We are now four shows in to the “American Idol” revival on ABC. The March 25 episode will be one of the last devoted to the auditions portion of the competition. Expect more merriment from the three judges — pop princess Katy Perry, country superstar Luke Bryan and Oscar-winning singer/songwriter Lionel Richie — as they listen to a string of would-be singers. Only a few will get a ticket to Hollywood, while the rest will get a farewell hug from host Ryan Seacrest.
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” in 2002, is a judge on this season’s edition of NBC’s “The Voice.”
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 the premiere, which aired on March 11, when she tricked a contestant into giving her what turned out to be his first kiss.
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 25 episode of “American Idol.”
8:05 p.m. – Tonight’s episode kicked off with a surprise for Lionel, as a group of contestants auditioning were gathered together to perform a choir rendition of his classic hit “Hello.” It was a nice gesture and fun to see a new generation appreciate this living legend’s music.
8:10 p.m. – The first audition of Episode 5 is taking place in the capital of country music, Nashville. A bubbly 17-year old named Gabby Barrett is singing her idol, Carrie Underwood’s song, “Good Girl.” She sounds good, but Katy wants to hear her sing a song with more depth. After Gabby tried to sing another Carrie song, the judges divert her once again because they want to hear “her.” Finally, Gabby belted out “His Eye Is On the Sparrow” and impressed the judges. It’s a “yes” to Hollywood for this young singer, but Katy helped Gabby prank her father by telling him she didn’t make it. Once he realized his daughter had made the cut, everyone including Katy burst into tears. Their tip for Gabby: “Be your own hero.”
8:15 p.m. – Up next Caitlin Lucia arrives in an obscene orange-yellow jumpsuit and performs “I Kissed a Girl” in front of the original singer herself. Despite her outfit, Caitlin is crushing this audition. Her acoustic, rock-tinged version of this song should be recorded and released. Katy thinks Caitlin sang the song better than she did. It’s a “definite yes” for Caitlin who soars to Hollywood. She’s a standout! Look out for her.
8:25 p.m. – Down in New Orleans, Elvis Presley’s distant cousin, Amelia Presley is auditioning with “Heartbreak Hotel.” She has a fun, laid-back vibe to her. Billy Crunk and Bailey Eubanks are also inspired by the King of Rock ‘N Roll but aren’t inspiring vocalists. Drake Milligan is the final audition inspired by Elvis. He literally works in a dump, so let’s hope the best for him. He is singing a country song and he’s got a decent voice but perhaps more importantly looks like a star. Luke said Drake crushed his audition because he didn’t try to sound like Elvis and he’s “cowboy cool.” Drake is heading to Hollywood! No word on the others, so apparently they don’t matter.
8:32 p.m. – Mylon Shamble is next to sing for the judges and she’s performing “Stand By Me” with interesting inflections to her voice that allow her to stand out. She’s headed to Hollywood!
8:40 p.m. – After a string of contestants left a trail of tears from rejection, Lee Vossi arrived and made it clear that Lionel is her favorite judge. Lee is a stunning beauty and definitely has that “X factor,” but let’s see if she can sing! She tells Lionel her favorite song ever is his record, “Zoom” and he immediately stands up to sing with her. Katy pretended she was touched by what just transpired but gently moved the audition along. Next, Lee is singing “Love Shoulda Brought You Home” by Toni Braxton. Lee doesn’t quite have the sultry, seductive tone of Toni and when she hit the chorus she went completely off the rails. The judges told her she started off great, but didn’t pull it off. Lee basically got a pass for being hot and Luke even told her she could be Top 10. That was garbage, she tanked. Let’s see if she proves the judges right and can bring it in Hollywood.
8:47 p.m. – Back in Los Angeles, we get a peak at some of the more bizarre auditions. Tory Teasley is having fun singing “F*** You” while dressed like Miss Cleo. Lucy Clearwater gave us a fun, acoustic version of “I Like Big Butts” and Jarome something failed to impress the judges, but at least he’s wearing his pajamas so he can just go back home and go to bed.
8:50 p.m. – Michael J. Woodard kicked off his audition with an epic fail and forgot the words to his song. What started as a disaster soon turned magical after he shook out the jitters and crushed his version of “Make it Rain.” He has a “bright-eyed and bushy-tailed vibe” according to Katy. He has a great personality and Luke thinks America is going to pull for him. I agree. Michael is going to Hollywood!
