The American Idol 2018 auditions with new judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie weighing in on the hopefuls. One particular singer of interest was 18-year-old Georgia boy Caleb Lee Hutchinson, who wowed the panel with what might be the successor to 2011’s champ Scotty McCreery.
“My dad was always listening to Waylon, and Merle Haggard, and all that, so those were my men growing up,” Hutchinson informed the panel before performing. Perry piped up with, “Who are your heroes today in music?” To which Hutchinson answered, “He’s pretty good, you know,” with a gesture toward Bryan. The teen then gave an impression of Bryan, imitating a radio callout for Atlanta station 94.9 The Bull. “That’s pretty good,” mused Bryan, and repeated it back.
“That’s pretty close,” replied Hutchinson. “I think I might do it a little better. I think I might sound more like the guy!”
From there, he launched into his song, which didn’t sound anything like “the guy” at all. Instead of going for an upbeat party vibe, Hutchinson chose the bleak-flavored Chris Stapleton-penned composition “If It Hadn’t Been For Love,” handling the tune with a deep-voiced, steady confidence and strumming an acoustic guitar for accompaniment. It wasn’t a far stretch to compare him to another famous teenage contestant—namely, McCreery, who performed a few deep-toned Josh Turner numbers on the competition some seven years ago.
This didn’t go unnoticed by the judges. “Your voice is well above your age,” raved Richie, while Perry noted his unique vibrato technique. Bryan noted he had a “big, big voice,” but cautioned against overusing the vibrato.
All in all it was an easy unanimous “yes” vote, which resulted in Hutchinson ditching the vibrato for a victorious whoop. American Idol airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8PM ET/PT, and we’ll be keeping an eye on how Luke does…as well as standout performances.