'American Idol' Recap: Two-Night Premiere Concludes With More Golden Tickets
American Idol concluded its two-night season XV premiere Thursday. The auditions bounced between Little Rock and San Francisco as more contestants sang for the remaining Hollywood spots in the show’s final season. Season 8 winner Kris Allen stopped by the Little Rock auditions to offer some of his own wisdom and screen some of the Idol hopefuls.
First up in Little Rock, 15-year-old Cameron Richard, who overcame being born with a cleft palette to become a singer, sang “Give Me Love” by Ed Sheeran. He started off the night on the right note, receiving a unanimous "yes" from judges Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban.
Daniel Farmer followed, singing D’Angelo’s “How Does It Feel?” His charisma immediately won Lopez over, and he improvised several runs in the performance that earned him a place in Hollywood.
Dalton Rapattoni made an interesting song choice for his audition, singing an indie-rock rendition of “The Phantom Of The Opera.” “You took this famous Andrew Lloyd Webber song and sang it the way you wanted to sing it,” Connick said. Rapattoni showcased impressive artistry and originality even in a short audition. The judges gave him a golden ticket, and Connick added that it was one of his favorite auditions.
After a quick montage of people who didn’t have what it takes to win the judges over, La’Porsha Renae got things back on track. She sang a stunning rendition of “Creep” by Radiohead. Her runs were technically sound, and Urban noted that she brought a whole new point of view to the lyrics. The judges let Renae’s baby girl, who she brought along to the audition, present her with a golden ticket.
Maddie McAllister brought along one of her family’s chickens for her audition. She sang “Cowboy Casanova” by Carrie Underwood, but the judges just didn’t think her voice was ready.
Also having grown up on a farm, Trent Harmon sang “Unaware” by Allen Stone, instantly blowing Lopez’s mind with his unexpected sound. “You have a lot of soul and lot of dynamics, and it was very your own,” Lopez said. Connick said it was his favorite audition since they started. He sailed on through to Hollywood.
Brook Sample, a 28-year-old waitress, was nervous when she first walked into the audition room, but that snazzy energy disappeared the second she opened her mouth to sing “Cold Day In July” by The Dixie Chicks. Even though Connick said she needs to work on her confidence, he gave her a "yes", joined by Urban and Lopez.
Olivia Rox auditioned with “When I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars, accompanying herself on the piano. “Your voice is really unique,” Urban said, and all three judges told her she’s very talented, sending her to Hollywood.
Connick and Urban noted that most of the contestants advancing were women. “It’s time a girl won,” Lopez said. “F--- the guys.”
Singing “Rise Up” by Andra Day, Melanie Tierce was the next artist to be sent to Hollywood. “That was one of the best auditions I’ve heard in three years,” Connick said.
Malie Delgado, who was Miss Alaska 2014, sang “Chariot” by Gretchen Wilson and also received a golden ticket.
Next, the judges decided to shake things up and let Ryan Seacrest judge from Connick’s chair for an audition. Brandyn Burnette sang for Seacrest, but Connick liked his voice so much, that he came back into the room. Burnette received a rare four-way yes.
Kyrsti Jewel, who attributes her love of singing to American Idol, auditioned next, singing “Mamma Knows Best” by Jessie J. Seacrest brought in Jewel’s parents, also huge Idol fans. Jewel made them proud, receiving her golden ticket.
Singing “Hero,” Sarah Hayes was so nervous that she forgot her words, so she decided to switch to “Invincible” by Kelly Clarkson. Hayes just never found her focus, but Connick still said "yes" to her, blaming part of the frenetic energy on the judges. Lopez and Urban said "no," so she did not advance.
For the last audition of the night, 15-year-old Tristan McIntosh from Nashville sang “Why Baby Why” by Mickey Guyton, accompanying herself on the piano. “That gave me the goosies,” Lopez said, who had tears in her eyes after the audition. She compared McIntosh to Alicia Keys. Connick read a letter from McIntosh’s mother, who is serving in the military overseas and couldn’t be there for her audition, which moved McIntosh and Urban to tears as well. Then her mom appeared for a little surprise to end the episode.
What did you think of tonight’s auditions? Sound off in the comments below.
This article originally appeared in THR.com.