American Idol 2023 Top 10 GREATEST Auditions (VIDEO)

Iam Tongi - American Idol 2023
(ABC/Eric McCandless) IAM TONGI

American Idol Season 21 auditions wrapped up last Sunday (March 19, and now the show begins double episodes, Sunday and Monday for a few weeks. It all begins Sunday (April 2) with Hollywood week. Check out our Top 10 list of best auditions. These contestants delivered the most noteworthy auditions of the season.

Disappointingly, no original left a lasting mark on me like past auditions have from the ABC Idol era. Overall, there were only a few originals performed, so hopefully we get a few magical Hollywood week originals with the newly themed Hollywood round 1 which features alums helping the contestants improve in three categories, including songwriting.

It’s also worth noting that just because the judges thought an audition was platinum ticket quality, does not mean I agreed with their assessment. Therefore, I have included my top 10 auditions which takes vocals, artistry, and memorability into account.

10. Kya Monée’s “I’m Here”

Kya’s audition, which closed the Season 21 premiere, was an emotional rollercoaster as she payed tribute to the late Willie Spence (Season 19 runner up). Before he died in a fatal car crash, he helped Kya pick the song, and was supposed to attend the audition with her. While her vocal wasn’t the best, it was the most emotionally packed of the entire season, as she broke down into tears during the performance. But she persevered and was still able to belt. She channeled her pain and gave a performance that should be remembered for seasons on end; especially the final line where she sings, “I’m beautiful and I’m here” as this line had so much power behind it. The performance brought the judges to tears with Katy declaring, “that’s how you sing through tears.”

9. Hannah Nicolaisen’s “Make You Feel My Love”

Sadly, Hannah’s audition which was a breath of fresh air, may get lost in the shuffle. That’s because the former volleyball player’s ace of a performance was aired during the late-night post-Oscars show. Hannah has the type of voice that needs little to no backing as it is compelling and natural sounding. She might not have the biggest range, but every word and run had meaning. This audition was pure and effortless as nothing about it felt overdone or overly embellished. Lionel told Hannah that she “did everything right to tell that story.” There’s something about Hannah that feels like a classic American Idol competitor. Her style reminded me some of Shannon Gibbons from Season 18.

8. Elijah McCormick’s “Bless The Broken Road”

Initially, I wasn’t sure if Elijah’s performance was worthy of winning the America’s Platinum Ticket (a voting contest held during the American Music Awards) over Matt Wilson, but when his full audition came out, it did Elijah justice as his full skillset showed why he rightfully won the contest.

His tone has a rich crooning quality that is special. It has a bit of a John Legend feel to it. The song choice was fitting as Elijah nearly lost his life in a car crash. When he let loose on the bridge of the song with the line, “now I’m just rolling on,” his chill-worthy voice showed that he could be a contender this season. This performance felt complete with emotion, tone, well-executed runs, and dynamics. It was everything I look for in an audition. After Elijah’s audition, Luke had high praise, saying “the last person I saw approach singing like you was Willie Spence.”

7. Olivia Soli’s “Hello”

It takes some major guts to take on a judge’s song especially someone with a legacy like Lionel Richie, but Olivia Soli showed she wasn’t afraid. Her piano playing had some imperfections, but her vocal showcase made a lasting mark. She gave this audition everything she had with great control over her voice and a star quality. It felt as if we were watching a star be born. Her belt on “I Love You” was possibly the cleanest belt of all auditions this season. The dynamics surrounding this audition were incredible. Lionel was extremely pleased, saying, “I want to be the first in your long career to rush the artist,” as he gave Olivia a hug.

6. Marybeth Byrd’s “If It Hadn’t Been For Love”

There were other solid country auditions like Colin Stough, Warren Peay, and Trey Louis, but Marybeth represented the genre the best. The former The Voice contestant’s performance was a masterclass in how to audition. She brought loads of technique to a genre that Luke often says simple is best. But there was nothing simple about this audition. Her phrasing was crazy cool and seemed to have some jazz and blues influences, especially in her inflections when she sang parts of the song like, “ooh I.” Marybeth’s voice has tons of cross appeal. Non-country fans might find themselves voting for Marybeth which could help lead to post-show success. She sang and phrased her final line so creatively that I wondered how she even did what she did. This audition was mind-blowing. Luke Bryan said she got it right from note one, telling her, “I see a very bright future.”

5. Oliver Steele’s “In My Life” and “Change The World”

Oliver’s story was an emotional one, sharing that his dad, a professional guitarist, had a stroke that severely affected his left side. If it were up to Oliver, his dad would have accompanied his audition. Without his dad in the room, he started his audition with a Beatles classic. He infused it with some soul and blues, and his voice sounded great, but the performance didn’t showcase his full potential.

When Oliver’s dad joined him in the circle, and he sang one of his dad’s favorite songs, “Change The World,” the contestant emerged as a singer who could win the competition. It seemed that his full repertoire came out, including cool soulful growls, extremely well-executed runs, and some range. The latter half was so good it felt like watching an Oliver Steele concert. He surely did his father proud. The judges even sang along when prompted by his dad. This was a great moment to the end the auditions on. All three judges loved it, with Lionel telling his dad, “you can pass it all to that boy right there” when talking about Oliver’s talent and how special it was.

