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Douglas Mills,18, wows the judges with talent ‘that’s from another planet’ on American Idol

An 18-year-old bullied teenager named Douglas Mills became an instant superstar on Sunday night’s episode of American Idol.

Mills had been bullied his whole life for looking different, and had never even left the state of Texas before the local ABC news affiliate in Houston discovered his singing and got him an ‘affiliate pass’ to audition for the show’s 20th Season, during its auditions in Austin, Texas.

His powerful performance moved the judges who all hugged him after his performance and wondered if he was from ‘another planet.’ 

Superstar: An 18-year-old bullied teenager named Douglas Mills became an instant superstar on Sunday night’s episode of American Idol

Another planet: His powerful performance moved the judges who all hugged him after his performance and wondered if he was from 'another planet'

Another planet: His powerful performance moved the judges who all hugged him after his performance and wondered if he was from ‘another planet’

The episode begins with one of the contestants being greeted by Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx, as the musicians express their excitement to audition on the Sunset Strip in Hollywood.

The three judges – Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie – walk into the room and find Nikki Sixx playing the Motley Crue classic Home Sweet Home.

The judges get get situated as Perry takes a huge mouthful of supplements, as Lionel is wowed that she actually got them all down.

Supplements: The judges get get situated as Perry takes a huge mouthful of supplements, as Lionel is wowed that she actually got them all down

Supplements: The judges get get situated as Perry takes a huge mouthful of supplements, as Lionel is wowed that she actually got them all down

Za, 21, originally from Miami but living in Los Angeles, is up first, revealing to Ryan Seacrest that her mother was on the show – Nadia Turner, who made the Top 10 back in 2004 in Season 4.

She tells Ryan that she needs his help surprising her mother, because she has no idea her daughter is auditioning.

When Nadia was asked where she thought she was going, Nadia said, ‘The damn spa,’ as Za reveals she’s wearing the same top her mother wore during her audition.

Mother and daughter: Za, 21, originally from Miami but living in Los Angeles, is up first, revealing to Ryan Seacrest that her mother was on the show - Nadia Turner, who made the Top 10 back in 2004 in Season 4

Mother and daughter: Za, 21, originally from Miami but living in Los Angeles, is up first, revealing to Ryan Seacrest that her mother was on the show – Nadia Turner, who made the Top 10 back in 2004 in Season 4

She sings Bust the Windows Out Your Car by Jazmine Sullivan, which thoroughly impresses the judges.

Lionel Richie gets up for an Idol first, giving the handkerchief to her mother instead of the singer, joking that from now on he will bring ‘two handkerchiefs.’

Luke says he ‘killed that song’ and when she’s in the zone she’s ‘tremendous.’

Tremendous: Luke says he ‘killed that song’ and when she’s in the zone she’s ‘tremendous'

Tremendous: Luke says he ‘killed that song’ and when she’s in the zone she’s ‘tremendous’

‘I think you’ve got a lot of things going for you,’ Perry says, adding she has a ‘cool vibe through and through.’

‘I think you have the real beginnings of being a real artist,’ Perry adds.

Richie says it’s such a ‘heartwarming story,’ as all of the judges vote yes, sending her to Hollywood.

Vibe: ‘I think you’ve got a lot of things going for you,’ Perry says, adding she has a ‘cool vibe through and through'

Vibe: ‘I think you’ve got a lot of things going for you,’ Perry says, adding she has a ‘cool vibe through and through’ 

‘The two of you are absolutely precious together,’ Richie added, as Perry asked Za – who has roots in fashion – to style her.

Nadia says she can’t surprise her like that anymore as they embrace while heading off.

The next contestant – Thomas Patrick Moran from Denver, Colorado – who comes from a family of Irish dancers.

Family: The next contestant - Thomas Patrick Moran from Denver, Colorado - who comes from a family of Irish dancers

Family: The next contestant – Thomas Patrick Moran from Denver, Colorado – who comes from a family of Irish dancers

Thomas’ mother comes out as they show off some dancing moves, as he reveals he’s a marketing coordinator.

Thomas keeps rambling about how the judges are all icons as Perry tries to get him back on track by saying, ‘Thomas off.’

