‘American Idol’s Last Night Of Auditions Included One Wild Twist

Jill O'Rourke
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Maddie Poppe Lady Mapo American IdolABC

Season 17 of American Idol had its final night of auditions on Monday night. The episode was chock-full of amazing talent and moving stories. Singers from across the country brought their A-game, and the judges added some promising hopefuls to Hollywood Week.

This episode also featured a pretty big (and hilarious) twist that you had to see to believe. Let’s just say that not all of the auditioners were who they said they were.

Jade Flores

This 22-year-old from Texas brought plenty of enthusiasm to her audition. She shared that her ex-boyfriend had put her down for her weight, but she’s now engaged to a man who loves her the way she is. Jade showed off a great country voice with a cover of “Strawberry Wine” by Deana Carter. Lionel Richie praised her for being “entertaining,” and Katy Perry liked that she showed her personality. Jade walked away with a golden ticket to Hollywood.

Jakob O’Brien

This 18-year-old from Oklahoma shared his love of America with a flag shirt and a patriotic original song. Lionel said he didn’t think Jakob could keep up with the caliber of talent on American Idol. The judges agreed that he wasn’t the right fit, but encouraged him to keep writing about what he’s passionate about. Jakob had a great attitude about being rejected, saying it was the “best day ever” and walking away with Luke Bryan’s signature on his guitar.

Christiaan Padavan

This Long Island 19-year-old covered “Vienna” by Billy Joel. His classic crooner voice impressed the judges, but they also wanted to hear from his girlfriend Victoria. Although Christiaan said she was shy about singing, they convinced her to come in and perform “Toxic.” This wasn’t another impromptu audition, however. The judges praised Victoria for facing her fear, and sent Christiaan away with a golden ticket.

Ryan Hammond

This 25-year-old from California shared the emotional story of his weight loss surgery. He faced complications afterward, but ended up losing 170 pounds with the support of his family. His cover of Sam Smith’s “Lay Me Down” was a hit with the judges, with Katy calling him a “miracle.” Lionel said he turned the track into “your song.” Ryan got a golden ticket to Hollywood.

Chloe Channell

This 16-year-old from Florida auditioned with country singer Billy Dean accompanying her on guitar. (Billy said he knows Chloe through none other than Kenny Rogers!) Chloe performed “Stupid Boy” by Keith Urban, and Katy called it “brilliant.” Lionel said he couldn’t wait to hear how her voice develops over the years. The judges agreed that she should get a golden ticket to Hollywood.

Emma Kleinberg

This 21-year-old from Maryland shared the emotional story of her brother’s attempted suicide and brain injury. The judges were inspired by her positive attitude, and they loved her soulful audition to Allen Stone’s “American Privilege.” Katy said it was the best audition they had seen that day, and Lionel applauded her confidence. Emma, who aspires to a “beachy” style of music, got a ticket to Hollywood.

Zebulon Spencer

This 27-year-old champion clogger demonstrated his interesting talent for the judges. But it was his voice that really blew them away. He sang “Porch Swing Angel” by Muscadine Bloodline. The judges saw a lot of potential. Luke said Zeb had possibly his favorite country voice from either this year or the last. He walked away with a ticket to Hollywood.


This 23-year-old moved to Los Angeles from Israel when he was 18. He never came out to his conservative family, but credited Katy Perry with inspiring him to be himself. He sang an original song called “Heaven,” backed by his band, Jorgie and the Jorgies. Although the name is silly, Jorgie’s voice is not. Lionel said he was “in awe,” and Katy praised his “emotional voice.” He’s going to Hollywood.

Nick Merico

The judges called this 22-year-old from Miami a “hunkasaurus.” He previously appeared on a Nickelodeon show called Every Witch Way. Although he likes acting, he says music is his true passion. He auditioned with “Back to Black” by Amy Winehouse on the piano. The judges told him to prepare for the screaming girls as they sent him to Hollywood.

Lady Mapo

This goth auditioner made the judges a little nervous, as she called last season of American Idol “too American” and said she named herself after her dead cat. What at first seemed like an attention-seeking audition turned out to be a prank from none other than (SPOILER ALERT) last year’s winner, Maddie Poppe! Talk about a transformation. Did you figure out it was her?

Jared Sanders

Maddie wasn’t the only former contestant to show up. Her boyfriend Caleb Lee Hutchinson also appeared to support his friend Jared. The 20-year-old firefighter chose an appropriate song for his audition: “Fireman” by George Strait. Although Luke said he had potential, he and Katy voted no to sending him forward, saying he was “a couple years off.” Lionel gave him a yes, but it wasn’t enough to send him to Hollywood.

Jackson Gillies

This 19-year-old moved with his family to Santa Barbara after he was diagnosed with a skin condition called hidradenitis suppurativa, which has no cure. He says that music has helped him, as he taught himself to play the guitar. Jackson performed “Make It Rain” by Foy Vance, showing off a bluesy style that the judges loved. “Hallelujah, you can sing!” Lionel told him. He got a ticket to Hollywood.

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