Myra Tran decided to keep it in the “American Idol” family when she auditioned for ABC’s singing competition.
The 19-year-old Vietnamese immigrant became an instant frontrunner in Sunday’s Season 2 premiere with her stirring, soulful rendition of “One Night Only,” performed by “Idol” alum Jennifer Hudson in the 2006 movie musical “Dreamgirls,” which netted her a best supporting actress Oscar.
Wide-eyed in disbelief, judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan high-fived and jumped to their feet immediately following the powerhouse performance, comparing Tran to original “Idol” Kelly Clarkson, who won the show’s first season on Fox in 2002.
“You’re up there with the Kelly Clarksons of the world; that’s the only way that I can say it,” Bryan said.
“There’s nothing we can compare you to,” Richie raved. “You have stepped into a zone that’s yours, and what I want you to do from now on is rule your zone.”
The judges’ cooing over Tran’s broken English was cringeworthy, to say the least, as Perry waxed poetic about “music transcending language barriers” and later exclaimed, “I’ve never heard of a Vietnamese singer as good as you.”
But weepy backstories and manufactured viral moments have long plagued “Idol’s” audition rounds, and there was no shortage of either during Sunday’s two-hour opener.
Perry gleefully took part in a potato-chip eating contest with hopeful Johanna Jones that drew the episode to a screeching halt, and later wept crocodile tears when she learned the audition of formerly homeless Kai the Singer was sponsored by her church. And the less we say about the asinine VoKillz – who trolled the judges with his “mystic death trap metal” – the better.
“Idol” auditions continue with a new episode Wednesday (8 EST/PST).