Country-focused contestants took center stage early on in American Idol‘s newest episode on Sunday night, during the Genre Challenge that kicks off the show’s two-night Hollywood Week.
In addition to the musical skills on display, one Idol hopeful showed off his moves in the romance department. 17-year-old Kentucky native Alex Miller arrived to this week’s show with a custom-made belt buckle for one of his competitors who’s also focused on the country genre, Cameron McGhar.
“Hold on a second. There’s you a belt buckle,” Miller explained in a flashback segment of the episode, reaching into his back pocket to produce the gift for his friend. “Alex has a little belt buckle that has his name on it, and I told him in San Diego [at earlier auditions] that I loved it,” explains 16-year-old McGhar, who hails from Alabama.
As for why he went out of his way to find such a special, personalized gift? “‘Cause I like her,” Miller admits.
The young singer not only wowed McGhar with his thoughtful gift-giving skills, but he also wowed the judges with his spirited performance of bluegrass classic “Freeborn Man,” which has been performed by the likes of Jimmy Martin, Tony Rice and Glen Campbell. The young performer made the song his own, with charisma and polished stage presence that had the judges dancing along in their seats.
“Country just arrived, in my opinion, just then,” Luke Bryan commented as Miller left the stage.
The young Kentuckian’s performance was the third of three consecutive country-leaning performances to take place on Sunday night, preceded by McGhar’s rendition of Sugarland’s “Stay,” which judge Katy Perry praised as “authentic.” Leading off the three-pack of country songs was Caleb Kennedy’s gritty delivery of Chris Stapleton’s “Whiskey and You.”
American Idol airs on Sunday and Monday nights on ABC at 8PM ET. After Sunday’s Genre Challenge episode, the show will proceed on Monday, March 22 with its Duets Challenge.
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