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Andrew is a staff writer at the “The Hudsucker”. He is a 29 year old lawyer living in Ottawa. Besides legal jargon, his brain capacity is taken up by reality show trivia, video game walk-throughs and room escape strategies. Andrew is also happily in a long-term, long-distance relationship. Follow him on Twitter as @sublymonal.

Top 5 Highlights from Week 2 of ‘American Idol’

After a strong showing during last week’s auditions, fans were hoping for more impressive talent to keep the return of American Idol on the right path.

This season, the show has been bouncing around between audition cities during each episode, which yields for some more interesting episodes. If one audition city is experiencing a talent drought, they can intersperse the good contestants with other, more fruitful cities.

This week, the harvest was bountiful with several more “Top 10” declarations from Katy Perry and Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie declaring people stars in the making, so let’s review the five most memorable moments from Week 2 of Idol’s return.

Original Songs

As fans saw on Sunday and Monday night’s shows, singing an original song can be a risk. If it’s great, it shows that you’re more than just a cover artist. So was the case with Jonny Brenns, 18, whose song “Blue Jeans” had the judges entranced despite his parents not knowing he was auditioning. Ex-Voice contestant Ricky Manning also moved the judges with his original “LA is Lonely.” He even made Katy cry before hearing an enthusiastic “yes” from all three judges. Mohawked property manager Effie Passaro got behind a piano to play the judges her original “Troubled Mind.” Her opera training came in handy as her powerful voice secured her a spot in Hollywood as well.

On night two, Brandon Elder, who’s reminiscent of a long-haired Phillip Phillips, broke the judges hearts by singing his original “Gone” about his late mother, who died of cancer. All three judges called Brendan a star before sending him straight through. Daniel Ethridge followed up his cover of Chris Stapleton’s “Fire Away” with an original that earned him the coveted “storyteller” label from Katy and a golden ticket.

That “It” Factor

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Lionel Richie coaches contestant Crystal Alicia [Credit: ABC]

Sometimes a person walks in the room and the judges just know they have “it,” whatever “it” is. It’s a feeling we got with contestants like Adam Lambert and Carrie Underwood, and on night one, the judges said they felt it with orange-haired Crystal Alicia, whose personality wowed them before her rendition of “Lay Me Down” by Sam Smith upped the ante. Despite only singing karaoke before her audition, she’s definitely one to watch. Shannon O’Hara also had the judges seeing stars after she delivered a soaring rendition of Adele’s “When We Were Young,” which had Katy declaring her “a little songbird.”

On night two, Kenedee Rittenhouse cited Carrie Underwood as her inspiration, having sung with her back in middle school. Her rendition of Carrie’s “I Told You So” wasn’t enough to convince the judges, so she followed it up with Katy’s “Firework” before getting the OK. Victoria McQueen, 15, made Idol history, having been born on the day the show premiered back in 2002. Her version of Stevie Wonder’s “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout A Thing” had the judges praising her pitch-perfection and helping fulfill her Idol destiny.

Giving Critiques

The judges also showed that they’re settling into their roles and thinking long-term by doling out advice before handing contestants their golden tickets. Cowboy-hat-wearing Kristyn Harris was told that her impressive yodeling wouldn’t be enough to win over America and that she would have to find a way to bring something special to her country-twanged voice. Johnny White, 18,was also told by Lionel to “dial it back” after his version of James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World” before booking his trip to Hollywood. Meanwhile, country singer Caleb Lee Hutchison was told to tone down his vibrato to avoid treading into unpleasant territory.

On night two, vocal coach Britney Holmes even felt the sting of rejection after her technically-perfect version of Whitney Houston’s “Run To You” left the judges feeling cold. It just goes to show that there’s more to Idol than just being able to sing well!

Experience is Key

As with last week, some of this week’s best auditions came from contestants who were pushing the top end of Idol‘s age limit. Rocker, Amelia Hammer Harris, 26,delivered a killer version of The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” than left the judges, wanting to hear more. Les Greene, 27, also impressed with his take on Sam Cooke’s classic “A Change is Gonna Come,” but the judges said he could use more polish before giving him his golden ticket.

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Marcio Donaldson gets emotional when the judges tell him he has what it takes [Credit: ABC]

On night two, 26-year-old Dominique Posey showed off his range on Donny Hathaway’s “A Song For You” to earn himself a ticket. Amalia Watty, 28, also gave Lionel chills with her take on Bob Dylan’s “To Make You Feel My Love” and left Lionel envious of her afro. Marcio Donaldson, 28, closed the show with a heartbreaking story about his adopted nephew-turned-son and a rip-roaring version of Labrinth’s “Jealous” that the judges just couldn’t deny.

Power in Numbers

This season, the Idol judges are also encouraging contestants to bring their support system, whether that’s a friend or family member, into the audition room with them. For twin brothers Julian and Milo Sposato, auditioning together with Bruno Mars’ “Runaway Baby” (and with their dad on guitar) yielded golden tickets for both of them. Guitarist Maddie Zahm also brought her friend Marcus, who has Down Syndrome, in the room with her for support. Maddie impressed the judges with her cover of Dua Lipa’s “New Rules” before bringing Marcus up to sing Katy’s “Firework” together.

On night two, Payton Coccia only intended to play guitar for her sister Taryn on Jessie J’s “Masterpiece,” but the judges loved the sisters’ starkly different voices so much that they sent both of them straight through to Hollywood. It’s surprises like that that make Idol worth watching!

What were your favorite moments of American Idol’s second week of auditions and which singers impressed you the most? Let us know in the comments below!

Header image: ABC
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