There’s Forrest Gump parodies starring Luke Bryan, songs about sardines, and gas leaks. All in a day’s work for the American Idol audition rounds. We’re back to criss-crossing the country in the hopes of finding the “America’s next superstar.” We’re also back to reveal that Luke Bryan is, like, really good at roller skating and now I am requesting a music video of him and Katy Perry on skates the entire time. What can I say? The heart wants what it wants.

What my heart also wants is to find some other great contestants to send along to the next round. That will for sure not include the sardine song girl, nor the teen who wants to be on Broadway and refuses to learn pop songs and yet still thought American Idol would be a good fit for her. I don’t know, it’s been 18 seasons, you think people would get it by now. At least the people below get it, and because of that, they are all rewarded with golden tickets to Hollywood Week. Let’s see who else will be joining us in the next round.

Cyniah Elise, 17, Atlanta, Ga.
“You Are the Reason” by Calum Scott
Cyniah has arrived in Savannah to audition for Idol with a big family contingent who are praying for all the contestants, but just a little bit more for Cyniah. It seems to work, because this high school student walks into the audition room with all the confidence of, well, someone who is not a 17-year-old high school student and sings her little heart out. An angel! She has great control and shows off some true vocal dynamics. Lionel tells her she reminds him of seeing a young Whitney Houston sing. Luke is blown away by how natural it all sounded. Cyniah is easily making it to the next round. The power of prayer, people!

Kay Gynse, 19, High Point, N.C.
“Mercy” by Duffy
Speaking of confidence, Kay Gynse is boiling over with it. She’s giving herself a pep talk into the mirror before going in to wow the judges, but she doesn’t even need one. She knows her worth! Also, a fortune cookie told her to audition, so, the universe is in her corner, apparently. When she sings, she performs well, but her vocals leave a lot to be desired. She’s extremely pitchy throughout the entire audition. Luke gives her a ‘no’ off the bat, but as Kay begs for a chance, Katy decides to let her sing for her life out on the street. If the crowd is with her, she’ll give her a ‘yes’. Kay definitely sounds better the second time around and earns a golden ticket, but I fear she’ll have trouble keeping up with some of the more seasoned contestants as the competition moves forward.

Kyle Tanguay, 21, Rochester, N.H.
“Mercy” by Shawn Mendes
I-D-O-L Idol! Kyle is a cheerleader for the Philadelphia Eagles – imagine if he weren’t and that was just my intro to his blurb because I like spelling things? What a world! – and he’s brought the whole squad along with him for moral sport. It is both fun and overwhelming. More interesting, Kyle has never sung in front of a crowd before. Thankfully, they don’t make him go out into the streets to warm up and just let him do his thing. He…is good? There are definitely moments when he’s straining, and Luke and Katy have him re-do the song in a different key, but there is some real talent there. He’ll have a lot to work on before heading to Hollywood, but let’s hear it for potential! P-O-T-E-N- okay, you get it.

Jovin Webb, 28, Gonzales, La.
“Whipping Post” by The Allman Brothers
Well, I think we can all pack up and go home now. Jovin Webb should probably win this competition, I think? It’s not just his goosebump-inducing rasp or the confidence and clarity with which he sings, but on top of both those gifts, he is also able to pour all of his pain into his song. We learn that his mother passed away in 2012 and it sent him into a self-destructive spiral, and having his son was the only thing that saved him. He’s auditioning for him. Katy tells Jovin he gives her “chills in her cheekbones” and Luke says that he could sit back, sip on some bourbon, and listen to his voice all day. “I saw your whole life in that performance,” he gushes. Jovin Webb for Idol 2020!

Margie Mays, 26, Wilmington, Del.
“I Found a Boy” by Adele
Does the name Margie Mays sound familiar to you? It should! Margie Mays made it into last season’s Top 40, before being cut in Hawaii. If that doesn’t refresh your memory, perhaps you remember the girl who spoke in beeps and whistles to Katy Perry while holding her arms over her head? There you go. Margie is back this season with a more serious outlook on things. I mean, she still takes time to make weird noises at Katy Perry, but otherwise, she is the picture of maturity. More importantly, she has been working on her vocals. I’m with Luke here: Margie has definitely improved on the technical side, but there wasn’t much to get excited about emotionally. There was a lack of connection. Katy is a fan of Margie’s in general, but is less than impressed, so votes ‘no’ on sending her to Hollywood again. The boys, however, want to give Margie Mays another shot. She’s back, guys!

Johnny West, 23, Murietta, Calif.
Original Song by Johnny West
Well, isn’t this cute? Johnny West here is actually Margie’s boyfriend, and he first comes in to play piano for her audition. Then, Margie leaves and Johnny gets to show the judges what he’s all about. You guys, he’s excellent. It’s cool, smooth, and effortless. Well, okay, I’m still processing the rap he does in the middle of his original song on the piano, but his voice in the other parts of the performance is a stand-out. The judges perk up as soon as he starts singing and Katy’s not wrong when she warns Johnny that there’s a strong possibility he goes further than his girlfriend in this competition.

Sarah Isen, 20, Berkeley, Calif.
“If I Were a Boy” by Beyoncé
Oh okay, my alto soul sister! I love a singer with a strong low end to their range. Sarah comes into the audition with much more than that: She also brings along her two moms, her sperm donor, and a whole gaggle of half-siblings who all share the same biological father. It’s wild and amazing. Her singing is pretty great, too. There are some spots where she goes off course, but the judges attribute it to nerves — plus her low register and rasp are so interesting, it would be hard to turn Sarah away this early in the game. Katy wants her to come back and wow them with more dynamics in her performance.

Julia Gargano, 21, Staten Island, N.Y.
“Growing Pains” by Julia Gargano
Okay, so Jovin Webb has some competition. Songwriter Julia decided to audition for American Idol after seeing fellow songwriters Catie Turner and Alejandro Aranda in previous seasons, and figured it could be a good fit for her as well. Bless her. First of all, her song is as the kids say, fire (do the kids still say that?). Her voice is soulful and has some rasp to it, and the entire thing is just flat-out gorgeous. Again, you can see the judges getting excited as the performance goes on. This is what they signed up for. Luke sums it up, “She is a star” he says, as she walks off with one of the easiest golden tickets to hand out.

Curt Jones, 23 & Hannah Prestridge, 24, Rockdale, Tex.
“Help Me Hold On” by Travis Tritt & “Day By Day” by Hannah Prestridge
Curt and Hannah are a married couple who perform together and decide to head into the audition room together. We learn that when Hannah was pregnant with their first child, she suffered some complications, ended up on pain medication, and became addicted. Things got so bad for them that Curt had to give her an ultimatum: He and their two daughters would leave if she didn’t get clean. She’s a year sober now. Curt saved Hannah’s life and here they are trying to make their dreams come true together. Curt auditions first, and he had a fine country voice, but you can already tell that he is not the star of this duo. And then Hannah sings and you immediately get it. All of her pain is there in her voice and it is gutting. And then Curt says, of course if Hannah gets through and he doesn’t he’ll support her. He’ll always support her. And now we’re all bawling. Because of course Hannah is going to Hollywood and Curt is not, but everyone is still happy because finally good things are happening. Please don’t ruin this, American Idol.

Well, not even a gas leak at the audition site in Oregon could stop us from finding some talent to send on to the next round. Who are you already looking forward to seeing again during Hollywood Week?

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American Idol

Ryan Seacrest hosts as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan guide aspiring singers on their way to superstardom.

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