4. Iam Tongi’s “Monsters”

Iam’s audition was the most viral of the season for a reason. Is he the best vocalist this season? No, and honestly, he may not even be in the top 5 from a vocal standpoint, but authenticity is huge on this show and for being a recording artist, and there was something magical that Iam brought to the stage with his audition.

Iam told his story, which was about losing his father a few months prior to his audition. He transformed the song into what felt like an original. The line, “we’re just two grown men saying goodbye” was heartbreaking. The audition felt felt relatable in a sense that we all grieve when losing people close to us. That’s why it’s no wonder that so many people have related to this performance and song. Iam’s performance left the judges were left in tears. “You’re making these grown men cry,” said Katy. “You hit a nerve and that’s what great storytellers do”.

His audition was so influential that the original song by James Blunt shot up the iTunes charts. His audition has 10 million views on YouTube, 22.4 million views and 1.6 million likes on Instagram, and 25 million views on Facebook. It’ll be interesting to see if Iam’s viral audition is enough to carry him deep into the competition.

3. Wé Ani’s “Anyone”

There is no wonder why she almost won The Voice, and it’s truly not surprising that she would be even better a few years later. Maybe, it was a blessing that she lost, as now we get to hear her voice grace TV screens again. Maybe this time she can strike it big. Also, even though we’ve seen it before, it’s still shocking how rich and deep her singing voice is compared to her high-pitched talking voice.

Her take on Demi Lovato’s “Anyone” was the best rendition of the song I’ve heard and there’s been a lot of them, including past finalists Alanis Sophia and Ava Maybee’s renditions. There is something so natural and mesmerizing about the way Wé belts. It appears very healthy and not strained. She poured her heart and soul into this audition and delivered what was one of the best vocals of the season. Although striking it big is rare, hopefully, American Idol leads to Wé’s much deserved break out. Lionel gave her the highest praise, saying she belongs in the “ridiculous” category of an extremely talented season of Idol.

Demi shared and reacted to Wé’s audition via social media.

2. Kaeyra’s “Cold”

There is usually that one audition where it feels as if a star is born. For instance, last season’s contestant Kenedi Anderson and Casey Bishop from the season before immediately stood out. Neither are stars yet, but both had star quality in their auditions. Season 21’s Kaeyra belongs in the same category.

She took a Chris Stapleton song and constructed it into a totally new version that felt like a pop-soul ballad featuring jazz inflections. As the performance went on, I got chills all over as she showcased the rasp in her voice. Her vibrato is unique, and she performed a lot of runs, but every one felt well-placed. Her artistry stands out–if you told me this was a Chris Stapleton song, I would have no idea. She flat-out nailed this performance, and I look forward to her tackling something more upbeat as Katy challenged her to do in the future. She deserved a platinum ticket, even if she didn’t receive one. Luke was the only judge to give her a standing ovation, telling her, “I wasn’t expecting that. You don’t sound like anybody else.”

1. Tyson Venegas’s “New York State of Mind”

From a pure vocal standpoint, Tyson nailed his performance, and that’s why he ended up as number 1 of my leaderboard. He’s the only judges’ platinum ticket pick that I 100% agree with. The 17-year-old navigated this classic song choice with technical prowess. He had the judges wowed from the beginning.

This rendition was easy-breezy and a vocal showcase of perfection. I typically dislike when people say “he’s only 17,” but honestly, Tyson deserves that praise. His age is truly shocking. The singer’s voice sounds kind of like a young Bruno Mars. His big vocal range has me intrigued. Hopefully he tackles a female powerhouse ballad at some point in the competition.

The judges huddled up as he wrapped up his audition, so it was no surprise when they awarded him with 1 of the 3 coveted judges’ Platinum Tickets. Lionel brought his mom in, and told her, “He’s claiming to be 17 years old, but he’s performing like a 45-year-old.” I can’t wait to see who Tyson picks for his Hollywood round duet partner as the platinum ticket allows him to skip Round 1, and choose his own duet partner. Hopefully it is someone who can match him, as he might be the most talented singer of the season.

Sound your thoughts below. Who do you think gave the best audition? Who missed the list, but will have the greatest growth arc in Hollywood?

Keep this post spoiler free. If you want to discuss spoilers, check out the spoiler posts below:

American Idol 2023 Spoilers Showcase Round Contestant and SONG List
American Idol 2023 Spoilers: Top 26 Season 21 Contestant List
American Idol 2023 Top 55 Contestants Guide (Videos, Photos)

American Idol season 21 airs on ABC Sundays and Mondays at 8 pm ET/PT

About Blake Busch 272 Articles
I am a graduate of Drake University with a BSBA in marketing and minor in data analytics. My favorite shows to follow are American Idol and The Voice. I also love crime thrillers, Top Chef, and Masterchef. My hobbies include cooking, baking, playing basketball, and watching sports.