sunday night’s episode featured some surprising moments. The first came from a singer named Normandy who charmed the judges with her high-pitched voice and unique style. She performed “Proud Mary” by Tina Turner, showing off a singing voice that was much deeper than her speaking voice.

The instant Normandy started singing, Perry stood up and walked away from the judges’ table, saying, “F*ck this, y’all, I’m outta here.” She ended up coming back and asking Normandy to sing an Adele song. She sang “Set Fire to the Rain” and got a Golden Ticket to Hollywood.

Later in the show, the judges were surprised to learn that 15-year-old singer Grace Franklin is the granddaughter of iconic singer Aretha Franklin. Unfortunately, Grace’s nerves and inexperience affected her performance of “Killing Me Softly,” and the judges felt that she needed more work.

Perry was the only judge to vote yes. When she sensed that Richie was going to vote no, Perry tried to convince him to change his mind. However, Richie didn’t budge, prompting Perry to storm off and threaten to quit. She ended up returning to run after him with a folding chair. Obviously it was all a joke, but she seemed very passionate about Grace’s potential.


Judges Get Emotional Over Powerful Auditions

The Season 20 premiere also featured a couple of emotional auditions that had the judges transfixed. The first came from 24-year-old Tyler Allen from Alabama, who dedicated his performance of “I Believe in You and Me” by Whitney Houston to his nephew Noah, who died in a car accident at 1 year old.

Perry broke down in tears from hearing Tyler’s story, and she became even more emotional as he performed the song, which he used to sing to Noah. Her fellow judges pointed out that she had snot bubbles, prompting her to tell Tyler, “You made everyone in America snot.”

The episode ended with another powerful performance from Taylor Fagins, who performed an original song about the killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. The judges were mesmerized as Taylor performed the moving song on the piano. As Perry told him, “I’m glad you didn’t keep all that to yourself.”

Both Tyler and Taylor earned Golden Tickets to Hollywood.

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