9:00 p.m. – While the judges appreciate authenticity, they also like a bit of flare and love artists who dress the part. Brielle Rathbun didn’t disappoint, walking into the room with a mane of silver braids. She comes from a large family of both biological and adopted children who all live with their father after her parents recent divorce. After discovering Brielle is a dance instructor, Luke worked in some lessons, but continues to be without rhythm. Singing “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles, Brielle shows a textured, emotional vocal control. The judges think she’s a natural and Katy loved her power. Brielle is going to Hollywood!
9:10 p.m. – Up next is a self-described mess, Carly Moffa. Her biggest fan is her mother, who has been diagnosed with progressive multiple sclerosis. She was able to attend the audition and thankfully looks well. Carly is singing an original song she wrote for her mother, “Let the Lion Out.” Armed with her guitar, Carly has a distinctive voice but sings with one of those annoying fake accents so many singer-songwriters do these days. I could never sit through her concert. Katy thinks Carly is great, Lionel thought she has amazing personality and vocal quality and Luke said she was “tremendous.” I’m not into it, but Carly is off to Hollywood.
9:20 p.m. – Down in Savannah, Georgia, more hopefuls are hoping for a life-changing moment in front of the judges. Ayana Lawson goes by the name “Rose” because Ayana means beautiful flower in Ethiopia. Ayana grew up poor and struggled through school and couldn’t afford to play sports. Now, music is her passion and joy in life. She’s quirky, but there’s something magnetic about her. Wearing large-framed glasses, Ayana takes a seat on a bench and serenades the judges with “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” She is a great guitar player, but I’m not overly enthusiastic about her voice. She didn’t take the song anywhere and reminds me of someone you hear in a coffee shop. Lionel echoed my thoughts by saying, “I want for you” but her voice needs to grow. The judges love her spirit, but believe she needs to develop more. It was tough to see Ayana walk out the door with a “no,” but it was the right decision.
9:30 p.m. – Back at the New York auditions, an eccentric artist who looks like anything but a kid who grew up on a farm, showed up in a turban and a choker necklace to show the judges his talent. Samuel Swanson is full of attitude singing “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green. He has a nice tone, but is a bit too delicate with this song for my taste. I want to hear more power! Luke said Samuel’s voice is pure velvet. Katy thinks he has “something there” but needs to let go. Lionel compared him to Luther Vandross, which is just an irresponsible comment. But Samuel is off to Hollywood.
9:37 p.m. – Let’s rock! We’ve got a full-fledged heavy metal rocker hoping to make the cut. Damiano Scarfi killed my hopes for an “American Idol” rock star as soon as he opened his mouth. What a terrible, grating voice. He looks like he belongs in an 80’s rock band, but he sounds like he’s in an 80’s horror film. It’s a “no” for Damiano. Upon his exit, Katy asked for Advil.
9:45 p.m. – Back down in the Savannah auditions, Jurnee started writing music at just seven years old. After a lonely childhood, Jurnee has been living in a rainbow bliss since coming out as a lesbian and marrying her wife. She’s singing “Rise Up” by Andra Day which is no easy task. I’m so happy she can sing! I’ve been waiting to hear a powerful voice all night and Jurnee sounds great and is absolutely gorgeous. Lionel said vocal command is everything to him (he said songwriting was earlier) and she has it in spades. The judges were excited to send this songbird through to Hollywood. I loved her.
9:59 p.m. – Adam Sanders originally auditioned for “American Idol” during Season 12 and made it to the Top 50. Following that appearance, Adam received horrible backlash on social media from people mocking his weight and sexuality. Some people even told him to kill himself. Adam hid himself from the world and began feeling suicidal. He’s now back, ready to be his true self. Dressed in full drag, Ada Vox emerged to perform for the judges. Yaaaassss queen! Singing “House of the Rising Sun” Ada absolutely slayed her vocal and showed off incredible range. Katy asked Ada if she wants to be a serious pop star and Ada said she’s not here to play games. This is the perfect time for “American Idol” to put a drag queen on the show. Ada will be so fun to watch and I can’t wait for more! What a great way to wrap up Night 5. Ada goes to Hollywood!