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‘American Idol’ recap: Tears, cheers, and top-10 talent

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Another week means another episode of American Idol.

With host Ryan Seacrest along for the ride, judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie were back at it again scouring the United States for the next big star. Here’s a look at this week’s top auditions. 

Kicking things off on Sunday was 17-year-old Tristen Gressett, who showed off his many talents, which included playing guitar and harmonica as he belted out “Piano Man” by Billy Joel. While his audition was entertaining, it was his second audition performance of “Colors,” by Black Pumas, where he stripped back some of the gimmicks, that would earn him a ticket to Hollywood.

Cadence Baker, 18, earned herself a standing ovation from the judges after singing a slowed-down and countrified version of Whitney Houston‘s hit “I’m Your Baby Tonight.” Not only did she make it to the next round, Luke even proclaimed “she may be the winner.”

Twenty-six-year-old gospel singer Dontrell Briggs sang his heart out with his cover of Tasha Cobbs’ “For Your Glory,” leaving the judges torn over his future. With Lionel giving a “yes” and Katy a “no,” Luke was left with Briggs’ fate in his hands. Briggs then sang for his life and gave Luke chills while singing Chris Stapleton‘s “Tennessee Whiskey,” winning a ticket to Hollywood.  

Katy couldn’t help but declare Dakota Hayden “top-10 material” after hearing his version of Luke Combs‘ “When It Rains It Pours.” The country singer earned himself a trip to the West Coast. 

Sadly, not everyone was lucky enough to continue pursuing their dreams of becoming the next American Idol. Inspired by season 19 runner-up Willie Spence, Taniya Boatwright gave it her all while singing Sam Cooke‘s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” but it wasn’t enough to get a golden ticket. However, Lionel did encourage her to come back and try again.  

Closing out the episode was 28-year-old Sam Finelli. Sam, who was diagnosed with autism, moved the judges to tears and earned himself a standing ovation after singing “Rainbow,” by Kacey Musgraves. The judges all praised him and shared words of inspiration, with Lionel declaring, “Your handicap is your gift.”

American Idol returns Sunday, March 20 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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