Talent Recap

‘American Idol’ Recap: Judges Think They’ve Found Season 20’s Star

ABC/Eric McCandless

Reading Time: 3 minutes

American Idol Season 20 returned on Sunday night, as the judges listened to a new round of auditions by talented singers from around the country. They also gave out the season’s second Platinum Ticket to 17-year-old Kenedi Anderson.

This week’s episode also featured some quirky characters, and not one but two Kelly Clarkson covers — one of which was sung by a former Miss America. The show never ceases to surprise us, even in its 20th year on the air.

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

Kenedi Anderson shared that she grew up one of six siblings and moved around a lot due to her dad’s job. For her audition, she chose to perform a unique rendition of Lady Gaga’s song “Applause” on the piano. The judges were stunned by her talent, giving her a standing ovation.

Katy Perry said she was one of Kenedi’s fans, calling herself a Kenny Cat. She added that Kenedi checks every box. Lionel Richie said she “answered our prayers,” and Luke Bryan said she “might be the biggest star we’ve ever seen.” They rewarded her with a Platinum Ticket to skip the first round of Hollywood Week.

Other standouts from this week’s show include Christian Guardino, who earned a standing ovation of his own for his strong performance of “A Song for You” by Donny Hathaway. Richie hugged him and invited his mother in to celebrate. Perry described his voice as “gold.”

The night ended with another stellar performance from Lady K, who shared the emotional story of her brother’s suicide and her family’s financial difficulties. She performed Perry’s song “Wide Awake,” prompting the judge to tell her she “reinvented” it. Lady K left the judges heartfelt letters to read after they gave her a Golden Ticket.



Leah Marlene Is This Season’s Catie Turner

The judges may have found this season’s answer to Catie Turner from Season 16. Leah Marlene brought a little quirkiness to the audition room, singing “Steal My Girl” by One Direction. Perry said she has a “tremendous voice” and even encouraged her to sing an original song. Perry described her as “super quirky” and “super weird,” in a good way.

Another interesting audition from this week’s show came from Luke Taylor, who has a surprisingly deep voice. He even narrated a fake movie trailer about Bryan. His performance of “Ring of Fire” showed off just how low he could go. Bryan was obsessed, asking him to sing “Frosty the Snowman.”

Perry was uncertain about Luke’s chances in the competition, worrying that his voice was too much of a gimmick. Regardless, both Bryan and Richie voted “yes” to sending him to Hollywood. Luke and Leah both received Golden Tickets.


Miss America Betty Maxwell Auditions for the Show

This week’s episode kicked off with an audition from Betty Maxwell, who happens to be Miss America 2016. She even brought her tiara, warning the judges not to try it on. Obviously Katy Perry had to jokingly pretend to put it on her head.

Betty chose to sing “A Moment Like This” by Kelly Clarkson. Perry then asked her to perform a country song, so Betty covered “Jesus Take the Wheel” by another American Idol winner, Carrie Underwood. Bryan complimented her by saying she doesn’t sing like a pageant girl. Betty is going to Hollywood.

She wasn’t the only contestant to audition with a Clarkson song. Kelsie Dolin sang “Piece By Piece.” However, like Betty, the judges asked her to sing something else. She went with “When We Were Young,” blowing the judges away despite her shyness and nerves. Richie was even brought to tears. Kelsie earned a Golden Ticket to Hollywood.

The fact that both singers were encouraged to try something else might be a sign that it’s time to take a break from the Kelly Clarkson covers. It’s understandable that contestants would want to emulate the first winner, but it doesn’t always make them stand out.

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