The final auditions for season 17 were incredible from start to finish. The contestants wowed the judges with amazing performances to make it to Hollywood Week during the March 18 episode.
The final auditions that will be showcased during the March 18 episode of American Idol start off in Denver. The first performer is Jade Flores, 22. She reveals she was in a horrible relationship prior to getting engaged. Her ex told her to lose weight and that challenged her self-confidence. But Jade has found her confidence again. She performs a great rendition of Deana Carter’s “Strawberry Wine.” The judges love her vibe and her vocals, so she’s going to Hollywood.
Jakob O’Brien is up next. The 18-year-old is singing an original song that he wrote about how much he loves his country. The performance is just OK, so Katy Perry and Lionel Richie say no to Hollywood for him. But Luke Bryan says yes so he can sign Jakob’s guitar! Talented teen Christiaan Padavan, 19, steps in front of the judges next. He sings a gorgeous version of Billy Joel’s “Vienna.” He brings his girlfriend, Victoria, into the audition room. Before they perform together, they tell Christiaan that he’s going to Hollywood. The couple performs an epic acoustic version of Britney Spears’s “Toxic.” Before his audition ends, Katy asks him to sing Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” and he kills it.
Ryan Hammond, 25, reveals he was raised in the church and actually didn’t like singing at first. He also admits he’s lost 170 pounds in the past year after getting weight loss surgery. He was once 330 pounds and always struggled with his weight. But he faced a major health scare after the surgery. A few days after the initial surgery, he woke up and couldn’t breathe. Ryan went back into surgery and the surgeon found a hole in his stomach. He sings Sam Smith’s “Lay Me Down” for the judges. The judges have critiques but recognize he has a “lot of range.” All three judges give him a yes!
Chloe Channell, 16, is showcased next. She has ’90s country music sensation Billy Dean play guitar for her. Billy is a beloved mentor to Chloe. She performs Keith Urban’s “Stupid Boy.” The judges know she has so much potential. They tell her that her voice was “small at first,” so they just want to hear her belt it. They know she has what it takes to be a star. She’s going to Hollywood! After the audition, Luke and Billy start singing together!
Emma Kleinberg, 21, steps in front of the judges ready to tell her story. Emma and her family haven’t had the easiest year. Her brother, Alex, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and tried to kill himself. As a result, te suffered a brain injury that cut off oxygen to his brain. Emma isn’t ashamed of what happened to her brother. He is and always will be “her rock.” She is sensational singing Allen Stone’s “American Privilege.” Katy declares that Emma is “probably the best one we’ve heard today.” Needless to say, she’s going to Hollywood!
Country singer Zebulon Spencer, 27, performs next with his guitar in hand. The judges have a few critiques for him, but Luke notes that Zebulon’s voice is one of his favorites country voices from the past two seasons! He’s headed to Los Angeles for Hollywood Week! The judges are looking for another gem, and they find one in Jorgie, 23. He brings his band along for the performance. Jorgie tells the judges that he recently came out and says Katy was a big inspiration to him growing up. His parents have no idea that he’s gay, but he’s ready to step out of the closet. He performs an original song called “Heaven,” something he wrote for a man he had a crush on. Lionel says Jorgie “nailed it.” They are all in awe of him. In the least surprising news ever, he’s going to Hollywood.
Nick Merico’s first claim to fame was the Nickelodeon show Every Witch Way. The 22-year-old loves acting, but music has his heart. Katy can barely talk in front of Nick because he’s so adorable! He performs Amy Winehouse’s “Back To Black” on the piano. The judges love it. Katy asks him if he’s single! His answer: YES! Katy admits that there are other people who have better voices than Nick does, but he’s got other pieces of the puzzles. The judges want to see what he can do next. He’s one of the lucky ones headed to Hollywood!
American Idol season 16 winner Maddie Poppe surprises the judges by getting dressed up in a head-to-toe gothic outfit. Catie Turner and other finalists stop by for a visit, including runner-up Caleb Lee Hutchinson! One of his good friends, Jared Sanders, 20, is auditioning for season 17. The firefighter wants to be the next American Idol. He croons to a George Strait hit in front of the judges and Caleb. “I love the twang in your thang,” Lionel says. Luke tells Jared that he’s not “blown away” by his voice, but loves his character. Lionel says yes, but Katy and Luke say no to Hollywood. They want him to come back when he hones his voice a bit!
The last performance of the final auditions is Jackson Gillies, 19. He’s had major health issues over the years, including diabetes and an auto-immune condition called HS. The condition causes painful and permanent scars. He performs an epic and edgy rendition of “Make It Rain” by Foy Vance. All three judges happily give him a ticket to Hollywood.