‘American Idol’: Contestant’s Louis Armstrong cover moves judges during first taped-from-home show

Patrick Ryan
USA TODAY

Published 11:36 AM EDT Apr 27, 2020

Did you really think Katy Perry would tone down her antics just because of quarantine? 

The quirky pop star and mom-to-be appeared on Sunday’s “American Idol” episode, the first to be taped entirely from home, dressed as a giant bottle of hand sanitizer. Perry wore the boxy, seemingly uncomfortable getup for the whole two-hour episode, as the judges virtually critiqued the Top 20 contestants still in the running on the singing competition’s 18th season.

“I just want to make sure that ‘American Idol’ is staying as safe as possible,” Perry told Ryan Seacrest at the start of the episode, adding that she is “doing fine” in self-isolation. “When I look back at this time, it’ll be a time I never forget. My first pregnancy in a pandemic, having cravings that I cannot necessarily fulfill if I want. But there are a lot of things I’m grateful for these days.” 

More: ‘American Idol’ must go on: How the singing competition will crown a winner, remotely

In order to continue the show amid stay-at-home orders, “Idol” producers took on the daunting task of shipping cameras, microphones and lighting equipment to all 20 contestants and asking them to film their performances live for the judges. Sunday’s episode was taped Friday and went off without a hitch, with hopefuls singing from their bedrooms, living rooms, porches and back yards. Most were joined remotely by an “Idol” backing band, while some chose to play guitar or keyboard as they sang.

Big-voiced covers of Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish and Demi Lovato received mixed reactions from judges, although Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie all heaped praise on Jovin Webb’s gravelly, soulful rendition of Joe Cocker’s “With a Little Help From My Friends” (itself a Beatles cover).

'American Idol': Contestant's Louis Armstrong cover moves judges during first taped-from-home show 1

But the standout of the night was Jonny West, whose gentle, gorgeous take on Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” closed out the episode.

“I heard 10 deviations of a music career right there,” Bryan said. “You can take your career wherever you want to take it. I heard Randy Newman in there, I heard movie soundtracks, I heard so many things. Just don’t stop your music journey no matter what happens, please.”

Perry added: “If the show continues to film from home for the rest of the (season), you’re at an advantage, because you can really play your subtleties and it’s so beautiful to hear these subtleties coming from your voice. Top two favorite performances today.”

“I picked the song before all this went down and it means so much more to me now as we’re going through all this,” West said as he thanked the judges. “It was the perfect way to be like, ‘This is what’s waiting for us once all this clears up,’ and it will. So I’m happy to be here and I’m blessed to be here.” 

“Idol” continues next Sunday on ABC (8 EDT/PDT), when the Top 10 will be revealed.

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