He sings Chain of Fools by Aretha Franklin, but he doesn’t impress the judges as they tell him to get serious, as he says for the second time he’s, ‘having the time of his life.’

Off: Thomas keeps rambling about how the judges are all icons as Perry tries to get him back on track by saying, ‘Thomas off'

Off: Thomas keeps rambling about how the judges are all icons as Perry tries to get him back on track by saying, ‘Thomas off’

His second song – River by Leon Bridges – goes much better, as the judges are much more impressed.

‘You do have a singing voice but your personality is much bigger than you’re giving us,’ Luke says, as Lionel thinks he’s a ‘host.’

Perry ‘wholeheartedly disagrees’ with the other judges, telling him that she did a cartwheel that ended in the splits, admitting it was too much.’

Disagrees: Perry ‘wholeheartedly disagrees’ with the other judges, telling him that she did a cartwheel that ended in the splits, admitting it was too much'

Disagrees: Perry ‘wholeheartedly disagrees’ with the other judges, telling him that she did a cartwheel that ended in the splits, admitting it was too much’

She thinks there is ‘something there’ and gives him the first yes, as Bryan says no, as it comes down to Richie.

Richie says he used to be the class clown too, and he thinks Thomas would be ‘hilarious’ in Hollywood week, and gives him a yes, sending him to Hollywood.

He tells Seacrest that they told him he would be a good host, as he gets Thomas to send them to a commercial break in his own unique way.

Sam: Perry even makes a shirt for Sam and two other contestants - Lydia and Grac - to try and get them to come back for another chance, with Katy getting her wish, with Sam giving her a hug

Sam: Perry even makes a shirt for Sam and two other contestants – Lydia and Grac – to try and get them to come back for another chance, with Katy getting her wish, with Sam giving her a hug

Perry reveals in confession they’ve been doing this for five years and they don’t ‘argue a lot’ but lately they have been disagreeing – in particular with Sam Moss, who Perry voted yes for and Bryan and Richie voted no for.

One contestant Perry voted yes for but Luke and Lionel voted no, which shocked Perry, but the same thing happened with two other women.

Perry even makes a shirt for Sam and two other contestants – Lydia and Grac – to try and get them to come back for another chance, with Katy getting her wish, with Sam giving her a hug.

Katy says she talks about her all the time and she’s part of a redemption story as Katy says the guys are ‘always against her’ as Bryan says Katy should realize she’s not always right.

The Winterset, Iowa native goes to the piano and starts singing an original song, which starts bringing Perry to tears as she puts her Sam & Lydia & Grace shirt on over her leopard-print dress.

She finishes the song and all three judges stand up and clap, as Luke says, ‘Thank God you got so much better in such a short time.’

Better: She finishes the song and all three judges stand up and clap, as Luke says, ‘Thank God you got so much better in such a short time'

Better: She finishes the song and all three judges stand up and clap, as Luke says, ‘Thank God you got so much better in such a short time’

Luke gives her a yes as Katy gets emotional and asks why she didn’t sing that original the first time around, because it was one of the best originals all season.

‘I was trying to be what I thought you wanted me to be,’ Sam said, as they all told her to start believing in herself.

‘You are a great songwriter and I believe in you, Perry told her, as Sam went out to share the good news with her family through video conferencing.

Before seeing more contestants then start singing karaoke, all three singing Endless Love together.

The next contestant is Kenzie Elizabeth, a 20-year-old from Roseville, California, who said she started ventriloquism when she was 12 years old.

Next: The next contestant is Kenzie Elizabeth, a 20-year-old from Roseville, California, who said she started ventriloquism when she was 12 years old

Next: The next contestant is Kenzie Elizabeth, a 20-year-old from Roseville, California, who said she started ventriloquism when she was 12 years old

Kenzie is there with her grandmother, who took her to the 10th anniversary concert when she was just 10.

Kenzie tells the judges she dabbles in ventriloquism and that she’s singing I’m Always With You by Avil Lavigne.

Her vocal range impresses the judges as they all clap for her, as Katy says she’s never heard that song, ‘delivered with such passion and acting.’

Richie says he loved it with the ‘dilemma’ with her is turning that to pop music, as they all vote no for her.

