The third night of the revival of “American Idol” on ABC promises more of the same from the show that launched the reality competition craze on TV. Follow along with our live blog as we recap the March 18 episode. Ryan Seacrest welcomes the hopeful contestants to the stage to sing for the panel of judges: pop princess Katy Perry, country superstar Luke Bryan and Oscar-winning singer/songwriter Lionel Richie.
While Seacrest oversaw the 15 seasons of “American Idol” on FOX, the three judges are new to this ABC version. Perry ignited a controversy on night 2, which aired on March 12, when she tricked a contestant into giving her what turned out to be his first kiss. Will she cause more raised eyebrows on night 3?
This reality-competition series has made stars out of some of the winners (like season 4 champ Carrie Underwood) and judges (Simon Cowell became a household name and producer of such hits as “America’s Got Talent”). Kelly Clarkson, the very first winner of “American Idol” way back in 2003, just started as a judge on NBC’s “The Voice.”
While that show doesn’t reveal the identity of the contestants until after the judges have listened to them sing, “American Idol” has the hopefuls facing the panel face forward. These audition episodes make for must-see TV as much for the awful acts as the ones that sound and look like they could go all the way.
Once the live playoffs of “American Idol” season 16 begin on April 22, you will be able to predict the outcome of each episode in our predictions center. You can already make forecasts for the outcomes on such reality TV shows as “Survivor,” plus the winners of the Academy of Country Music Awards and both the daytime and primetime Emmy Awards.
Below, follow along with all the action on the March 18 episode of “American Idol.”
8:07 p.m. – The judges are headed off to Savannah, Georgia in search of America’s next superstar First up is Crystal Alicea, a fiery redhead who fulfills her passion for music with karaoke performances. After being a victim of bullying, singing has helped her to remain positive. Will she make those bullies eat their words? Crystal is singing “Lay Me Down” by Sam Smith. She gets an A for passion and seems to be hitting all the right notes for Katy, who is in tears. Katy loves her personality and thinks she has something special. Lionel called her “refreshing” and “likable.” Crystal is headed to Hollywood!
8:16 p.m. – Kristyn Harris is up next. The horse trainer and trick rider spends her days on a Texas farm, but dreams of being the next American Idol. The judges are having some fun with her by making her simulate the milking of a cow on a whoopie cushion, but things get serious when she breaks into her audition, “I Want to be a Cowboy Sweetheart.” The judges break into a hoedown as Kristyn shows off her expert yodeling. I’m not in love with her voice, but she’s a lot of fun. Luke said he thinks she’s still learning her voice and yodeling won’t bring in the masses. Katy said “no” to Kristyn, but Luke and Lionel sent her to Hollywood.
8:25 p.m. – Back in New York, Jonny Brenns, a 6’5 singer-songwriter is hoping to tower over the competition. He’s singing an original song, “Blue Jeans” and it’s a romantic song but doesn’t exactly show off his vocal abilities. There’s something fascinating about the way he tells a story through song though and he is my favorite audition of the day. Luke wants to hear Johnny push his voice more, but thinks his tone is beautiful. Lionel said he needs two more years to develop and gave him a “no.” Katy gave him a second “yes” though and pushed Johnny through to Hollywood.
8:35 p.m. – The auditions take us back to Los Angeles where thousands more hopefuls are in line to audition. Ricky Manning is up first, accompanying himself on guitar. He’s got a great quality to his voice and Katy thinks he’s an exceptional songwriter. She could relate to the sadness in his story. Lionel and Luke agreed with Katy and Ricky got a resounding YES to Hollywood. Following his successful audition with an original song, we see some of the failed songwriters’ auditions. Songwriting isn’t for everyone!
8:40 p.m. – Up next is another songwriter, Effie Passero, who pairs an edgy haircut with a traditional sun dress. She sits down at the piano and delivers a blistering vocal of her original song. Wow! She is a powerhouse and the judges can’t wipe the smiles from their faces. She grew up studying opera, but now loves songwriting. Luke said she has presence. Katy said they have been looking for this voice all day. Lionel can’t wait to spend more time with her. Effie is off to Hollywood! Love her.
8:47 p.m. – Back down in Savannah, auditions continue with Tyler “Cougar” Gordon who is rocking a beanie and tie dye shirt in hopes of wooing Katy. He’s attempting to scream his way through a rock anthem A capella and it’s just not working for him. He’s a cool guy, but vocally he’s a hot mess. The judges all give him a “no” but “Cougar” walked out with a smile and left Katy his number as he exited.
