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Katy Perry revealed her clear favorite to win American Idol on Sunday as she gushed about HunterGirl following her performance on the ABC singing competition show.
‘You just have a heart of gold and a voice of gold,’ Katy, 37, said. ‘I just want to see you win. I think everyone in America wants to see you win because you are a legit great person with a great talent and you are discovering all the bigness of that talent right now.’
‘I’d be so happy if you won this competition,’ Katy said.
Clear favorite: Katy Perry revealed her clear favorite to win American Idol on Sunday as she gushed about HunterGirl following her performance on the ABC singing competition show
‘I love you, Katy,’ said the Platinum ticket winner from Winchester, Tennessee.
HunterGirl, 23, wowed the judges with her authenticity when she took the stage wearing jean cutoffs, a white fringe jacket, and white cowboy boots.
The singer, real name Hunter Wolkonowski, played guitar while performing Baby Girl by Sugarland.
‘That was from top to bottom your best moment that we have seen from you on American Idol ,’ judge Luke Bryan, 45, said. ‘You are on your way.’
Authentic contestant: HunterGirl, 23, wowed the judges with her authenticity when she took the stage wearing jean cutoffs, a white fringe jacket, and white cowboy boots
Platinum ticket: The judges earlier this season awarded HunterGirl with a Platinum ticket during auditions that allowed her to skip a round during Hollywood Week
Standing ovation: Lionel Richie, Katy and Luke Bryan gave HunterGirl a standing ovation
‘I love that you came looking the part and sounding the part, and what’s the line ”’looks like money”,’ judge Lionel Richie, 72, said. ‘You look like money, you sound like money and actually I am going to tell you something right now you look like an old pro on that stage.’
Show host Ryan Seacrest, 47, congratulated her for the original song she performed last week tracking on the charts.
‘I almost had a nervous breakdown when I saw it,’ HunterGirl said. ‘I cried in my hotel room.’
Mutual admiration: ‘I love you, Katy,’ said the Platinum ticket winner from Winchester, Tennessee
HunterGirl was one of 11 contestants to remain in the competition following viewer voting that began at the start of the episode.
Three contestants, Allegra Miles, Ava Maybee and Dan Marshall, were voted off during the two-hour episode.
Platinum ticket winner Jay Copeland, 23, a medical receptionist from Salisbury, Maryland, was the first contestant to meet with former American Idol contestant singer Gabby Barrett, 22, who was serving as a mentor for this week’s breakout hits song choice challenge.
First up: Platinum ticket winner Jay Copeland, 23, a medical receptionist from Salisbury, Maryland, was the first contestant to perform during the two-hour episode
Jay revealed he was going to sing Just The Way You Are by Bruno Mars and Gabby helped him change a few notes to improve his performance.
‘That was amazing,’ Lionel said. ‘For the first time you are actually showing up on the stage singing songs that you should be singing. This is who you are.’
‘I just felt like you really landed in a cool spot with this performance today,’ Katy said.
Guest mentor: Gabby Barrett returned to mentor the contestants on the ABC show
‘It was great vocally,’ Luke said. ‘Great performance. You always sing great.’
Christian Guardino, 21, a kitchen worker from Patchogue, New York, told Gabby he would be performing Take Me To Church by Hozier. Gabby gave him advice on focusing on the lyrics and the melody when he was beginning the song.
‘Man your voice is just always so solid,’ Luke said after his performance. ‘Great job on a tough song.’
Church song: Christian Guardino, 21, a kitchen worker from Patchogue, New York, told Gabby he would be performing Take Me To Church by Hozier
‘You were on fire for that,’ Lionel said. ‘ When you did explode, it was amazing.’
‘It was definitely spirited,’ Katy said. ‘I think you did really good. I think you pick really cool songs and this was an amazing one for you,’
When contestant Dan Marshall, 24, a land surveyor, from Chesapeake, Virginia, sat with Gabby he admitted to being nervous to meet with her.
Admittedly nervous: When contestant Dan Marshall, 24, a land surveyor, from Chesapeake, Virginia, sat with Gabby he admitted to being nervous to meet with her
‘Because you are famous,’ Dan explained.
