Though American Idol is the latest of a slew of television series set to suspend production due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, this season started with a deep pool of incredibly talented artists vying for a chance to take home the top title. Often regarded as one of the best reality competition shows of all time, American Idol fell stagnant for several years on FOX before ABC made a bid for the rights and revamped it.
Since sprucing up its judging panel with a trio of superstars in Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie (who have impeccable chemistry behind the judge’s table), American Idol has arguably regained its spot as top dog in the reality TV singing arena. Here are Season 3’s most popular contestants, according to YouTube views.
10 Jonny West (1.5 Million)
As the boyfriend of a well-known contestant from last season, Margie Mays, Jonny West came into his audition with big shoes to fill, and he did just that with his funky rap-infused original song. His slickness and artistry won over the judges, who hypothesized that West’s polished persona would likely take him far in the competition.
America warmed up to Jonny quickly, believing that he possesses the uniqueness in songwriting and style to become a major frontrunner in the season and big-time artist outside of the season, irrespective of where he places.
9 Francisco Martin (1.7 Million)
A nervous but endearing Francisco Martin surprised the judges at his San Francisco audition when – after it seemed that nerves might get the better of him – he broke out into a fantastic rendition of Maggie Roger’s “Alaska”. Oozing with charisma despite his shyness, Francisco proved he was one to watch with his smooth voice and sharpened songwriting ability.
All three judges agreed he could go far in the competition, with Luke Bryan scribbling out the word “winner” on his page. Audiences related to Francisco’s nervous energy and appreciated his realness, and he’s quickly risen to become a major fan favorite.
8 Julia Gargano (1.8 Million)
Citing last season’s breakout star Alejandro Aranda as the reason she chose to audition, Julia Gargano brought star-quality to Idol as a singer/songwriter with a seasoned, powerful voice that gave off some serious Pink vibes. Gargano further showcased her writing chops with her soulful original song “Growing Pains”, which impressed judge Katy Perry so much she rose from her chair to hug her.
In Perry’s mind, Gargano is a top-five competitor. America seems to be in agreeance, particularly appreciating her polished songwriting skills and sweet personality.
7 Cyniah Elise (2.2 Million)
Cyniah’s soulful, powerhouse vocal quality took the judges by surprise when the 17-year-old from Atlanta channeled a little piece of Whitney Houston while singing Calum Scott’s “You Are The Reason”. Auditioning for Idol after having had a family singing video go viral overnight, Cyniah lived up to her potential, with the judges seeing her as a phenomenal natural talent.
Fans love how effortless and rich Cyniah’s voice is for her young age and look forward to seeing her develop her artistry and presence throughout the next stages of the competition.
6 Jovin Webb (2.3 Million)
Hailing from Louisiana, Jovin Webb brought a passionate vocal to his Idol audition that immediately separated him from the pack. Having struggled to overcome the heart-wrenching death of his mother prior to the birth of his son, Webb channeled a wealth of emotions into his soulful performance of the Allman Brothers Band’s “Whipping Post”.
The judges were moved by Webb’s storytelling blues vocals and emotionally cathartic performance, and America similarly connected with his quintessentially Louisiana identity. Webb is poised to go far, so long as he sticks to his blues roots.
5 Dillon James (2.6 Million)
With a striking look and quiet spirit, Dillon James caught America’s attention with his rousing rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love”. Having struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, the singer from California had to overcome his demons to get to the Idol stage.
He credits music and his family for getting him through the dark times and he channeled that emotion during his audition, which captivated all three judges. Luke Bryan compared his vocal quality to Chris Isaac’s, and America empathized with James’ inspirational message.
4 Just Sam (2.9 Million)
Just Sam made a lasting impact on fans and the judges when the subway busker showed up to the New York auditions with a ton of humility and passion. An inspiring story of strength and resiliency, the Harlem-native proved she had what it takes singing a heart-shattering rendition of Andra Day’s “Rise Up”, where her husky voice shone brightly.
The judges were drawn in by her rich tonality and storytelling, and America loved her down-to-earth nature. Just Sam was previously the subject of the 2018 documentary titled Sam, Underground, and fans hope she can bottle up the same magic from her audition for the rest of the season.
3 Louis Knight (4.8 Million)
The young Philadelphia transplant originally from London, England immediately caught the judges’ attention for looking like a ‘long lost member of One Direction’. But Louis proved to have far more versatility and artistry when he sang his emotional original song “Change” about the loss of a childhood best friend to suicide.
The song hit home for audiences, and Luke Bryan declared Knight one of the breakout stars of the season thus far. Knight still has to prove his voice can keep up with some of the more mature powerhouses he’s competing against, but fans of his story have plenty of reason to root for him to go far.
2 Arthur Gunn (6.7 Million)
The charming crooner from Nepal easily has one of the most recognizable voices of the competition, a powerful mix of gravel and warmth reminiscent of past winner Phillip Phillips. Gunn’s artistry came to life in his audition when he put his own twist on Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen The Rain”, and fans immediately connected to his spirit and storytelling ability.
As one of the most emotionally resonant artists of the season, Gunn looks poised to make a deep run in the competition, and perhaps fulfill his own American Dream in the process.
1 Doug Kiker (9.1 Million)
Though he didn’t make it past Hollywood week of the competition, the rough-around-the-edges singer from Alabama went viral after his audition and stole America’s hearts with his raw rendition of Rascal Flatts’ “Bless The Broken Road”. Auditioning for his daughter with the hope of making her proud, America applauded Kiker’s authenticity and humility and was keen to root for the underdog.
Fans were devastated when Kiker – perhaps a little to green for the Idol stage – was sent home the first week in Hollywood. His time on the show may already be over, but his viral audition is a testament to the power of dreaming big.
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About The AuthorKatie is a published writer and creative with a background in television development, having worked on shows for ABC, FOX, CBC, and Freeform.
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