‘American Idol’ recap Night 5 of Season 18: Final auditions before Hollywood week [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

ABC airs the last of the five “American Idol” episodes devoted to the audition stage of the competition on March 15. Another 15 would-be winners of season 18 will sing for the three judges — Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie — hoping to get one of those coveted tickets to Hollywood.

Which of these will number among the 150 contestants who make it to this next stage? At the end of a week in Hollywood, only 40 moved on to the next round which saw them whisked off to Hawaii at the end of January where they auditioned for judges again, this time in front of guests staying at Disney’s Aulani Resort in Honolulu.

Only half of these Top 40 acts made the cut. In turn, the Top 20 performed twice more for the judges: first in solos and then duets with celebrities. Just 14 of them were put through to the live shows, which begin in April.  At that point, you will be able to predict the outcome of each episode of “American Idol” in our predictions center. You can already make forecasts for the outcomes on such reality TV shows as “Survivor,” plus the winners of the primetime Emmy Awards.

SEE ‘American Idol’ Winners: Where Are They Now (Seasons 1 – 17)?

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8:10 p.m.  — Tonight’s auditions kick off with an extremely nervous Robert Taylor III sitting down at the piano to perform “Bruises” for the judges. The 27-year old’s opening adlibs were enough to make Katy perk up in her seat. Following his soulful performance Katy tells him to never be scared and Lionel calls his voice “absolutely incredible.” Robert is emotional as he tells the judges he is auditioning in honor of his recently deceased father who encouraged him to be himself if he wants to become an entertainer. As a gay man who grew up in the church, that wasn’t always easy for Robert. Now he feels ready to express his talents to the world and the judges are helping out by handing him a golden ticket to Hollywood!

8:20 p.m. — Over in the Milwaukee auditions, Grace Leer has a reunion with Ryan Seacrest 16 years after she took part in the short-lived series “American Juniors.” Now at the age of 27, Grace is a country singer in Nashville and she blows the judges away with her version of “Crowded Table.” When asked to sing another song, Grace breaks out into “Crazy” completely a Capella and Lionel appreciates her ability perform on the spot. Grace is heading to Hollywood!

8:30 p.m.Franklin Boone is an instructor at the School of Rock and he’s singing “Dreams” with a sexy, raspy voice that compliments his laid-back fashion sense. You can tell this guy bleeds music and he gives off the vibe of a true artist. Luke says he could hear a recording artist in Franklin from the first note he sang. Katy says if Franklin wants to win this thing, he’s got a really good chance. He’s heading to Hollywood!

8:40 p.m. Luke Stafford is weirding out the judges with his awkward audition that includes a saxophone solo along with an accompanist on piano. Luke is actually a pretty good sax player, but the voice is a big NO for the judges. After a slew of more disappointing auditions, Roselyn Carter enters the room to show off her gospel skills on “Mother Bow.” Lionel is blown away, but Katy wants to hear more so Roselyn sings “So High” to prove she can sing a pop/R&B song. I like Roselyn because she doesn’t run the song into the ground and she has the ability to just stand and SING. Lionel loves Roselyn and Katy thinks she embodies what “American Idol” stands for. She’s heading to Hollywood!

8:50 p.m. — We head over to Washington D.C. auditions where the judges decide to hold an audition on a boat. To be clear, this boat has a pool on it so it’s not like they’ve all hopped in a canoe. Anyways, Megan Knight is the lucky artist to sing for them on deck and she’s brought along her guitar to sing “When Your Mind’s Made Up.” She’s okay, but certainly not someone I’ll remember in two hours. The coaches have plenty of critiques for Megan, but they still let her hop on the flight to Hollywood.

9:00 p.m. — Back inside Gilberto Rivera is waiting for the judges decked out in glitter, rainbows and high heels. While he appears to be a joke of a contestant, Lionel is stunned when Gilberto plays along for a creepily intimate duet of “Hello.” Stunned by his voice, it’s time for Gil to perform his true audition — “Proud Mary.” But this show pony is more than a singer, he’s ready to flip his hair and show off his dance moves and Katy is here for it! Lionel says theater may be Gilberto’s pathway but the performer objects and says that’s not his dream. Luke advises Gil to strip down his performance a bit and Katy suggests he shave his chest. With that in mind, the judges give Gil a pass to Hollywood.

9:05 p.m.Justin Oliver is up next singing “Treasure” and the “American Idol” accompanist just happens to be the songwriter. Justin is a decent singer but it’s all a little bland for my taste. The songwriter is asked for his opinion and he says Justin sings great but the performance could use more energy. The judges don’t think his vocals are up to standard so Justin is sent packing. We see a few more artists who just couldn’t measure up before the next hopeful, Aliana Jester, walks in with an adorable French bulldog. After telling the tragic story of her mother disowning her over religious beliefs, Aliana belts out “Who’s Lovin’ You” with beautiful clarity. Katy loves her voice but asks her to pour her emotions into it more. Luke thinks she’s a special singer and Lionel can’t believe how much she reminds him of a young Whitney Houston. Aliana’s heading to Hollywood!

9:15 p.m. — Up next is an 18-year old from Kingston, Jamaica is now homeless in New York. Jahzan and her mother now sing in the subways to earn money. Jahzan is singing “Warrior” and her voice is not like anything I’ve heard before, but not necessarily in a bad way. It’s just different. Set to the right music, Jahzan might have something to work with. Katy says it sounds like a Toni Braxton, Cher, Shakira combo. That’s a good description. Luke loves the unique quality of her voice, he just thinks she needs coaching. She will be able to get that coaching in Hollywood because it’s a YES from the judges.

9:25 p.m. — We pick up in the middle of Jordan Moyes‘ performance which has apparently given the judges all goosebumps. He’s a country singer with a somewhat high voice and Luke whispers to Katy, “I want to sign him right now.” Luke thinks he’s going to be a massive songwriter. Katy loves his guitar skills and Jordan gets a huge yes to Hollywood. Next up is Demi Rae singing “Mad at You” and this 26-year old has dreamed of being on “American Idol” since she was just a little girl. She’s got a decent range and an interesting indie/pop voice to go with her glittered eyelids. Demi admits she hasn’t pursued music professionally because she’s a little insecure but Katy encourages her to be the one to inspire others. Demi is heading to Hollywood.

9:45 p.m. — Next up is Nash aka “Mullet Man” and he crashes a s’mores party by the fire pit to audition for the judges. He belts out “I Should Have Been a Cowboy” while shirtless and although he’s got a good sense of humor, Nash isn’t ready for Hollywood. The next artist is a 17-year old from Kansas named Makayla Brownlee singing “Traveling Soldier.” She’s got a gorgeous country tone and sounds like a natural. The coaches are happy to send her to Hollywood!

9:59 p.m. — The last audition of Season 18 is 23-year old Amber Fiedler singing “Trust In Me.” Amber is visibly pregnant and shares her emotional story about how she came to the decision to give her baby up for adoption. Amber’s got a sweet, yet powerful voice that moves the judges. It’s a gorgeous vocal performance. Amber is heading to Hollywood with an enthusiastic YES from the judges and that’s a wrap for the audition process. The season will continue on Monday with the first round of Hollywood week.

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