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'American Idol' recap: Tears, speedos, and chills, oh my

ABC/Eric McCandlessAmerican Idol is back! 

Season 4 of the ABC singing competition show premiered Sunday night with Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan back in the judges seats and Ryan Seacrest as host. 

Given that the show was filmed during the COVID-19 pandemic, not much looked different aside from the judges being spaced apart. However, new this season, the show created an area where contestants were able to video chat with their loved ones one a 3-panel screen. Other than that, it was business as usual with the judges on a quest to find the next American Idol 

First up to audition was Benson Boone, an 18-year-old from Washington, who, after singing “Punchline” by Aidan Martin, had Katy declaring that he could be the next winner if he wanted to be.

Meanwhile, contestant Anilee List didn’t let her Tourette’s diagnosis stop her from following her dreams. She left Luke covered in goose bumps after her “flawless” rendition of Aaron Taylor‘s “Blue.”

DJ Johnson had the whole room in tears after she sang her original ballad “Scars” — a track she wrote about her mother who up and left her father with their 10 kids. 

Claudia Conway, the daughter of Kellyanne Conway and George Conway, also stopped by the American Idol auditions. She attempted Rihanna‘s “Love On The Brain” before Katy stopped her. Claudia then tried her hand at Adele‘s “When We Were Young,” which convinced Katy and Lionel to send her to Hollywood. 

Rounding out the night was Grace Kinstler. After singing both “Midnight Train To Georgia” by Gladys Knight & the Pips and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin, Luke compared the audition to former American Idol stars Kelly Clarkson and Jennifer Hudson

Of course, it wouldn’t be American Idol if there weren’t a few outlandish wannabes.

Among them was 16-year-old Ryan Romano, who came in “feeling like a million bucks” but the judges weren’t sold that his vocals matched. He didn’t walk away with a trip to Hollywood but he did walk away $400 richer after Katy decided to buy the sequined jacket he was wearing for her father.  

There was also Mario Adrion who showed off his talents while wearing a red and white striped speedo. He didn’t pick up a golden ticket but he did get Katy, Luke, and Lionel up out of their seats for a catwalk battle. 

American Idol returns next Sunday, February 21 at 8 p.m. on ABC.

By Danielle Long
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