She goes back to tell the news to her grandma the news, as she breaks down in tears

Dilemma: Richie says he loved it with the ‘dilemma’ with her is turning that to pop music, as they all vote no for her.

Dilemma: Richie says he loved it with the ‘dilemma’ with her is turning that to pop music, as they all vote no for her.

‘I was too theater, but they loved my voice and they said I have an amazing career in musical theater. It’s amazing. They’re beautiful people. Absolutely amazing. It’s everything I could have dreamed of,’ Kenzie tells her grandmother.

‘The next character – Fritz, a 21-year-old from Tyler, Texas, reveals he was inspired to start playing the guitar by American Idol winner Phillip Phillips, who gives him a special video message.

He comes on stage with his acoustic guitar and tells the judges that he’s singing Before You Go by Lewis Capaldi.

Katy tells him the ‘chorus was pretty good’ and it has a lot of ‘potential’ but that was when it only started getting interesting.

Perry thinks that when you put him with other singers he will get stronger, and she thinks he deserves a shot and votes yes.

Bryan says that he thinks he needs a little more work and votes no, but Lionel Richie agrees with Katy and votes yes, sending Fritz to Hollywood.

‘I remember when Philip Philipps auditioned and I saw him get his ticket, and just to be where he was, it’s awesome,’ Fritz says.

He adds that he doubts himself a lot, adding, ‘It’s like a weight that I put on myself,’ though now that he’s going to Hollywood, ‘it’s kinda gone now, I hope.’

A number of contestants reveal what previous Idol contestants inspired them… with one of them saying his inspiration is William Hung, the ‘singer’ who had no experience and just went for it.

The contestant – 23-year-old Kevin Gullage from Now Orleans – clearly has training, heading to the piano to sing Otis Redding’s That’s How Strong My Love Is.

Trained: The contestant - 23-year-old Kevin Gullage from Now Orleans - clearly has training, heading to the piano to sing Otis Redding’s That’s How Strong My Love Is

Trained: The contestant – 23-year-old Kevin Gullage from Now Orleans – clearly has training, heading to the piano to sing Otis Redding’s That’s How Strong My Love Is

The judges all clap as Lionel says he grew up with that song and his performance was ‘incredible’ and Katy said ‘that was crazy.’

Luke says he loves his smile, saying, ‘You look like someone anyone can talk to.’ but before they vote, Perry says she wants more.

Each of the judges were given an instrument as he sings the Hank Williams classic Jambalaya with all of the judges helping out.

They all unanimously send him to Hollywood, as Kevin reveals this was one of the best days of his life.’

The next contestant is Charvonay – who jokes it’s like Chardonay but better, as she says she’s Phil Charlans because she’s been waiting for this moment all her life.

Crazy: The judges all clap as Lionel says he grew up with that song and his performance was ‘incredible’ and Katy said ‘that was crazy'

Crazy: The judges all clap as Lionel says he grew up with that song and his performance was ‘incredible’ and Katy said ‘that was crazy’

Char: The next contestant is Charvonay - who jokes it’s like Chardonay but better, as she says she’s Phil Charlans because she’s been waiting for this moment all her life

Char: The next contestant is Charvonay – who jokes it’s like Chardonay but better, as she says she’s Phil Charlans because she’s been waiting for this moment all her life

Sadly, the judges all voted no but they love her spirit, as she tells the camera that if it was a no for them it could be a yes for you.

One of the contestants says he heard they’ve been ‘a little tough’ today, as we see a montage of contestants who have failed.

No: Sadly, the judges all voted no but they love her spirit, as she tells the camera that if it was a no for them it could be a yes for you

No: Sadly, the judges all voted no but they love her spirit, as she tells the camera that if it was a no for them it could be a yes for you

The next contestant reveals he got a golden ticket in 2019 before getting eliminated in Hollywood, saying it was, ‘a little discouraging,’ but it ‘gave me the kick in the butt I needed.’

He revealed that he has lost 60 pounds since his first audition and he feels more confident… mostly, adding he wants to show them how much he has changed.

Luke says he remembers him as he says his name is Jacob Moran, a 27-year-old nurse from Michigan, as Katy says she felt he was in disbelief the whole time.

