american idol came back for a new season on Sunday with a really amazing audition. Near the end of the two-hour premiere, TikTok star Claudia Conway stepped up to the plate to display her pipes.
Idol Judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie were a bit surprised by Claudia’s appearance, and only Katy knew who she was before she was introduced.
“Are you okay?” Katy asked, before Conway even said hello.
“No. But yes,” Claudia said with a laugh, before explaining how her parents are Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to former President Trump, and George Conway, an outspoken critic of Trump.
The 16-year-old has publicly criticized her mother in recent years and has cultivated a large following on TikTok, where she often fights with her mother over her political views.
“It’s a lot, but I just want to spread love, and I love a commitment, and I agree to disagree with my mom and dad,” Claudia explained to the judges.
Due to coronavirus protocols, only limited family members can accompany contestants this year, so some contestants can video chat with their other family members via huge television monitors in a secluded booth.
While Claudia’s father accompanied her to the audition, she received a virtual visit from her mother, who shared some words of encouragement: “This is your moment to shine. Remember honey, the winners are the people who are willing to lose.”
“With your mom being the figure that she is, does she still hug you?” Katy asks, evoking the public drama that has unfolded between them in recent months.
“Yes, she loves me and I love her. I just feel like our relationship is a bit dubious,” Claudia says. “For most of my life, my feelings were suppressed, and then I got on social media and thought, ‘Damn, now my voice is being heard!'”
Claudia began her audition with a rendition of Rihanna’s “Love on the Brain,” but seemed to lose her way in the middle. Katy didn’t wait long to stop her, calm her nerves, and ask her if she had another song she’d like to try.
Claudia decided to give Adele’s “When We Were Young” a shot, and the performance showed the judges a more confident side of the young singer’s acting style, though it didn’t surprise them.
“There is a lot of noise in your life and you have to calm the storm around you,” shares Katy. “I mean, before singing, you should hang up the phone, you should stop reading your comments, because you may never get over your mom and dad. It’s your choice.”
Finally, it was time to vote on whether or not to move on to the real competition. In the end, Luke Bryan, who said he liked his personality but felt he had limited range, voted no.
Meanwhile, Katy and Lionel felt that she had demonstrated her ability to be coached and wanted to give her the opportunity to explore her passion. They both voted yes, and with that Claudia got a ticket to Hollywood.
american idol airs Sundays at 8 pm ET / PT on ABC.