'American Idol': Season 20 premiere recap

Watch 'American Idol' Sundays on ABC and next day on Hulu

ByBob Monek OTRC logo
Monday, February 28, 2022
'American Idol' Season 20 kicks off on ABC
The landmark platinum season of American Idol opened on Sunday night featuring auditions from Austin, Los Angeles, and Nashville.

NEW YORK -- The landmark platinum season of American Idol opened on Sunday night featuring auditions from Austin, Los Angeles, and Nashville.

Judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan are back for Season 20 along with host Ryan Seacrest.

The contestants are competing for a golden ticket to Hollywood and in a new twist, one contestant from each city will be awarded a new Platinum Ticket. The new ticket goes to the best overall performance in each city, allowing the singer to sit out the first round of Hollywood Week.


The season's first contestant was Noah Thompson from Louisa Kentucky. The 19-year-old construction worker had no plans to audition but his best friend Arthur signed him up because "he's got so much talent" and he would not have signed himself up.

Luke Bryan asked him to be a little more deliberate in his delivery, but he gave a solid performance.

"You got a real-life storytelling badass voice," Lionel Richie said.

Normandy from Baltimore has a squeaky high speaking voice but a singing voice like Adele. The difference is so stark, Katy Perry ran out of the room as she starts to sing Proud Mary. No video released on Normandy, a 29-year-old gamer who refers to her fans as "kitten nuggets."

Nicolina Bozzo, 18, a university student from Toronto delivered a powerful performance of "She Used To Be Mine" that had the judges on their feet.

Tyler Allen shared one of the most heartbreaking stories to open his audition. An 18-wheeler struck and killed his sister and nephew, Noah, who was only 1. Tyler found solace in music. For his audition, he sang the song that he used to sing to Noah.

The performance had Katy sobbing and brought all 3 judges to their feet.

"You are a star," Richie said.

Maddie Belle Gladwell has a firecracker personality, but the judges said her voice needs some work.

"Your voice has to grow," Luke Bryan said.

Camryn Champion from Lumberton, New Jersey and Danielle Finn from Los Angeles also looked like they might come up short, but....

Grace Franklin, a granddaughter of legend Aretha Franklin, performed 'Killing Me Softly' with her eyes closed. Luke called the performance "sleepy and subdued."

Katy Perry asked if the 15-year-old had any other songs. She tried again with her grandma's favorite 'Ain't No Way.' While her rendition was better than her opening song and won over Katy Perry, Luke and Lionel agreed she needed more work.

"Come back when you are ready," Lionel said. "I don't want this to be a crash and burn."

HunterGirl is a 23-year-old country singer-songwriter from Winchester, Tennessee who works as a music therapist with veterans. She blew away the judges with her performance.

"I wrote top 10 on my sheet," Luke Bryan said.

New Jersey's Cole Hallman didn't pick up a guitar until he was a senior in high school.

Cole has already become a fan favorite for his videos with his sister, Katie, who has special needs. She came with him to the audition in Nashville.

He admitted he was nervous coming into the audition.

Delaney Renee Wilson is a babysitter from Massachusetts who went viral thanks to a TikTok share by her boss, Nicki Maher.

She sang 'Opportunity' by Sia.

After her performance, Luke Bryan summed it up nicely: "From TikTok to Tinseltown!"

An original song by Taylor Jalen Fagins convinced producers to contact him while at school in Harlem. Fagins performed the song for his audition.

As for the first Platinum Ticket.... that went to HunterGirl, who found out while performing at Luke Bryan's bar in Nashville.

Tune into American Idol on Sundays at 8 p.m. ET/PT | 7 p.m. CT on your local ABC station and the next day on Hulu.

"American Idol" is returning for its landmark 20th season on Sunday, Feb. 27. Watch the newly released trailer here.