8:52 p.m. – Johnny White is next to audition. Life wasn’t easy for him. He was adopted at the age of seven because his birth mother was a drug addict and his father was in prison. Although he was adopted into a loving family, he often felt alone. Music is his therapy. His music teacher is his biggest fan and believes he has what it takes to be “the one.” Let’s see what he’s got! Singing “This is a Man’s World,” Johnny shows power, grit and passion but draws out some of the notes too long for my liking. He has potential, but I didn’t care for the song choice. Lionel told him to dial it back and give him a second song. Lionel said “you have to make love to the song, but give us a little foreplay first.” Katy thinks he is top 10 material. He’s off to Hollywood!
9:05 p.m. – Our next artist in Savannah is a Georgia native who drove through the night after performing a gig to make it to his audition. Caleb Lee Hutchinson has been playing guitar since age 12 and is singing “If it Hadn’t Been for Love.” He’s got a deep, crystal clear country voice. He doesn’t appear the slightest bit nervous and sings like a natural. Lionel called him “strong and very powerful.” Katy loves the texture of his voice and his comfort level while singing. Luke said Caleb has a big voice, but shouldn’t overuse his vibrato. Overall, the judges loved Caleb and he’s going to Hollywood!
9:15 p.m. – 17-year old Shannon O’Hara is a nanny from a rural North Carolina town. Six months ago her father lost his job and now their family is in danger of losing their home. She hopes to turn things around by making it big as a musician. Sitting at the piano, Shannon belts out “When We Were Young” by Adele. She’s got a great tone that gives this beautiful melody justice. Lionel thinks she could be a major threat in the competition. Luke called her a songbird and gave her an enthusiastic “yes.” Katy and Lionel agreed and Shannon is heading to Hollywood!
9:25 p.m. – Amelia Hammer Harris grew up with a single mother and only met her father when she was 16 years old. He wrote American classics such as “Great Balls of Fire” and “Yakety Yak.” He has since passed away, but Amelia feels him with her as she auditions. She is singing “Gimme Shelter” and has a sexy, sultry voice with a lot of color. She also looks like a star, dressed in 1970’s hipster garb. There’s a magnetic star quality about her, but she may need to show more range to win this. Katy is surprised that she’s not already a star. Luke loves her. Lionel said she’s not a belter, so she’s going to have to dig deep to succeed. Amelia is going to Hollywood!
9:35 p.m. – Ryan Zamo is up next singing “Gravity” and is having a classic “American Idol” breakdown as he struggles to remember the words. Finally his head is clear, but unfortunately he’s an awful singer. Luke told him he’s better off working in skin care. Katy said it was the worst rendition of that song she’d ever heard.
9:40 p.m. – Up next is a charismatic pair of twins who look like they walked straight off the set of a Disney musical. Julian and Milo Sposato are just 17 years old and have no trouble facing off against each other to become the sole American Idol. They’re performing “Runaway Baby” by Bruno Mars and are even playing trumpet and saxophone to accompany themselves. I love these two! They clearly have music running through their veins and are absolute stars. Katy said they were really fun and could probably be Instagram models. Lionel said he would love to bring these two into the competition and shake things up. I can’t wait to see more from them in Hollywood!
9:50 p.m. – Les Green was born in Baltimore but grew up in a tent in Guyana. Back in the USA, he’s trying to make a better life for himself and his mother with a golden ticket to Hollywood. He’s singing a soul classic, “A Change Is Gonna Come,” and right from the start he almost blows the coaches over with his voice. This is the soul voice I’ve been waiting to see this season. Luke called him a Ferrari who is raw, rugged and full-speed ahead. Lionel wants to calm him down a little bit, but loves his passion. Katy is concerned he will lose his voice if he belts like that day after day. Regardless, it was a resounding “Yes!” to Hollywood!
9:59 p.m. – The final artist to audition tonight is Maddie Zahm. She works in special education now, but struggled through high school after gaining over 100 pounds in a single year. She lost her confidence, but her life changed when she met Marcus, a boy with down syndrome she met in a music class after he sang a Katy Perry song. At a time they both needed a friend, they found each other. Maddie is singing “New Rules” and the judges are ecstatic this lovable person also has a great voice! She followed it up with a special duet with Marcus on “Firework.” Katy called her an incredible woman. Lionel said she has great potential. Luke told her to push herself, but she’s got it. Maddie is going to Hollywood! And that’s a wrap for Night 3 of auditions.