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'American Idol' judges advance 12 hopefuls to Hollywood -- including Crystal Alicea, Effie Passero and Johnny White


By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/19/2018 

American Idol's judges advanced 12 artists to the next round during Sunday night's two-hour episode of Season 16 on ABC.

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The show's judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan were shown critiquing each aspiring singer in different cities across the country and determining whether he or she should receive a golden ticket to Hollywood, CA.

Several contestants impressed the judges and really stood out as "Top 10 material," according to Katy.

Crystal Alicea, a 20-year-old retail associate from Winter Haven, FL, sang "Lay Me Down" by Sam Smith.

Crystal brought Katy to tears and Luke said she "finished unbelievably wonderful." Katy said she has "a fantastic personality" and an undeniable "it factor." Katy added that the contestant seemed "relatable" and "down to earth."

The three judges agreed she was special and could be a star, so they all said "yes" to sending her to Hollywood. Lionel thought Crystal was refreshing and "all of the things you want an artist to be... [plus] likeable."

Effie Passero, a 26-year-old assistant property manager from Modesto, CA, performed an original song, and Lionel called her "a secret weapon," before Luke pointed out she's "a missile." Katy had been looking for someone with such range and stretch, so Effie earned her golden ticket to Hollywood.

Johnny White, an 18-year-old server from Hickory, NC, sang "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" by JAmes Brown for his audition.

Lionel told Johnny that he needs to dial back a little bit when performing -- to have a little "foreplay" with the audience before "making love" to them -- so the judges asked Johnny to sing a second song in a more relaxed and subtle manner. Johnny therefore sang "All of Me" by John Legend.

Luke found Johnny inspiring "with a big old massive voice," and then Katy said, "I think you're Top 10 material," so he advanced to Hollywood.

Amelia Hammer Harris, a 26-year-old musician from Lexington KY, performed "Gimme Shelter" by The Rolling Stones for her audition.

The judges liked her "sultry voice," and Katy said she was surprised Amelia wasn't a major artist in the music industry already since she's beautiful and has a presence about her, along with unique style.

Katy told Amelia she's also "Top 10 material," and Luke noted she's one of "the most put-together artists" he's ever seen. With that being said, Amelia received three yeses and her golden ticket.

Six more artists were also sent to Hollywood through a unanimous judges' decision.

Ricky Manning, a 22-year-old day care employee from West Hollywood, CA, sang an original song, and Katy called him an "exceptional song writer." 

Caleb Lee Hutchinson, a 16-year-old musician from Dallas, GA, performed "If It Hadn't Been for Love" by The SteelDrivers.

"Your voice is well above your age" Lionel noted.

Katy complimented the texture of his voice and said he's unique and centered. Luke suggested the artist should be careful not to overdo his fast vibrato; however, the country star admitted he was being "super critical."

Shannon O'Hara, a 17-year-old nanny from Mooresville, NC, sang "When We Were Young" by Adele. Lionel insisted Shannon's voice, song selection and passion could make her a huge threat in the competition this season.

Katy said Shannon had an old soul and an "exceptional voice," as well as a strong mind. Luke wasn't expecting Shannon to be such a "songbird" with a great soulful voice.

Twin brothers Julian Sposato and Milo Sposato, who are both 17-year-old high school students from Malibu, CA, took solo moments in their joint performance of "Runaway Baby" by Bruno Mars. Katy called them "dope" and "fun," and the potential Instagram models were sent to Hollywood.

Les Green, a 27-year-old singer from Baltimore, MD, performed Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come." Luke called him a "Ferrari."

"You're raw, rugged and full-speed ahead," Luke said, before Lionel suggested Les should calm down his vocals a little bit.

Although Les could use some polishing, the judges agreed he was too talented to eliminate.

And Maddie Zahm, a 19-year-old special education teacher from Boise, ID, sang "New Rules" by Dua Lipa. The judges agreed she's an "incredible woman" with great potential but needs to "dig deep" and try to stop being so timid in front of an audience.

In addition, two artists received golden tickets to Hollywood through a split judges' decision.

Kristyn Harris, a 23-year-old cattle farmer from McKinney, TX, yodeled for the judges and was called a "one woman show." Katy said she had an interesting delivery that should definitely be preserved, but she didn't think she was ready for American Idol.

However, both Luke and Lionel wanted to see more from Kristyn in Hollywood, so she advanced to the next round.

And Johnny Brenns, an 18-year-old college student from St Augustine, FL, sang an original song and proved he had a sweet, sexy and smooth voice.

"I think it needs a lot of work, but I think something is there," Johnny was told.

With that being said, Katy and Luke advanced Johnny to Hollywood by saying "yes" despite Lionel opting to cut the hopeful.

American Idol auditions will continue on the next March 19 broadcast on ABC.



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