Who remembers watching American Idol when it was in its first season? The worldwide phenomenon all started on June 11th in 2002, when we watched hundreds of hopeful contestants battle it out for their one shining moment in the spotlight. Those that were tuning in at the time remember that Kelly Clarkson won it all (and she has since gone on to an incredibly successful solo career).
Her audition was incredible but everyone knows how talented she is now. Still, what about all the other incredible contestants whose names we might not know as readily? Without a doubt, American Idol has seen some of the United States’ best singing talent over its staggering 16-year run. Sometimes it pays to go back and dig up some of the classic moments from throughout the show.
To bring you back up to speed, here are 15 of the greatest auditions from the most recent season of American Idol. Our personal favorite here at Shareably is David Francisco – his inspiring story makes his performance just that much better!
1. Benjamin Glaze
For those who have kept up with the show, 19-year-old Benjamin Glaze gave a bit of a shaky audition to “Levels” by Nick Jonas. Still, his audition has lived on in infamy because judge Katy Perry decided to give him his first kiss live and on-air! The moment definitely raised some eyebrows and even stirred up some controversy when it first aired. If you never got around to watching it, take a look for yourself.
2. Alyssa Raghu
As a sophomore in high school (and only 15 years old), Alyssa gave her audition to “Almost Is Never Enough” by Ariana Grande in honor of her father, who she said was her best friend. The performance was incredible and blew the judges away, causing her to tear up as well! At the end of everything, she gets to share the beautiful moment with her dad—but you should watch it yourself to get the full impact.
3. Trevor Holmes
Once again, Katy Perry causes trouble from behind the judges’ table! When Trevor Holmes walked in the audition room ready to sing, all Katy could comment on was how hot he was. At the end of the performance, he even revealed that he had a crush on Katy as well… until Trevor’s girlfriend ran in to put an end to the sexual tension (and sent Katy running for the hills).
4. Catie Turner
Young Catie Turner came into her audition with a lot of energy and a little bit of a strange way about her. Shortly after, she told the judges that she wrote her own songs… and quickly set off into a rendition of one of her originals. The judges gave her all a yes. The heartfelt hugs at the end of the clip are more than worth the price of admission here.
5. Mara Justine
Mara Justine was actually born in 2002, the same year American Idol began! Though she was only 15 years old when she auditioned, her soulful rendition of “Love on the Brain” by Rihanna was enough to get all the judges on their feet. As with all the best auditions, everything ended in tears.
6. Michelle Sussett
The Venezuelan-born Michelle Sussett came in with plenty of attitude and sass (as well as with a little surprise on the side). She set into a song in Spanish with plenty of energy—but she kicked it all up when she started playing a dance beat and recruited the judges to dance with her! Katy Perry even ended up wiping out towards the end of it. The audition was truly fearless, to say the least.
7. Harper Grace
Everyone has the occasional off-day. That’s something that Harper Grace learned all too well as a little girl when she tried to sing the national anthem at a baseball game… to disastrous (and viral) results. Fortunately, she came back later to perform an original country song that wowed the judges.
Going by just a single name, Jurnee came into the American Idol audition room with plenty of energy and an inspiring story about living life as her true self. When she set into an inspiring version of “Rise Up” by Andre Day, the judges were in awe. Despite the difficulty of the song, Jurnee’s soulful delivery earned her a spot in Hollywood.
9. Noah Davis
Noah Davis was an 18-year-old boy from Arkansas who grew up on a farm… and had dreams of buying an alpaca if he won the American Idol prize money. When he finally sat down at the table and set into his version of “Stay” by Rihanna, nobody expected such a powerful voice to come out of such a small young man. This one is definitely worth checking out.
10. Marcio Donaldson
Marcio came in his audition with his baby son under his arm. He started by explaining his difficult journey from Compton, California to the American Idol audition room. Despite all his hardships, however, he managed to sing one of the most soulful renditions of “Jealous” by Labrinth that anyone has ever heard. Although it wasn’t technically perfect, he poured all his emotions into it—and it showed.
11. Gabby Barrett
Many of the best American Idol moments have deeper stories behind them. In Gabby Barrett’s performance, a lot of her confidence was grounded in the strong relationship with her father. After a little bit of back and forth with the judges trying to identify her real voice, she got the ok to proceed to Hollywood—and even managed to prank her dad in the process.
12. Zack D’Onofrio
I don’t know about anyone else, but the deeper crooners were always my favorite auditions on American Idol. A recent one of those that turned heads was a performance by Zack D’Onofrio. After first walking in with a pair of gift socks, he set into a perfect version of “The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra. He even got a dance with Katy Perry out of it!
13. David Francisco
David Francisco’s story was a tragic one. He moved to Nashville to pursue music but got hit by a car almost immediately upon moving there. Despite all the hardships, he gradually learned how to walk again with the help of his loyal fiancée. In her honor, he set into a rousing performance of “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder. The performance had Katy Perry in tears!
14. Julian and Milo Sposato
It’s not every day that we hear twins audition together. It’s even rarer that they bring their instruments and their dad into the audition as well! But that’s exactly what Julian and Milo Sposato did when they performed “Runaway Baby” by Bruno Mars. The performance had a lot of energy and got the whole room excited.
15. Maddie Zahn
Maddie Zahn was a special education teacher who had been diagnosed with PCOS late in high school. She explained to the judges that the weight gain that came with it was a low point in her life and that it took her a while to get her confidence back. Fortunately, she had it in spades when she performed “New Rules” by Dua Lipa for the judges—and she even brought along her best friend Marcus, a boy with Down’s Syndrome.
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Source: YouTube/American Idol