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‘American Idol’ Recap: Country Hitmaker Shawn Camp’s Fiancée & Others Try Their Luck

American Idol
ABC/Eliza Morse

Lauren Mascitti on American Idol.

Trying to nail down the mood of American Idol judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan on any given audition day is a slippery task.

For instance, country crooner Ryan Harmon from Lamar, Arkansas swings through and belts out an original called “I Knew This Would Happen” with gusto. Alas, the three pros at the table think he’s not quite ready for prime time. They encourage him to try his luck in Nashville instead. On the flip side, Katy Perry superfan Geena Fontanella from Los Angeles scores a golden ticket, even though her performance of original tune “Don’t Want You Back” is bland on bland.

Later, Katy’s spirits soar when she realizes the building the Los Angeles auditions are being held in is the same one where Orlando Bloom proposed to her on the rooftop. Subsequently, a flurry of contestants benefit from the “California Gurls” singer’s good mood, as we see Amelia (no last name needed) from Phoenix, Erin Kirby from Jasper, Georgia and Jordan Jones from Scottsdale, Arizona all sail on through to the new round. The latter gent capitalizes on his triumphant moment by proposing to his girlfriend in front of Lionel, Katy and Luke. Golly.

Behold, some of the further highlights of this week. 

Kimmy Gabriela

Seventeen-year-old Kimmy from Lakeland, Florida is determined to follow in her musician father’s footsteps. And she’s off to a pretty great start as she tackles OneRepublic’s “Let’s Hurt Tonight,” because all three judges are here for it. Katy asks Kimmy to follow that performance up with a song sung in Spanish. The teenager complies, which prompts Katy to ask, “You decided to come for American Idol real hard, didn’t you?”

Lauren Mascitti

In Savannah, country singer Lauren shows up with her guitar-toting fiancé, who just happens to be hit-making songwriter Shawn Camp. Lauren explains that she was adopted and raised by her grandparents in Ohio before relocating to Nashville. Her original number “If I Could Lose You” has Lionel telling the contestant she possesses “a storyteller quality.” Luke adds that Lauren can hold a room with her style, and so it’s a yes all around for advancing.

Courtney Timmons

This 22-year-old from Harris Neck, Georgia found out about the audition too late to officially throw her hat in the ring, so she opts to just sit outside the venue in the off chance someone from the Idol crew might spot her. The reality TV gods smile upon Courtney when that someone turns out to be Ryan Seacrest, who personally escorts her inside -- screening process be damned. The 22-year-old security guard lets ‘er rip with Andra Day’s “Rise Up,” which brings both Katy and proud Ryan to tears. “You are a bird, girl,” Lionel tells the young contestant. And off she goes to La La Land.

Dewayne Crocker

Pensacola, Florida’s Dewayne Crocker has something in common resident pop queen Katy in that they’re both PKs, or preacher’s kids. Dewayne’s great-grandmother is also the world’s biggest Lionel Richie fan, and she celebrates the occasion by accompanying Dewayne to his audition wrapped in leopard print. The 23 year old gives us an unlikely stripped-down take on Bobby McFerrin’s a cappella chestnut “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” that, as Lionel states, perfectly shows off the timbre of his voice. “I think you’ve got the goods,” says Richie. 

While both Luke and Lionel push Dewayne on through to Tinsel Town, Katy admits that “it’s a roll of the dice for me.” Once again, the judges prove to be moody and unpredictable in this episode.

Dillon James

With his full torso tattooed and guitar in hand, 26-year-old Dillon from Bakersfield, California fills the judges in on his past struggles with drug and alcohol addiction. Now in recovery for two years, Dillon has the full support of his family, and he’s here to give his unique vocal take on Bob Dylan staple “Make You Feel My Love.”

“Your voice is a little not what I expected,” Luke admits. “But I’m in all the way. Katy says Dillon is mysterious, and rightly asks how he expects to stay sober if he does indeed make it to “the City of Lost Angels.” The Californian explains that he’s found inner peace through meditation, and that seems to be good enough for the judges. Away he goes with a ticket.

Shannon Gibbons

Though only 20, Long Island native Shannon Gibbs gigs around with a band made up “of middle-aged men.” Ahead of her audition, she reveals that she’s struggled with depression her entire life and even felt suicidal around the time she was in kindergarten. Therapy has helped her greatly over the years, she says, and she pours all of her heart and soul into a rather astounding rendition of Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind.”

“This is why I keep coming back to this show, Shannon,” Katy says, in awe. Luke declares that the contestant “is our new barometer” for deciding who to let through. Needless to say, we’ll be seeing Shannon in Hollywood.

The Rest

Where would Idol be without roasting a few contestants for the cameras? Witness, Jared Lettow (yep, it sounds like it looks) from Katy’s neck of the woods in Santa Barbara, who yodels his way through what feels like an eternal take on some song or other. There’s also Isaiah Grass from Chicago via North Carolina via South Carolina  who is “a model, actor and social media influencer.” He’s shown up with his “manager/agent/best friend” to give a theatrical take on A-ha’s “Take on Me.” Neither of these guys go through to Hollywood, but, thanks, Idol producers, for the suffering.

The night ends on a heart-tugging note when Genevieve Linkowski, a previous contestant who made it to the Hollywood round in 2018, returns to sing Michael Bolton’s “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You.” The song is a particularly poignant choice, as Genevieve’s sister died in a car crash exactly one year ago.

“Tragedy can either destroy you or make you stronger,” says Lionel. And with that, Genevieve gets her second shot at Idol stardom.

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