'American Idol' recap: Judges send 15 singers to Hollywood -- including Laine Hardy and Brandon Diaz
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/13/2018
American Idol continued its auditions in different cities across America and featured 15 hopefuls advancing to the next round during Monday night's two-hour broadcast of Season 16 on ABC.
The show's judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan were shown critiquing each aspiring singer and determining whether he or she should receive a golden ticket to Hollywood, CA.
A handful of contestants delivered standout, jaw-dropping performances: Mara Justine, Brandon Diaz, Laine Hardy, Thaddeus Johnson, and Rissa Watson.
Mara, a 15-year-old high school student from Galloway, NJ sang "Love On the Brain" by Rihanna, and she received a standing ovation from all three judges in which they applauded and cheered for her. Without question, it was a unanimous yes.
Brandon, a 21-year-old college student from Ashburn, VA, who currently resides in Boston, MA, sang "Unaware" by Allen Stone and received three yeses from the judges.
"I'm amazed by the falsetto to the point of just wanting to remove myself from the room for a minute," Lionel gushed.
Katy later added, "He's the best male singer we've seen so far and I think he's Top 10."
Laine, a 17-year-old high school student from Livingston, LA, performed "Hurricane" by Band of Heathens with a surprising raspy and deep sound to his voice.
"I think if you ain't careful you might win American Idol," Luke admitted.
"You're in," Katy said without any further thought.
"You've got fire in those vocal cords," Lionel said, before Laine learned he was going to Hollywood with flying colors.
Thaddeus, a 25-year-old pub server from Oklahoma City, OK, previously auditioned for Season 9 of American Idol but got cut during Hollywood Week.
Thaddeus returned for Season 16 as a new man physically, mentally and emotionally after losing a substantial amount of weight.
Thaddeus sang "Don't You Worry Child" by Swedish House Mafia. Lionel noted his voice is "an incredible machine," and Katy said she can't wait to see him push his instrument even further. It was an easy three yeses for Thaddeus.
Rissa, a 17-year-old high school student Apache, OK, belted out "When We Were Young " by Adele.
Katy gushed about how Rissa gave her "full body chills for the first time" that day. And Lionel explained that Rissa sucked him into her world with the beauty of her voice. Luke added that Riss has "the voice of an angel," and she received a golden ticket without hesitation.
Another four artists who survived the cut were Andrew Weaver, a 16-year-old high school student from Bremen, GA; Griffin Tucker, a 15-year-old high school student from Dallas, TX; Christina Jones, an 18-year-old high school student from O'Fallon, IL; and Cameron Theodos, a 25-year-old high school basketball coach from Shreveport, LA.
William Casanova, a 26-year-old women's shoe salesman from Washington, D.C. was up next, and he performed "Song For You" by Donny Hathaway.
Lionel described William's performance as "smoove," not just smooth. It was clear William was battling a case of nervous, but the judges had no complaints and decided on a unanimous "yes" to send him to Hollywood.
"You're exactly what I signed up for," Luke told the aspiring singer. "You're everything I wanted and more."
Michelle Sussett, a 22-year-old from Venezuela, who currently resides in Miami, FL, sang, danced a little salsa and really entertained with her performance of Selena's "Techno Cumbia." Her energy level was through the roof, and Katy thought she was "cute" while Lionel called her "fearless."
The judging panel agreed Michelle should get a shot to go to Hollywood, but Katy wasn't entirely convinced Michelle could compete with the level of talent they had already found.
Trevor Holmes, a 27-year-old construction worker from Thousand Oaks, CA, then performed Brett Young's "In Case You Didn't Know," and Luke admitted, "Good Lord you're a dreamboat." Katy had an obvious crush on Trevor, to the point she had to leave the room because he looked "so hot."
Trevor had a girlfriend, but he also confessed to having the biggest crush on Katy for years. Although Trevor broke Katy's heart by being in a relationship with someone else, the three judges determined he must go to Hollywood.
Gabbii Jones, a 24-year-old caretaker from St. Louis, MO, then sang "Dangerous Woman" for the judges.
Lionel said it was really good but there were things she needed to tone down. Katy acknowledged Ariana Grande songs are very hard to sing because she's one of the best vocalists in the industry right now and she appreciated the grit and rock Gabbii brought to the song.
Due to the "unique dimension" in Gabbii's voice, the judges sent her to Hollywood.
Garrett Jacobs, a 17-year-old high school student from Bossier City, LA, was up next and belted out JAmes Brown's "It's a Man's Man's Man's World."
Lionel called the quality of his voice "fantastic," adding that he can "go places" with that gift. Not only did Luke think Garrett, standing 6'4" was beautiful to look at, but he also noted his performance was "raw" and "badass."
Katy told Garrett that he was "spectacular to look at" but his guitar seemed to be holding him back. However, Garrett received a golden ticket.
Last up was David Francisco, a 25-year-old musician from Nashville, TN, who sang "Isn't She Lovely" by Stevie Wonder and made Katy cry. David had a very inspirational story about slowly recovering from an accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down.
In addition, a handful of artists were unfortunately shown being cut from the competition.
They were Misha Gontar, a 26-year-old MRI technologist from Marengo, IL; Autumn Woods, a 27-year-old library clerk from Katy, TX; "Hank the Businessman," a 22-year-old delivery driver from Pittsburgh, PA; Neshia Ruffins, a 25-year-old singer from New Orleans; and Jonathan Herman, a 23-year-old content analyst from Austin, TX.