Monday marked the second night of auditions for the 2018 season of American Idol with the show returning to ABC after a two-year absence from ending its 15 seasons run at Fox in 2016. Host Ryan Seacrest was back for the Sunday night premiere to introduce us to a fresh new crop of Idol hopefuls in New York, Los Angeles, and Nashville. The debut episode delivered no shortage of both hilarious, adorable, and eyebrow-raising moments as new judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie welcomed a variety of starry-eyed contestants to sing their hearts out.
While Richie seemed to be the consummate professional throughout the show, he at times had to keep Perry and Bryan on track when they began to goof off. Perry and Bryan's antics aside, both nights one and two of American Idol's new season delivered some standout moments. As for the wannabe pop sensations themselves, well, they of course each had backstory that made them either endearing or in true AI fashion, weird as weird can be.
Here's a recap of American Idol 2018 auditions and contestants from the first two nights who will be moving on to Hollywood.
Mara Justine - The second night of auditions wasted no time finding talent with Ryan Seacrest catching 15-year-old Mara Justine off guard during her pre-audition interview. The starstruck teen didn't let Seacrest rattle her though, and impressed all three judges with her rendition of Rihanna's "Love on the Brain." Follow her @MaraJustine1.
Christina Jones - The St. Louis teen not only delivered an impressive audition that won her a place in the Hollywood lineup, but did so as Luke Bryan pointed out with braces and rubber bands in her mouth. Quite the feat indeed.
William Casanova - Some contestants walk through the door nervous and then knock the judges over. William Casanova was a smooth operator from the second he came in and belted out "A Song for You." All three judges enjoyed his performance, but Richie did point out that Casanova wavered on a few notes. Regardless, he was smooth enough to win that golden Hollywood ticket. Follow him @WillCasanovaDC.
Andrew Weaver - Georgia resident Andrew Weaver came in and bowled the judges over with his guitar-accompanied rendition of Ed Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud"
Griffen Tucker - We didn't get to see a lot of the long-haired blonde "Lady Madonna" singer, but both Richie and Perry were impressed by the "old soul" and sent him packing for Hollywood. Follow him @gktrocks.
Brandon Diaz- The 21-year-old from Virginia with a powerful falsetto had the honor of Perry calling him "the best male singer we've seen so far." Belting out "Unaware" by Allen Stone, he easily won over all three judges and walked out of the audition room to greet his awaiting family, golden ticket in hand. Follow him @BrandonDMusic.
Trevor Holmes - Whether or not Trevor ends up winning American Idol, the 27-year-old "part-time construction worker who loves his mama" has already won over the heart of judge Katy Perry. Oh, and the Perry/Holmes love connection resulted in a "yes" for him going to Hollywood. Follow the future Mr. Perry @tholmesmusic.
Laine Hardy - The shy teen from Louisiana admitted that performing in front of others didn't come easy for him, but had no trouble impressing the judges with "Hurricane" by Band of Heathens. With a voice that sounded a lifetime older than the teen, Perry welcomed Hardy aboard with a simple "you're in." Follow him @lainehardy_ .
Gabbii Jones - With a 30-day make it or break it ultimatum from her father, St. Louis' Gabii Jones came in ready to conquer. The singer wasted no time letting her vocal chops do the talking with Ariana Grande's "Dangerous Woman." She not only put her own spin on the song, but walked out as one of Richie's favorite contestants so far.
Cameron Theodos - All three judges saw something in Theodos, but agreed that he had some growing vocally to do. Time will tell if the 25-year-old aspiring singer/songwriter has what it takes to make it to the finals.
Thaddeus Johnson - Johnson told the judges that life has been a struggle and music was the thing that kept him going. Johnson's touching story and impressive weight loss aside, it was the strength in his voice that won him the Hollywood ticket.
Garrett Jacobs - American Idol fans have been familiar with the face of Benton, Louisiana's Garrett Jacobs for a few weeks now, regularly seeing him in the show's commercials. Jacobs might not be a clear standout - though choosing to sing "A Man's World" didn't hurt - as Idol already has its fair share of good-looking guitar-toting dudes this season. Then again, it worked for Bo Bice and Phillip Phillips. Follow him @garrett_jacobs_.
Rissa Watson - Perry wasted no time telling the 17-year-old from Oklahoma that she got full body chills after listening to her performance Adele's "When We Were Young." Aside from telling her that she didn't need the guitar, all three judges were on board for Rissa Watson moving on.
David Francisco - All of the Idol contestants had their own stories of their connection to music, but none touched the judges quite like David Francisco. Francisco became partially paralyzed just three weeks after moving to Nashville, but didn't let him stop him from pursing a career in music. With his fiancée standing in the wings, Francisco nailed it with "Isn't She Lovely."
Ron Bultongez - The immigrant from the Congo who told the judges about how he had grown up in an abusive home nearly didn't make it through. Ron impressed Luke Bryan with his rendition of James Bay's "Let It Go," but it wasn't enough for Katy Perry and Lionel Richie who both said no. It wouldn't be American Idol without a few twists though, and after Bryan argued that Bultongez should make it through Lionel agreed and Ron was on his way. Follow him @RonBultongez.
Zach D'Onforino - Make no mistake about it, no contestant on night one shocked the judges more than Zach D'Onforino. You could see doubt written all over Luke Bryan's face when Zach said he'd only been singing for about a year. That look of doubt instantly turned to shock when the sock-loving singer broke out into a Frank Sinatra tune. His singing voice may have been miles away from his speaking voice, but it was enough to convince Katy Perry to dance with him. Follow him @zachdonforino.
Dennis Lorenzo - The West Philadelphia singer/songwriter was the final contestant of the night to make it through and one of standouts from night one. Lorenzo not only impressed the judges with his version of "Unaware" by Alex Jones, but won the judges over of how he went from being homeless on the streets of Los Angeles to being the father that he never had for his baby girl. Follow him @hllywdrenz.
Maddie Poppe - I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Maddie Poppe does a better version of "Rainbow Connection" than Kermit. No disrespect to frogs of course. Lionel had kind words for the 19-year-old college student and said she had a "stotytelling voice." It was an easy yes from all three judges. Follow her @MaddiePoppe.
Harper Grace - Prior to American Idol, Harper Grace was best-known for butchering our National Anthem back in 2012. The now 16-year-old singer redeemed herself with an original song titled "Yard Sale" and won the judges over with both her singing and songwriting. 'A lot of real details in that song," said a noticeably impressed Perry. Follow her @HarperGraceXO.
Layla Spring - If you can get the American Idol judges on your side by trotting out your cute kid sister, by all means, go for it. That's just what 16-year-old Kentucky singer Layla Spring did when she brought out her 7-year-old sister Dyxie to help her sing "Blue" before singing the Jackson 5 song "Who's Lovin' You" solo. Follow her @laylaspringg.
Noah Davis - It was hard not to root for Noah Davis from the second he walked in the room. Luke Bryan pointing out how much Noah was blushing around Katy Perry did little to rattle Noah who delivered a moving rendition of Rihanna's "Stay" on the piano and just like that, became one step closer to his dream of becoming an Idol winner and getting that farm of alpacas he told Lionel Richie he wanted. Follow him at @noahdavis50.
Alyssa Raghu - Alyssa sounded both more polished and more confident in her singing abilities than most of the other contestants. Considering that she's only 15, it speaks volumes about her potential down the road. She and her equally excited father clearly felt like they'd already won when she got her ticket to Hollywood and it's likely she won't be going home any time soon. Follow her @AlyssaRaghu.