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Another evening of auditions is in the books. American Idol Season 21 Episode 3A, which aired after the 2023 Oscars last night, showcased a handful of hopeful singers who performed in front of judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan. As per usual, shenanigans ensued when the judges tried their luck with VR headsets. The episode also ended on an emotional note as Nolan Neal’s daughter auditioned to honor the late musician. Here’s what you missed.

[Spoiler alert: The following story contains spoilers for American Idol Season 21 Episode 3A.]

Rach Karma auditions for American Idol is last night, March 12's episode
Rach Karma on ‘American Idol’ last night | Eric McCandless/ABC

The ‘American Idol’ judges called out a girl who ‘Kanye’d’ a contestant

Before her audition, 21-year-old Amara Valerio of Yonkers, New York, showed the judges a video from the time she got “Kanye’d.” As a junior in high school, she had been tapped to perform the national anthem for the senior class graduation. However, one of the graduates interrupted her performance to sing the national anthem herself.

As Amara sang a vengeful rendition of “Bust Your Windows” by Jazmine Sullivan, Luke, Lionel, and Katy tried to guess the name of the girl who took the mic from her at graduation. Katy successfully guessed “Sara.” After Amara’s performance, Katy said Sara was “done” messing with Amara, and the judges sent her to Hollywood.

Hannah Nicolaisen wowed the judges after just 1 month of playing music

Hannah Nicolaisen, a 23-year-old recruiter and athlete from Houston, Texas, only started playing music a month ago after years of focusing on volleyball. However, she had the voice of a pro singer as she auditioned with Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love.” The judges were in awe as Hannah showed off vocal control and an angelic tone.

After the audition, Katy compared Hannah’s untapped potential to a “prestige vintage car” that had been hidden away in a garage. “You just need to start the engine, girl,” she said.

Lionel said Hannah did “everything right,” while Luke said Hannah was “born to sing.” All three judges voted yes to send Hannah to Hollywood.

Reette Thorns pushed through nerves to audition for ‘Idol’

Last night’s American Idol continued with Reette Thorns, 20, a college student from Madison, Wisconsin. As a young girl, Reette dreamed of auditioning for Idol. She shared that her mother’s struggle with addiction gave Reette an “unstable” life for many years. Now, Reette wants to show her mom that she can believe in something.

Reette auditioned with “I Believe” by Idol winner Fantasia. Her vocal talent was evident, although Reette had a few flat moments. After her performance, Lionel gave her a big hug and attributed the song’s weaker moments to nerves. He said the first note was “spot on.” Katy and Luke agreed that Reette needed some “TLC,” so the judges sent her to Hollywood.

Cay Aliese honored her late dad, Nolan Neal, with her ‘American Idol’ audition

Cay Aliese, 24, of Dandridge, Tennessee, auditioned for American Idol last night in honor of her father, Nolan Neal. Fans of The Voice and America’s Got Talent might remember Nolan, as he competed on both shows. Unfortunately, Nolan died last year of a drug overdose, as Cay explained to the judges. She grew up connecting with her father over music, and watching him pursue it professionally made her not want to do it herself. However, since his death, she has felt more passionate about music than ever.

Cay auditioned with an original song called “City of Nashville,” written for Nolan. Her beautiful piano rendition brought smiles to the judges’ faces. However, Katy said she didn’t “feel emotionally connected” to the song. Lionel agreed that Cay had a great voice, but she needed to bring more emotion. Still, all three judges decided to give Cay a chance to “soar” in Hollywood.

Other ‘American Idol’ auditions last night

Dany Epp, 23, of Suffern, New York, brought her superfan mom to her American Idol audition last night. Katy decided to add Dany’s mom as a fourth judge for Dany’s performance. The young artist auditioned with “The One That Got Away.” Katy listened carefully as Dany showed off her gentle and emotional voice. At one point, Katy even joined in to harmonize with Dany. Lionel and Dany’s mom encouraged her to “connect more” with her eyes. All four judges sent her to Hollywood.

Tripp Taylor, 18, of Florence, South Carolina, has been singing since he was young. He looks up to Lionel and his “old soul” genre. Tripp auditioned with “I Believe to My Soul” by Ray Charles, showing off his deep, raspy vocals as he played piano. The judges were immediately impressed, and Katy wondered if Tripp was secretly Lionel’s son. Luke called Tripp “incredible,” and Katy said he had the “it factor.” Tripp is heading to Hollywood.

Colt Glover, 21, of Magnolia, Texas, was encouraged by a friend in college to pursue music seriously. He auditioned with “Rock Salt and Nails” by Flatt & Scruggs. Colt’s country twang will surely make him a favorite on Idol this season. The judges heard some nerves in Colt’s voice, but they loved his rasp. Katy even called Colt the “best country singer” they have seen so far and predicted that he would go on to the Top 10. All three judges voted yes.

New episodes of American Idol air on Sundays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Next-day streaming is also available on Hulu.

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