Five weeks after “American Idol” kicked off season 4 on ABC on Valentine’s Day the audition episodes came to an end. Night 5, which airs March 14, features another 21 artists hoping to win over the three judges: Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie. Each is hoping to number among the 150 contestants who make it to the next stage: Hollywood Week. At the end of those seven days, only 40 will make the cut.
Those two score of contestants will then take turns performing on their own and with celebrity guests. Only half of this Top 40 will move on in the competition. And from these Top 20, just 14 contestants will get put through to the live shows, which begin in early April. At that point, you will be able to predict the outcome of each episode in our predictions center.
8:05 p.m. — The final night of auditions kicks off with 25-year old Madison Watkins, an Arkansas native whose friends call her “Moo Moo.” She recently moved out to Los Angeles to pursue her dreams, but that hasn’t been easy. Her dad is her biggest supporter and tonight Madison will sing an original song about him, titled “Your Little Girl.” She sits down at the piano and shows off some impressive musicianship before launching into the lyrics. The words are a bit juvenile, but Madison has a really good voice and is a total package. Luke says she made the right choice to move to L.A. and chase her dreams. Katy calls her a Britney Spears “Crossroads” moment of positive light. It’s a big YES for Madison to move forward.
8:15 p.m. — Next up are a pair of teenagers who are massive fans of Katy. Singing first is Liv Grace Blue, a 17-year old from California who is also playing guitar. She’s singing a darker version of “I Kissed a Girl,” which starts a little slow but picks up at the chorus. She’s not a great singer, but she’s got a unique tone and I can see potential here. Up next is Ava August, a 15-year old singer-songwriter who plays piano and has a slightly more interesting tone and delivery. The judges are impressed by both of them and both of these Katy Kats are headed to Hollywood!
8:25 p.m. — A tuba player from the Jackson State University marching band is next on the audition stage, impressing the judges with his sharp outfit. Deshawn Goncalves was born to a 13-year old mother and his father was just a couple years older. His father ended up running with the wrong crowd and ended up in jail and Deshawn had a misguided childhood. When his dad got out of prison he was determined to get his life on track and since then he’s been a positive influence in the aspiring singer’s life. With his dad’s encouragement, Deshawn began singing, playing instruments and succeeding in school. For his audition, Deshawn is serenading the judges at the piano and this guy isn’t just playing a couple cords while he sings. It’s like watching a concert pianist belt out a love song and the judges are on the verge of tears. Lionel calls the 19-year old “powerful” and Katy calls him “magic.” There’s a purity and light around Deshawn and he’s Hollywood bound.
8:30 p.m. — A couple of athletes turned singers are highlighted next, including 22-year old Alana from Florida, a sassy pop singer who doesn’t seem to quite have the emotion required for stardom. Another is Cameron Allen, a 20-year old from Oklahoma who hits a home run with the judges with his runs and raspy vocals. Despite my being underwhelmed by Alana, she and Cameron both advance to Hollywood with their golden tickets.
8:35 p.m. — Next up is a 15-year old Ohio native who is the only one of his siblings that doesn’t play sports. Tryzdin Grubbs started performing publicly in 5th grade, which was when the severe bullying started. After being shoved into lockers and told to kill himself, Tryzdin still struggles with feelings that the people making fun of him are right. As he performs for the judges he looks nervous, and Luke cuts him off citing concern for Tryzdin’s lack of confidence. Lionel says fear can be a person’s worst enemy, but the teenager has a nice tone. They ask him to sing another song, which goes better with his back against the wall. He opens up vocally and he shows off more range and grit as the judges cheer him on. With advice to dial in and believe in himself, Tryzdin is sent home with a golden ticket!
8:40 p.m. — Andrea Vallez, a 23-year old from Texas gets a short edit of her performance shown. Katy finds her hypnotizing but isn’t convinced she’s a star. As the coaches debate her potential, Andrea launches into another song which seems to convince Katy she has what it takes. Lionel feels good about this gamble and they decide Andrea should move forward to Hollywood.
8:45 p.m. — With no introduction following the commercial break, the audition of Kiko, a 25-year old from Las Vegas is in full swing. He’s a guitar-playing nurse from Las Vegas who has a solid voice for sitting around a bonfire and jamming, but I don’t hear anything revolutionary. When asked to sing another song, he calls in his friend for help, a 2020 “American Idol” finalist, Francisco Martin. We learn that Kiko is actually Francisco’s brother, but I can’t help but wonder if this is really just an advertisement for Francisco’s new single, which he happens to mention was just released via 19 Records. Together they sing another song, “10 Years,” hoping Kiko can convince the judges to put him through. It’s actually not good at all to my ears, but let’s see what the judges think. Katy isn’t sure Kiko is ready and gives him a “no.” I’m glad she has integrity. Lionel gives him a yes and is willing to take a chance. Luke slams the door on him and says he’s not as good as his brother, so Kiko will have to go back to the nurse’s station and continue to work on his music. At least he’s doing great things and helping many people at a time we really need it. Props to Kiko!