Gabby asked him what song he was going to sing for the next round of the competition. Dan said he was going to be singing She’s Got It All by Kenny Chesney. Gabby helped him try to enhance his connection with the audience.
Dan then took the stage and performed for the judges. The audience applauded when he was finished.
‘That’s how you do it,’ Lionel Richie said. ‘You are sounding like a star. You are actually stepping into the boots and I’m loving that.’
Music legend: ‘That’s how you do it,’ Lionel Richie said. ‘You are sounding like a star. You are actually stepping into the boots and I’m loving that’
Lea Marlene, 20, from Normal, Illinois, went next. She told Gabby she was torn between two songs, one more moody and another more vocal. Gabby advised her to sing Happy Together by The Turtles. When Lea took the stage she chose to sing Gabby’s pick for the audience.
‘In my opinion, the show has finally started,’ Katy said when she finished. ‘I saw the palm trees in the background and thought, are we at Coachella? You are finally that cool, Lea.’
Luke said he had watched her grow from auditions and found it inspiring.
Upbeat song: Lea Marlene, 20, from Normal, Illinois, went next and sang Happy Togethter
‘What a masterful moment just then from top to bottom,’ Luke said.
Fritz Hager, 22, from Tyler, Texas, met with Gabby and shared that he was going to sing Let It Go by James Bay.
‘Fritz you are an artist,’ Luke said after he performed playing guitar.. ‘That whole performance felt like I was at your show.’
Texas singer: Fritz Hager, 22, from Tyler, Texas, met with Gabby and shared that he was going to sing Let It Go by James Bay
‘I’m so proud of you for how far you have come,’ Katy said.
Tristen Gressett, 17, a high school student from Pell City, Alabama, said he got excited when he learned that Gabby was this week’s mentor. Tristen said to the camera that for his break out song he choose Whatya Want From Me by Adam Lambert. He joked with Gabby about Adam seeing him sing.
Tristen took the stage in a sequined fringed jacket and belted out the song for the judges. When he finished, Lionel said he liked that he added acting to his performance.
Young singer: Tristen Gressett, 17, a high school student from Pell City, Alabama, said he got excited when he learned that Gabby was this week’s mentor
‘What you have now on stage is stage presence,’ Lionel said. ‘It was fabulous. I love that performance.’
‘You always bring the drama but especially tonight,’ Katy said. ‘You keep evolving. You have the coolest, weirdest, awesomest vibe. I’m so into it.’
‘You came to play today,’ Luke said. ‘Great job.’
High praise: ‘You came to play today,’ Luke said. ‘Great job’
Ryan hen played for Tristen a taped video message from Adam Lambert who learned he was singing his song.
‘I know you are singing Whatya Want From Me, ‘ Adam, 40, said. ‘I want you to break a leg, sing from the heart and know that you are a star. Enjoy yourself.’
Tristen almost started crying when he saw the video message.
Lady K , 25, a musician from Tuskegee, Alabama, sang I Believe by Fantasia Barrino.
Killed it: Lady K , 25, a musician from Tuskegee, Alabama, sang I Believe by Fantasia Barrino
‘This is a big performance for me,’ Lady K said. ‘This is going to be me walking in the shoes of my idol.’
Gabby encouraged her to be confident on the stage and to let it show in her body language. Lady K, wearing a brown sequined strapless dress, wowed the judges with her rendition of the song.
‘The glow up is so real,’ Katy said. ‘That was a beautiful song. Way to pay tribute.’
Loved it: ‘The glow up is so real,’ Katy told Lady K. ‘That was a beautiful song. Way to pay tribute’
‘I told you from the beginning you were born enough,’ Lionel said. ‘From homeless, to center stage to going to the next level, that was the best performance I’ve ever seen you do in your life.’
Allegra Miles, 19, from West Palm Beach, Florida, performed Ocean Eyes by Billie Eilish. Gabby tried to find a moment in the song for her to stand out and shine and later Allegra played the piano as she sang the emotional song.
‘That is why we saved you,’ Luke said. ‘Beautiful performance. Loved when you got up from the piano. Loved when you took your hands off the piano and just got free.’
Hit song: Allegra Miles, 19, from West Palm Beach, Florida, performed Ocean Eyes by Billie Eilish
The host: Ryan Seacrest chatted with the judges during the episode
‘It was a wonderful performance,’ Lionel said.