Disbelief: Luke says he remembers him as he says his name is Jacob Moran, a 27-year-old nurse from Michigan, as Katy says she felt he was in disbelief the whole time

Disbelief: Luke says he remembers him as he says his name is Jacob Moran, a 27-year-old nurse from Michigan, as Katy says she felt he was in disbelief the whole time

He reveals he’s going to sing Rise by Katy Perry, which stuns the judges as Perry asks if he’s sure he wants to do this, and he is.

The performance leads to a standing ovation from the judges, as Perry says, ‘Wow. When you think the final nail is in, think again.’

Perry added he chose the right song and he did it justice, as all three judges vote yes and send him to Hollywood and welcome him back.

‘I’m gonna do it this time. I’m going all the way,’ he tells his family through video conferencing.

Perry says in a confessional that they welcome all types, but they have ‘a lot of bad habits,’ which we see in a montage of ‘growling’ contestants.

The judges themselves discuss their own bad habits, with Luke saying he thought ‘louder meant talent,’ though Richie was the opposite, adding, ‘My habit was I could not sing loud enough.’

The next contestant – 23-year-old Haley Slaton from Cedar Rapids, Iowa – revealed she’s five and a half months pregnant.

Pregnant: The next contestant - 23-year-old Haley Slaton from Cedar Rapids, Iowa - revealed she’s five and a half months pregnant

Pregnant: The next contestant – 23-year-old Haley Slaton from Cedar Rapids, Iowa – revealed she’s five and a half months pregnant

‘I grew up in church, singing, so I’ve been singing since I was 3 years old. This is something I’ve always wanted to do. I really cannot believe we’re here right now. I know! I’m so excited. I’m here today with my mom. She was a single mom of three,’ she said. 

Perry says that if she goes through, she will have her baby on the show, which Slaton realizes, before singing The Climb by Miley Cyrus.

The judges were all silent after the performance, with Perry asking if she can hit that note, which she does twice.

Luke says there were ‘some amateur moments but there were some real moments’ as Richie says the baby is close to the lungs and that could affect her singing.

Moments: Luke says there were ‘some amateur moments but there were some real moments’ as Richie says the baby is close to the lungs and that could affect her singing

Moments: Luke says there were ‘some amateur moments but there were some real moments’ as Richie says the baby is close to the lungs and that could affect her singing

Perry admitted that she had to, ‘drop everything down a half step’ when she was pregnant with her child, but she reveals that the judges just aren’t sure.

They ask when else she was thinking of singing, and she says One And Only by Adele, as Katy gives her some words of encouragement.

‘Fight for it. Okay. Okay. You’re fighting for your son, your future, your voice to be heard,’ she tells the singer.

Haley starts singing One And Only, which impresses the judges early on, as she sings and asks the judges to give her a chance.

Perry says she has to give it everything just like that every time and she says they will, as they all vote to send her to Hollywood.

Everything: Perry says she has to give it everything just like that every time and she says they will, as they all vote to send her to Hollywood

Everything: Perry says she has to give it everything just like that every time and she says they will, as they all vote to send her to Hollywood

‘It’s a difficult journey that I’m on but I’m not gonna give up. I’ve gotta keep pushing,’ she says.

The auditions have moved to Nashville as 19-year-old Ellie Rowe from Nashville comes in to audition, whose parents had a bluegrass band when she was growing up.

She goes to the piano and sings, ‘Give You Blue by Allen Stone, which immediately impresses the judges as they all clap for her.

Perry thinks she has a ‘very commercial voice’ and she seems like the girl next door type but she thinks she needs to fight a little, but she gives her a yes.

Richie says she, ‘loves her whole being,’ and gives her a yes, as Bryan also gives her a yes, but challenges her to, ‘test her full voice’ and ‘dig in a little.’

A number of younger contestants reveal their way into the music business was on TikTok, including Daniel Marshall Griffith from Chesapeake, Virginia, who played linebacker for Virginia Tech University.

TikTok: A number of younger contestants reveal their way into the music business was on TikTok, including Daniel Marshall Griffith from Chesapeake, Virginia, who played linebacker for Virginia Tech University

TikTok: A number of younger contestants reveal their way into the music business was on TikTok, including Daniel Marshall Griffith from Chesapeake, Virginia, who played linebacker for Virginia Tech University

He revealed he just started doing live performances five or six months ago, and he forced himself to sing at his grandfather’s memorial.