8:50 p.m. — Speaking of going home empty-handed, a 2018 contestant who was rejected after being called “Sinatra boy” has returned for another shot at stardom. Wearing his best sweater, Zachary D’Onofrio hops on the piano and sings “Golden Slumbers” for his second chance. I actually like this 19-year old’s voice, it is old-school pop and a little loungey, but I’m impressed. Katy still doesn’t understand, so Zachary brings out his girlfriend for some help. Now GET THIS. His girlfriend is 2018 finalist and fan favorite Catie Turner. They’ve been together for a year and make beautiful music together, which raises the eyebrows of the judges. Luke says Zachary is going to have to pour the gas on with his voice, but the judges see potential. He’s heading to Hollywood!
8:55 p.m. — Helen Blondel hits the stage for a duet of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” with her sock. Yep, that’s right. She’s belting it out with her foot-snugger and you may be shocked to hear it doesn’t go well. Jake Clark busts out some seriously awful dance moves to draw attention to himself, but that doesn’t quite make up for his underwhelming vocals. Luana waves a scarf around while singing all the wrong notes, so, in the words of the legend Randy Jackson, “It’s gonna be a no for her, dawg,”
9:00 p.m. — The spotlight has shifted to the next artist, which I’m assuming is going to be talented. Brianna Collichio went viral on TikTok, so after making a deal with her sister, the 15-year old is auditioning for “American Idol.” She was born with cystic fibrosis and is prone to chronic lung infections. Her life expectancy is about 36 years old, but she’s not defeated. Brianna hopes to inspire people and is singing “Scars to Your Beautiful,” which impresses the judges. They thank her for her bravery, but could feel her nerves. Katy tells her to go after singing with the same vigilance she does her disease. Brianna is going to Hollywood!
9:10 p.m. — Next up are a couple of boy banders who have opened for stars like Kesha, Bigtime Rush and Victoria Justice. When the band broke up these two never stopped being best friends and now they’re auditioning together. Danny Falco is up first and he styled his mohawk in a downward slope for the judges to appear more serious. He belts out “You Found Me,” perplexing the judges because he appears to be putting on an act. Luke calls his voice abrasive. It’s a no for Danny. Next up his buddy Colin Jamieson sits down at the piano hoping to fare better. He sings “Six Feet Under” and seems to have a bit more control over his voice, but his heavy breathing is distracting. Luke and Katy actually mention his breaths as well, but think he has something to work with. Colin is headed to Hollywood!
9:25 p.m. — Vahhley is a 23-year old New Yorker who is currently living in a homeless shelter with her son. She’s emotional telling her story because she knows this is a chance to make a better life for her family. She’s auditioning with Whitney Houston‘s “One Moment in Time,” a massive song that even the best singers avoid, so hopefully she can do it some justice. Her voice is shaky with nerves and she sounds timid until the chorus, when Katy stands to encourage her. She has a nice voice, but lacks the power it takes to command that song. Lionel says Vahhley says she will climb out of her situation. Luke says she has a nice voice, but needs to get out of the space of being a “huge belter,” and focus more on lyrical songs with feeling. Although it wasn’t flawless, the judges see potential in Vahhley and she’s heading to Hollywood.
9:35 p.m. — After an embarrassing audition by an artist named Steven Paul (that Luke tried to save by joining, but didn’t), we move on to more likely stars. Wyatt Pike is a 19-year old songwriter from Utah who is performing an original song for the judges. He’s incredibly skilled on the guitar, but vocally he’s just okay. Luke thinks Wyatt is totally cool and unique, Katy thinks he has technical issues but an immense talent and Lionel compares him to James Taylor. Wyatt gets a golden ticket to Hollywood.
9:45 p.m. — Next up is an 18-year old named Jackson Snelling. Jackson has autism and lost his father to a heart attack when Jackson was just seven years old. He turned to songwriting to help him cope with his emotions and it’s helped him tremendously. Today Jackson is singing a song called “Please Listen,” which he wrote for his brother who is also autistic. He sits at the piano and belts out the emotional ballad. He’s got a good voice, but Katy thinks he needs more experience. Lionel is impressed with Jackson’s character but agrees, Jackson needs to get more experience behind the mic. They send him home and encourage him to return in a year or two.
9:59 p.m. — The last artist to audition this season will be Althea Grace, a 21-year old songwriter from Chicago. Althea has an emotional story about her one-year old daughter who nearly died before receiving a lifesaving liver transplant. Tonight Althea is singing a song she wrote while she was in the hospital with her daughter called “Saturday Morning.” Luke loves the tone of her voice and compares her to Stevie Nicks. Lionel says her voice cuts through, but she needs to be confident. Katy empathizes with what Althea is going through, but tells her she has to fight for this. The judges all agree that Althea should be in Hollywood and they hand her a golden ticket! That’s a wrap for auditions this season. Next Sunday Hollywood week begins!