Country music was well-represented on Sunday (Feb. 27) in just the first few minutes of American Idol’s highly-anticipated Season 20 premiere.
The show welcomed Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie back to its judging panel, and did not disappoint with its search of finding some of the nation’s most promising artists, even on its debut night.
19-year-old construction worker Noah Thompson of Louisa, Ky., was first to show off his pure, raw talent, thanks to his good buddy Arthur, who signed him up for the singing competition.
In a pre-recorded segment, ahead of his audition, Thompson told viewers, that as a kid, all he thought about was playing music. “Being famous, where I’m from, you don’t get many opportunities. My family and friends believe in me. I’ve just never believed in myself,” he says. “It’s pretty cool to know that somebody believes in you more than you believe in yourself.”
Standing in front of the judging panel with his guitar in hand, Thompson was miles away from hanging sheetrock. He sampled his twang vocals on a cover of “Giving You Up” by Kameron Marlowe, but appeared to lack conviction. Nonetheless, judges were already hooked and offered Thompson a second chance to prove he deserved a shot at Hollywood Week.
“Alright, Noah, I don’t want to touch your accent,” Bryan interjected halfway through the chorus of the song, “But sing the chorus one more time, and this time be a little more deliberate with the lyrics.”
For his second go-round, Thompson seemed to find his footing and delivered a chorus with his earnest vocals. He even had Bryan mouthing out the words “perfect” in response to the performance. Thompson also earned himself a nod of approval from pop-superstar Perry.
“You’ve got a real-life storyteller bada– voice. It’s believable.” Richie shared. “Now, I don’t know what you were expecting. I know you weren’t expecting that, and that’s why I said it the way I said it.”
“You’re why this job is cool,” Bryan added.
Needless to say, Thompson scored a Golden Ticket to Hollywood, celebrating the opportunity with his buddy, Arthur, afterward.
This season of American Idol has only just begun, but already things are looking a little bit differently in contrast to earlier seasons. In honor of the 20th season, the show introduced folks to the highly sought-after Platinum Ticket. Unlike the famous Golden Ticket, this ticket allows deserving artists to bypass the first round of Hollywood week. Only three artists at each audition stop will receive the Platinum Ticket, which requires judges to vote unanimously.
Also new this season, country star Jimmie Allen and pop superstar and Florida Georgia Line “Meant to Be” collaborator Bebe Rexha will share mentor duties. That role previously belonged to Bobby Bones for the past four seasons.
Fans can look for all-new episodes of American Idol every Sunday at 8PM ET on ABC.
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