So, you’ve discovered your babysitter is an amazing singer. Pros? Going viral on TikTok. Cons? Your babysitter gets scooped up by American Idol, meaning you have to find someone else to watch the kids Friday nights.
That’s what happened to Nicki Unplugged, a TikTok “momfluencer” who took a sneaky video of Delaney Renee belting out The Little Mermaid‘s “Part of Your World” while looking after her daughter. So many viewers loved the 18-year-0ld’s voice that the video has since raked in over 16 million views, catapulting her to an impressive appearance on Idol’s Sunday (Feb. 27) season 20 premiere, with Nicki cheering her on from the wings.
Renee sang a soft but mighty version of Sia‘s “Opportunity” for her audition, a track written for the 2014 adaptation of Annie. Backed by sultry guitar, her performance was so gorgeous it made judge Katy Perry try to snatch her babysitting credentials up for herself: “What’s your hourly rate, and do you do 1-year-olds?” asked Perry, who shares daughter Daisy with Orlando Bloom.
Perry, who called the performance “amazing” and fellow judges Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan unanimously moved Renee on to the next round of Idol, but first advised her to channel more power in her vocals. “There’s still a lot of youthfulness in your voice,” Bryan said. “I think if we could get you to roughen up some edges, we could throw you into this crazy competition.”
According to Nicki, the now Hollywood-bound vocalist used to be too shy and self-conscious to post videos of herself singing. But when the momfluencer — who has two kids — secretly recorded her babysitter playing Barbies with Nicki’s daughter Leila, Renee was able to see herself through others’ eyes and gave the OK to post. Based on behind-the-scenes clips posted to Instagram, Nicki has been with Renee for every step of her Idol journey. “I was in total proud mama bear mode,” she wrote on one video of Renee getting ready to audition.
“Way to lose your babysitter,” Bryan told Nicki following Renee’s performance. Replied Nicki, “It’s all right, we’ll share her with the world.”
“Way to see her when she couldn’t see herself,” Perry said on the mom-babysitter duo’s way out.
Watch Delaney Renee go from babysitter to Hollywood-bound American Idol contestant below: