American Idol has platinum tickets for the best wannabes, Huntergirl gets 1st

  A great escape from the omnipresent news is the return of American Idol, the star-making singing competition airing Sunday nights on ABC.

Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan (photo courtesy ABC)

 The super entertaining show that took off into the stratosphere 20 seasons ago (launched on Fox) spawned scores of TV talent contests. Now American Idol is back for its fifth season in its home on ABC with Emmy-winning producer and host Ryan Seacrest, and superstar judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie.

 The Idol team of Seacrest, Bryan, Perry, and Richie, along with Executive Producer Megan Michaels Wolflick, spoke to the Television Critics Association (TCA). During the virtual interview session, they revealed what it takes to discover America’s next singing sensation. 

 This season, in addition to gold tickets that advance the contestants, the judges are handing out platinum tickets in Austin, Los Angeles, and Nashville. Katy Perry explained, “We identify the best talent in each place, and basically this (platinum) ticket gives them the ability to go to Hollywood Week, which we’ve already filmed. It was so rigorous, survival of the fittest. They get to basically observe from the box seats at the theater. One day, they get to rest their voice, strategize, check out the competition and select who they want to duet with. So these three ticket holders get a tiny advantage, just because they’re the cream of the crop.”

 What is the difference between the singers who get platinum tickets and those who get gold? Lionel Richie said, “For me, it is just the fact that they’re just naturals. Some people just walk out and they are stars. They have all the boxes ticked. You know, stage presence, delivery, their sound, what’s their style, they have it all there. So, when they open their mouths, you know exactly who they are— the artist. It just rings that bell. And when that happens, you give them the platinum ticket as fast as you can.”

 Perry noted the missteps for the American Idol wannabes is when “some of them say, ‘I’m going to pick an Ariana Grande song,’ and then they sound nothing like Ariana Grande.”

 Luke Bryan said, “Song selection is the key. It tells us who they are as an artist. It tells us how sharp they are. It tells us how knowledgeable they are about where they want to take their career. When they’re rocking and rolling and they’re making great song choices. It really showcases who they want to be as artists.”

 American Idol, premiered its 20th season on February 27, and Bryan made Huntergirl the first American Idol contestant ever to receive a platinum ticket. Hunter made a big impression with the judges when she sang the Rascal Flats’ song “Riot.” They were also impressed that HunterGirl (aka Hunter Wolkonowski) is a music therapist who works with veterans.

Huntergirl is the first ‘American Idol’ contestant ever to receive a platinum ticket (photo courtesy ABC).

Tune in American Idol, Sundays at 8 pm on ABC. Watch episodes on demand and on Hulu following their premieres.

Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.