Hunter Metts was well on his way to crushing a cover of the iconic 2007 Oscar-winning song “Falling Slowly” from the movie Once during Sunday night’s (April 18) tribute to Academy Award-nominated songs.
The 22-year-old Tennessee software developer had landed the soaring falsetto and emotional intensity of the song, cementing his status as one to watch this season. And then he flubbed the landing.
After clearly forgetting the words in the final line, Metts smiled and then burst into tears as the judge Katy Perry jumped up to praise him and loudly clap for the performance. The singer was, however, inconsolable. “That happens in a live performance,” host Ryan Seacrest assured him from a safe social distance as Metts’ eyes welled-up and turned red.
“Hunter! Hunter!” Perry yelled as Metts apologized to the panel. “That was the best performance you have ever given… Perfection is an illusion. It’s an illusion. It doesn’t matter. That shows that you are a human and vulnerable. And everybody relates to that. It’s amazing, it’s emotion. That’s what music is! I know this is a lot of pressure, but it’s not about perfection. It’s about resonating with people, and you just did… what an incredible song choice. You connected with us. You kept your eyes open, your heart open, you were so connected you forgot where you were and that is perfect.”
Luke Bryan, back from his COVID-19 quarantine, seconded that emotion. “Hunter, man it was intense for me to watch you today,” he said. “It was a series of emotions that you took me on a crazy ride. I don’t even know what happened at the end, but, listen, I didn’t care. You did no wrong. You could do no wrong in that moment,” Bryan added, heaping praise on Metts’ falsetto.
Lionel Richie had some sage words of advice too, explaining that some of his best shows are ones where he forgot the lyrics to such iconic hits as “Hello” and the audience jumped in to help him bring it home. “What I’m saying to you… if you had not done that it was called a perfect run. Now that you did that it was absolutely a perfect run,” Richie said.
Sunday night’s episode also featured performances from Grace Kinstler, Ava August, Caleb Kennedy, Madison Watkins, Chayce Beckham, Beane, Alyssa Wray, Deshawn Goncalves, Casey Bishop, Cassandra Coleman and Willie Spence singing Oscar-worthy songs for a chance to make the top nine; August, Watkins and Beane were sent home.
Monday night’s (April 19) show will feature 10 finalists from last season vying for a spot in this this year’s top 10 with guest performances from Lauren Daigle and Harry Connick Jr.
Watch Metts’ performance below.