The fourth night of auditions brought American Idol judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. to Denver and Little Rock, where more singers of all styles and levels of experience vied for golden tickets.
First up in Denver were friends Amber Lynn and James VIII, who decided to go in for their audition together. Lynn auditioned first, singing "Unaware" by Allen Stone, with James playing the guitar. Connick praised Lynn's singing but was critical of James' playing, accusing him of rushing. "Amber Lynn can sing," Lopez interjected. For his audition, James sang "Sun Comes Up" by John Legend. The judges liked his different voice. Lynn and James will be going to Hollywood together.
Professional auctioneer Emily Wears auditioned next, and even though she showed off some of her speed-talking abilities, she slowed things down in the audition, singing "Bring On The Rain" by Jo Dee Messina. She had some pitch issues, and Connick said the overall vocal wasn't strong enough to get a yes from him. The other judges also passed, and Wears did not advance.
"American Idol" contestants: Where are they now?
Over in Little Rock, professional musician CJ Johnson sang "You Make My Dreams Come True" while playing guitar for his audition. Urban recognized the confidence Johnson has as someone who gigs regularly. All three judges said yes to Johnson.
Ethan Kuntz, a 15-year-old who grew up breeding and training hunting dogs, also came into his audition with confidence. He sang "Stormy Monday" and had a very bluesy voice. Lopez said he was such a natural. "I have no doubt in my mind that you're supposed to do this," Connick said, telling Kuntz that no matter what, he should pursue music. But Connick expressed doubts that Kuntz is ready for Idol. It was a no for him, but Lopez said yes, leaving it to Urban to decide Kuntz's fate. After a dramatic commercial break, Urban made the call: Kuntz is going to Hollywood.
Next, horse enthusiast Mary Williams gave a strong country audition. Lopez praised both the vocals and the emotions of the audition, but Urban said he didn't really feel the emotions in her singing. Connick agreed that it seemed more clinical than natural, but he said yes with Lopez, and Williams got her golden ticket.
After an oxygen break for the judges, the Denver auditions resumed with Xavier Soller, the in-game host for the Denver Nuggets, who brought a standing basketball hoop and ball in for his audition and let the judges take their best shots (Lopez was the only one to score). He sang "Friends In Low Places" by Garth Brooks, and while his personality was charming, his voice wasn't impressive enough for Idol.
Singing "Happy" by Pharrell, 18-year-old Terrian picked things back up again with an effortlessly strong audition. "You have a mellow style," Lopez said. The judges unanimously sent Terrian to Hollywood.
Leann "Blue" McIsaac, who described herself as a singing nomad, gave a very different audition. She asked each of the judges to tell her something that's important to them so that she could improvise a song based on their responses. Urban gave "family," Lopez gave "love" and Connick gave "music." While it was a unique audition, the judges all agreed that it wasn't what Idol was looking for.
Next, high schooler Thomas Stringfellow sang "Give Me Love" by Ed Sheeran. Urban praised Stringfellow for doing it his own way instead of just trying to copy Sheeran. All three judges quickly said yes to the young singer.
Tywan "Tank" Jackson, a dance teacher, kicked off his audition with a quick dance routine to Lopez's "Get Right" before then transitioning into singing "Superstar" by Luther Vandross. He probably shouldn't have danced first, because it led to some breath control issues. But his voice was undeniably beautiful, and the judges were forgiving of the breath problems, agreeing that he was a natural entertainer. Tank is rolling into Hollywood.
John Wayne Schulz, who previously auditioned for season 10 of Idol but didn't make it past Hollywood Week, returned for a second chance at the competition. He sang "The Dance" by Garth Brooks, and he easily secured his second shot at Idol, with all of the judges loving his beautiful voice and emotional performance.
Singing "Chain Of Fools" by Aretha Franklin, Leah Harbert had a strange voice...and not in a good way. Connick suggested that she work with a vocal coach. She didn't make it to Hollywood.
Jordyn Simone, a 15-year-old from Los Angeles, auditioned next, singing "Who's Lovin You" by The Jackson 5. Her runs were stunning, and the judges had trouble believing she's so young. Lopez was speechless, and Connick said Simone really covered all the bases in her performance. She flew through to Hollywood, with Urban even asking if there's a higher answer he could give than yes.
Kassy Levels and Rhea Raj also advanced to Hollywood. Their auditions were followed by Jake Dillon's. Dillon sang Kenny Loggins, and the judges liked his voice but were unsure if he really has what it takes to make it in the competition. Connick said no, and Lopez said yes. It was once again on Urban to make the call. He said yes, and Dillon gets another chance to win over Connick in Hollywood.
Easy-going Ashley Lilinoe sauntered in her audition and sang "Black Velvet" while playing the guitar. "You made some nice choices with the melodies," Lopez said, but she wanted a little more from the performance. Lopez said no, but Connick and Urban both said yes, and Lilinoe advanced.
Andrew Nazarbekian, who flew from Moscow to Denver to audition, sang "Make You Feel My Love" by Adele. He had impressive vocal control, which is always essential to pull off an Adele song. "You sang beautifully," Connick said. Nazarbekian will be going to Hollywood.
For the last audition of the night, Elvie Shane sang "House Of The Rising Sun" while playing the guitar. He had a lot of soul and grit to his voice, and the judges loved it. Lopez said his voice cut through the whole room with its power. "I love that you love to do this," Urban said. They all said yes to Shane, and the second week of auditions came to a close.
The audition round is far from over, with more golden tickets to come in next week's episodes. Who are you already excited to see in Hollywood?
This article originally appeared in THR.com.