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‘American Idol’ Premiere Recap: First Auditions Bring Katy, Luke & Lionel To Tears

‘American Idol’ is back for season 17! Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie witnessed some incredible auditions during the season 17 premiere. Many of them brought the judges to tears!

American Idol season 17 kicks off in Louisville, Kentucky! Walker Burroughs, 20, is the first Idol hopeful to audition. He’s from Birmingham and currently a resident advisor at Belmont University. He performs a gorgeous rendition of Ben Rector’s “Love Like This” on the piano. Katy Perry gives him a standing ovation! “That is just so natural and cool and effortless and dope,” Katy says. “I think you’re top 10 material.” Luke Bryan asks Walker whether or not he knows Lionel Richie’s songs. Well, Walker’s mom is a huge Lionel fan! Walker goes back to the piano and sings “Hello.” Lionel likes what he sees. Needless to say, Walker is going to Hollywood!

The show is traveling to Idaho for the first time in season 17. The Gem State gives us Johanna Jones, 23, from Las Vegas. She’s a cook for In-N-Out. Katy reveals that she met her fiancé Orlando Bloom over In-N-Out. Johanna also admits she eats potato chips before she sings. Johanna performs a stunning rendition of Sam Smith’s “I’m Not The Only One.” The judges tell Johanna that she has “the package.” She’s a star in the making. She’s going to Hollywood!

Kalifa WilsonKai the Singer — is the next to sing. The 19-year-old factory worker from South Carolina hasn’t had the easiest upbringing. She lived in and out of shelters and was living in a car at one point. She wants to make something of herself so her family doesn’t have to struggle. She starts out by singing Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” with her guitar. She’s a little uneasy. “I think the nerves got the best of you,” Katy says. Lionel tells Kai to try again. For her second try, Kai performs “My Girl” and puts her own little twist on it. Katy starts to cry during the performance. Luke is beyond impressed that Kai’s even standing in front of them. Kai says that her church sent her to the audition. At this point, both Katy and Lionel are tearing up. Katy really connects with Kai, saying her family suffered hardship when she was young. The judges send Kai to Hollywood, giving her the chance of a lifetime.

The judges also head to New York City, which is where season 16 winner Maddie Poppe auditioned! Oil mechanic Tyler Mitchell, 26, steps out in front of the judges. The Louisiana country boy says he’s been told he’s got a “God given talent.” He performs a perfect rendition of Vince Gill’s “Whenever You Come Around.” Luke starts singing along with Tyler! “Literally a star is born,” a stunned Katy says. Even though Tyler is a newbie when it comes to performing, these judges believe in him enough to send him to Hollywood!

In Los Angeles, a “mystic death creature vocalist” named Vokillz, 24, auditions for the judges. His “mystic death trap metal” sound doesn’t woo the judges whatsoever. They’re honestly a little creeped out by him. Margie Mays, 25, is one of the spunkiest contestants American Idol has ever seen. She’s got SO. MUCH. ENERGY. Her powerful performance of Lawrence’s “Shot” shows the judges her broad vocal range. “You’re literally a star,” Katy says, which makes Margie start crying. Lionel only gives her a no to scare her into getting serious. Nevertheless, she’s going to Hollywood!

Myra Tran has got dreams, and she’s hoping American Idol will make them happen. The 19-year-old moved from Vietnam to follow her dreams. When she tells the judges that she’s going to sing Jennifer Hudson’s “One Night Only,” they’re a little stunned. That’s a tough song! Well, Myra’s got just the right voice to sing that song. The judges are absolutely blown away and give her a standing ovation. “You’re up there with the Kelly Clarksons of the world,” Luke declares. After the judges give Myra her golden ticket, Lionel says her performance was a “religious experience.”

Uché, 23, first performs a dance-filled rendition of “Ain’t No Other Man” by Christina Aguilera. The performance is good, but not great. The judges ask him to sing standing still. He’s much better the second time around. Katy immediately says yes, while Lionel says no initially. However, after hearing Uché’s inspirations, Lionel changes his mind! Uché is going to Hollywood!

Country singer Laci Kaye Booth, 23, steps in front of the judges to perform Merle Haggard’s “Mama Tried.” Katy calls Laci a “diamond in the rough.” Luke, who knows a thing or two about country singing, says Laci “slayed it.” In the least surprising news ever, Laci is headed to Hollywood!

Back in Los Angeles, a 17-year-old named Nick Rogers shows off his rapping skills during his performance. Katy and the judges really like his vibe, so he gets the golden ticket to Hollywood! Tiffanne Le May, 20, a huge Lionel fan, gets one of her Lionel albums signed by him before she performs! The judges love her performance of Daniel Caesar’s “Best Part,” so they send her to the City of Angels.

The last performance of the season 17 premiere is Nick Townsend, 26, a production assistant from Nebraska. He’s auditioning for his brothers, who both tragically committed suicide. His performance of James Bay’s “Let It Go” is full of so much raw emotion. Katy notices the “power and level” in Nick’s voice. Luke, who has lost both of his siblings, gives Nick so much credit for “keeping a positive attitude.” All three teary-eyed judges send Nick to Hollywood. Nick’s family comes into the audition room, and the judges give them all hugs. It’s truly a wonderful moment to see how much the judges care about these contestants.

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