Ryan then came out on stage barefoot in his suit and revealed that Allegra performed barefoot. She told him she had wanted to go barefoot the entire competition.
‘I feel closer to the ground,’ Ryan said. ‘I could stay like this. I have a bruise, don’t look.’
Bare feet: Ryan then came out on stage barefoot in his suit and revealed that Allegra performed barefoot
Ava Maybee, 21, a college student from Los Angeles, told Gabby that she was going to perform Sign Of The Times by Harry Style.
‘I’m a massive Harry Styles fan,’ Ava said. ‘He wore a glitter rainbow suit to Coachella. I would do that.’
‘What you established right away is that there is no maybe about Ava,’ Lionel said after her performance. ‘The second half was on fire.’
Popular song: Ava Maybee, 21, a college student from Los Angeles, told Gabby that she was going to ‘perform Sign Of The Times by Harry Style
‘No joke this morning, I was swimming in a pool, and my friend goes, you know that girl Ava?’ Katy said. ‘People are texting that I should vote for her. I’m like, yeah, you’ve got to vote for her. People are talking about you.’
Ryan said he wanted to know who was in Katy’s pool but she didn’t say.
Mike Parker, 27, a carpenter from Warrenton, Virginia, wore his cowboy boots and his hat to meet with Gabby. He told her he was going to sing Hurricane by Luke Combs.
Country singer: Mike Parker, 27, a carpenter from Warrenton, Virginia, performed Hurricane by Luke Combs
All the judges gave him a standing ovation when he finished.
‘What that performance showed me is that you are a fighter,’ Luke said. ‘Way to show up and show America you are here to play.’
‘You killed it, ‘ Lionel said. ‘That storytelling voice you have, more of it.’
Emyrson Flora, a 16-year-old high school student from Cleveland, picked ‘drivers license’ by Olivia Rodrigo as her song. Gabby encouraged her not to over think while she was singing and to improve her stage presence.
Talented teenager: Emyrson Flora, a 16-year-old high school student from Cleveland, picked ‘drivers license’ by Olivia Rodrigo as her song
‘Great song choice,’ Luke said. ‘It’s hard for me to wrap my head around that you are only 16. Nothing about you, your stage pretense and how you sing, it’s just so timeless and classic.’
‘You killed it,’ Lionel said.
Noah Thompson, 20, a construction worker from Louisa, Kentucky, then told Gabby it had been difficult being away from his young son. Gabby said she understood because she has a 15-month-old little girl. Noah said he picked Nobody to Blame by Chris Stapleton as his song. After hearing him practice, Gabby encouraged him to pick another song that he had a closer connection with and he took her advice.
Kentucky swinger: Noah Thompson, 20, a construction worker from Louisa, Kentucky, switched songs
Noah switched his song and performed Stand By Me by Ben E. King. When he finished all the judges applauded.
‘Gabby gave you a gift by changing that song,’ Lionel said. ‘Because you actually felt that song…your voice fit that song.’
Lionel encouraged him in the future to pick songs that he felt.
Strong switch: Noah switched his song and performed Stand By Me by Ben E. King
‘I’ve spent a little time in Kentucky these past few weeks and I’ve got to tell you that you are a big star there,’ Katy said. ‘My housekeeper Michelle is voting for you.
Nicolina, 18, a university student from Toronto, Ontario, was the final performer. She chose Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley as her song.
‘That was so angelic,’ Katy said after her performance. ‘It was almost like an angel singing.’
Last one: Nicolina, 18, a university student from Toronto, Ontario, was the final performer
‘You’re so in control of your voice and I still don’t even know what I’m doing,’ said Luke. ‘I just roll the dice every night on stage. You step up there, and you truly look that you have been in this role for 30, 40 years and it’s truly just a God-given talent.’
‘You are gifted beyond your years,’ Lionel said. ‘Really enjoy where you are at this point in your life because the sky’s the limit and you can go a long, long way.’
American Idol will return Monday on ABC with another round of live performances as the judges pick the songs for the top 11 to perform.
Moving forward: Emyrson, Nicolina and Noah were among the 11 contestants who advanced