‘American Idol’ Week 2 Auditions Filled With Emotional Family Dedications (RECAP)

Lady K
ABC/Eric McCandless

The judges have high hopes for season 20 of American Idol. And round two of the auditions gave them more reasons to feel that way.

Before the star-studded panel headed to work, Luke Bryan took Katy Perry and Lionel Richie and host Ryan Seacrest on a scenic driving tour of Nashville and Broadway. And during a lunch break later in the show, there was an impromptu duet between Luke and Katy, who started formulating a song about queso. I can taste a hit.

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As for Idol hopefuls themselves, there was another crop of strong performances, from beauty queen to grocery store employee. One teen wowed the judges so much they earned the second platinum ticket, which gave them a leg up on “Hollywood Week.”

In the end, we witnessed fireworks (actually and vocally). Here are the most memorable auditions this week.

Betty Maxwell

Betty Maxwell

ABC/Eric McCandless

The 27-year-old Miss America 2016 explained it was her dream to voice a Disney princess (She does a pretty good Belle and Ariel impersonation!). This Warner Robins, Georgia peach proved to have the goods singing “A Moment Like This” by Kelly Clarkson. Katy asked if she could sing a little country. The beauty queen obliged with “Jesus Take the Wheel” by Carrie Underwood. Luke said she sings like a real singer and not just a pageant girl. Katy thinks there is a lot to work with. Lionel wants her to have a style. She got three yeses, even though Katy really wanted to wear the crown. It didn’t happen. Maybe in “Hollywood Week”?

Leah Marlene

Leah Marlene

ABC/Eric McCandless

The 20-year-old from Normal, Illinois proved anything but. The fun ball of energy provided a unique rendition of One Direction’s “Steal My Girl.” Katy asked the singer-songwriter if she happened to have an original they could hear. Leah chose “Wish Her to the Well.” The panel was feeling quirky Catie Turner vibes. Lionel could see character. Luke found her unpredictable. The unanimous vote will take her from “Normal to Hollyweird.”

Mike Parker

MIKE PARKER

ABC/Eric McCandless

Music runs in the family for the 27-year-old carpenter from Warrenton, Virginia with his parents in a band together. However, Mike revealed his mom wasn’t doing so well and was in the hospital for what might be leukemia. He performed Deana Carter’s “Strawberry Wine” in her honor. Luke had chill bumps and sees him as a country singer with the potential to be truly amazing. Katy believes he is at least Top 24 material. Lionel feels he has all the goods to make it. An emotional scene played out later when Mike presented the golden ticket he received to his mom in the hospital.

Kelsie Dolan

KELSIE DOLIN

ABC/Eric McCandless)

The 18-year-old from Boone County, West Virginia tugged at the heartstrings through her story. Her grandparents stepped in to care for her. Last September, Kelsie’s grandmother passed away after health complications including a bout with COVID. She wanted to make her proud in the audition. The timid teen managed to show singing chops on “Piece by Piece” by Kelly Clarkson. Katy brought a little more out of her as Kelsie performed “When We Were Young.” The judges teared up watching. They put her through.

Skylie Thompson

SKYLIE THOMPSON

ABC/Eric McCandless

The 17-year-old from Cyril, Oklahoma was backed up by dad on guitar. They performed their original “Buckle Bunny.” Luke thought it was cute, but wanted to hear a little more on a cover. She chose “Oklahoma City” by Zach Bryan. Katy thought the original song was well written, but the cover was better in the vocal delivery. The judges thought she needed seasoning and was ready just yet. They encouraged her to keep gaining experience.

Luke Taylor

LUKE G. TAYLOR

ABC/Eric McCandless

James Earl Jones may have some competition with this 20-year-old from West Chester, Pennsylvania. Luke performed “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash. Judge Luke had him do “Frosty The Snowman” next because why not? Katy saw him as a little bit one-dimensional and borderline gimmicky. Luke was sold. Lionel wants to see what he does in “Hollywood Week.” Two votes were enough to send him through. If Idol doesn’t work, he can have a successful career voicing movie trailers.

Kenedi Anderson

KENEDI ANDERSON

ABC/Eric McCandless

You may have seen this 17-year-old standout from Crozet, Virginia in the trailers. She did not disappoint on “Applause” by Lady Gaga. The judges’ reaction looked like they were seeing dollar signs throughout. They gave her a standing ovation. Katy didn’t know how she wasn’t recruited before, checking all the boxes. Lionel said she answered their prayers. Luke believes she might be the biggest star they’ve seen. A surefire Top 10. They loved her so much present the second platinum ticket of the season. It allows her the chance to skip one of the rounds of “Hollywood Week.”

Aaron Westberry

AARON WESTBERRY

ABC/Eric McCandless

The 20-year-old from Greenville, South Carolina didn’t have much experience singing in front of an audience. That didn’t stop the judges from witnessing raw talent shine on Sam Hunt’s “2016.” Katy said the grocery store employee reminded her of Owen Wilson. Luke felt he had heartbreak in his tone. Katy thinks he was really good with a voice that makes them melt. The judges made comparisons to Owl City but likened his delivery as a storyteller to James Taylor. His days stocking shelves at the supermarket might be over.

Allegra Miles

ALLEGRA MILES

ABC/Eric McCandless

Fans of The Voice may remember the 18-year-old from St. John, Virgin Islands where she was a semi-finalist for season 18. Luke said everything about her looks like an artist. Lionel found her songwriting amazing. Katy added when she gets in the next gear, it’s those moments they look for in the show and competition.

Christian Guardino

CHRISTIAN GUARDINO

ABC/Eric McCandless

The 21-year-old Patchogue, New Yorker’s personality caught the eye of the judges early in the audition. Then he laid down “Song for You” by Donny Hathaway. Lionel left the judging table to give him a hug because he thought it was so good. Mom Beth came into the room and also received a hug from Lionel. Christian left Luke filled with excitement. Katy says he has a voice of gold, and a heart of gold, and now had the ticket of gold.

Lady K

Lady K

ABC/Eric McCandless)

Even before the 25-year-old from Tuskegee, Alabama sang one note, she presented the judges with cards. Tokens of appreciation she said they couldn’t open until after they sent her to “Hollywood or Hollyhood.” Prior to the audition, she spoke about living at one point in a shelter, growing up with a single mom. Lady K chose to do Katy’s own “Wide Awake” as it symbolizes her journey. The performance was dedicated to her brother who committed suicide. Katy felt it was like she reinvented the song. Luke felt her voice was magic and honest. Lionel said she landed here for a purpose. The judges then read heartwarming cards from Lady K after she left, golden ticket in hand. Hollywood it is.

American Idol, Sundays, 8/7c, ABC