‘American Idol’ Week 3 Auditions: The Top 8, From a ‘Country Justin Beiber’ to a Down-on-Her-Luck Singer Who Slays (VIDEO)

Alanis Sophia
ABC/John Fleenor
ABC/John Fleenor

Another crop of American Idol hopefuls have received their golden ticket during week 3 of auditions, inching closer to “Hollywood Week.” But not before Katy Perry sat down with fellow judges Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan for a meditation session. Namaste!

The relaxing activity probably helped considering the emotional roller coaster the trio were taken on in San Diego and Ojai. Here are the must-see auditions that tugged at the heartstrings and kept the tears flowing.

Cecil Ray Baker Gets Them Talking

The 20-year-old faced tragedy early in life, losing his friend, brother, and uncle to suicide at a young age. Despite the hardships, the small-town Texan found the light through music and his new baby. Katy described him as the “Country Justin Bieber’ after he sang Morgan Wallen’s ‘Talkin’ Tennessee.” And they all told the newbie singer to stop his moving around on stage and to chill.

Graham DeFranco Flies High With ‘Part One’

Luke called the 27-year-old pilot one of the most listenable voices they’ve heard. His rendition of the Band of Horses song was more than enough to get him through to the next round. Papa Lionel encouraged the Texan to be confident in his abilities. This prompted DeFranco to follow host Ryan Seacrest in the bathroom where he took a good look in the mirror and said, “Oh my god, that’s Graham DeFranco.”

Mary Jo Young Sings to Mom for First Time

The 19-year-old is used to singing on social media, but hasn’t performed live since her fourth grade talent show. Amazing considering how she floored the judges singing Tate McCrae’s “You Broke Me First.” Katy compared her to Julia Michaels while Luke saw a potential top 10. When the judges heard she had never performed live for her mother, the judges brought her out and Young then performed “Bruises” by Lewis Capaldi to one very happy mom.

Christian McGuckian Sings ‘Girl Crush’

The 20-year-old housekeeper got in a car accident a few months ago, which left her with cracked ribs. This experience pushed the the South Carolinian to pursue her dream. McGuckian fought back nerves and tears to get through the rendition of the Little Big Town hit. It was just enough to get the coveted yes.

Alanis Sophia Isn’t Just ‘Anyone’

If you’re wondering, yes, the 19-year-old was named after Alanis Morissette. Sophia’s mom, who had Alanis when she was 19, was a diehard fan and attributes the award-winning singer-songwriter for saving her life. The judges were sold on the teen after her performance of Anyone by Demi Lovato. She actually sang into her childhood American Idol toy microphone.

Erika Perry Phones Home

Erika Perry (no relation to Katy) may be her “government name,” but she calls herself E.T. because she believes she is extra terrestrial. Lionel wondered whether the 26-year-old’s odd singing was her style or a gimmick after hearing the rendition of Katy’s own collaboration with Kanye West’s ET. After taking the heels off and giving a more stripped down performance of Amy Winehouse’s Valerie she got the golden ticket. Erika’s boyfriend just broke up with her, so success might be the best revenge.

Hunter Metts Wins Over Judges With ‘All the Pretty Girls’

The 22-year-old waited three years for his moment to audition, mostly because his sister Maddie worked for Disney, which made it a conflict of interest for the family to try out. Maddie quit her job, clearing the way for her bro to show his stuff with a performance of “All the Pretty Girls” by Kaleo. Katy and Luke both predict a Top 10 finish for the software engineer.

Ronda Felton Packs an Emotional Punch

It was hard not to tear up hearing Felton’s recounting her hardships. She and her single mom, who worked multiple jobs to help them survive, have, at times, been homeless. Lionel calmed the 19-year-old and gave her his handkerchief to dry up the eyes. (Too bad, as he could have used it when his waterworks started.) Once Ronda regained her composure, she slayed with “One Night Only” from the movie Dreamgirls and sung by Idol alum Jennifer Hudson. Mom came in the room to receive the good news her daughter was headed to Hollywood and then got to sing favorite song “Zoom” by The Commodores with Lionel.

American Idol, Sundays, 8/7c, ABC