His first public performance was in June 2021 and he played for three hours for about $150.

He sings The Dance by Garth Brooks, with Lionel saying he has natural talent, which Katy agrees with.

‘It’s not there, but the foundation is secure,’ Perry says, as Bryan thinks that he thinks playing the guitar is taking focus from his singing.

They all vote yes and send him to Hollywood, as he shows his ticket to his girlfriend, saying that the golden ticket is, ‘by far better than winning a football game.’

Yes: They all vote yes and send him to Hollywood, as he shows his ticket to his girlfriend, saying that the golden ticket is, ‘by far better than winning a football game'

Yes: They all vote yes and send him to Hollywood, as he shows his ticket to his girlfriend, saying that the golden ticket is, ‘by far better than winning a football game’

The final contestant of the night is Douglas Mills, an 18-year-old from Houston, Texas, who got an ‘affiliate pass’ to audition for American Idol after his local news station heard him singing in school.

‘I have always wanted to audition for American Idol, but I’ve never really left the state or been on an airplane. It was just — I was about to faint honestly, like… Oh, my God, thank you. It was a complete surprise. And this is my shot,’ Douglas said.

He revealed he’s been bullied all of his life, adding, ‘I’ve been called gorilla, King Kong. People said, you can’t be that person that you want to be. It was very painful. And I was like, what’s going on?’

Affiliate: The final contestant of the night is Douglas Mills, an 18-year-old from Houston, Texas, who got an ‘affiliate pass’ to audition for American Idol after his local news station heard him singing in school

Affiliate: The final contestant of the night is Douglas Mills, an 18-year-old from Houston, Texas, who got an ‘affiliate pass’ to audition for American Idol after his local news station heard him singing in school

Faint: ‘I have always wanted to audition for American Idol, but I've never really left the state or been on an airplane. It was just -- I was about to faint honestly, like... Oh, my God, thank you. It was a complete surprise. And this is my shot,’ Douglas said

Faint: ‘I have always wanted to audition for American Idol, but I’ve never really left the state or been on an airplane. It was just — I was about to faint honestly, like… Oh, my God, thank you. It was a complete surprise. And this is my shot,’ Douglas said

Bullied: He revealed he’s been bullied all of his life, adding, ‘I've been called gorilla, King Kong. People said, you can't be that person that you want to be. It was very painful. And I was like, what's going on?'

Bullied: He revealed he’s been bullied all of his life, adding, ‘I’ve been called gorilla, King Kong. People said, you can’t be that person that you want to be. It was very painful. And I was like, what’s going on?’

He added it is, ‘still hard for me to love myself, but music has helped me out. When I’m singing, I don’t care what no one says.

He reveals he’s singing Strange Fruit, by Milt Raskin, adding, ‘I picked this song especially for the Black community, because we have gone through so much pain over the past few centuries.

The judges were stunned, with Richie saying that was superb,’ as Perry wondered why he had never auditioned for the show before.

Still hard: He added it is, ‘still hard for me to love myself, but music has helped me out. When I'm singing, I don't care what no one says

Still hard: He added it is, ‘still hard for me to love myself, but music has helped me out. When I’m singing, I don’t care what no one says

Song: He reveals he’s singing Strange Fruit, by Milt Raskin, adding, ‘I picked this song especially for the Black community, because we have gone through so much pain over the past few centuries

Song: He reveals he’s singing Strange Fruit, by Milt Raskin, adding, ‘I picked this song especially for the Black community, because we have gone through so much pain over the past few centuries

Superb: The judges were stunned, with Richie saying that was superb'

Wonder: Perry wondered why he had never auditioned for the show before

Superb: The judges were stunned, with Richie saying that was superb,’ as Perry wondered why he had never auditioned for the show before

‘People have always told me I wasn’t good enough for it,’ he said, as Perry said, ‘Oh! Oh! Those people can go to h-e-double hockey sticks. Are you kidding me? Is that really why you never tried out?’

He answered, ‘A little bit, and I was too scared and was thinking I wasn’t gonna make it or anything like that.’

Perry told him, ‘You’re a superstar. You transcend time and space. You froze the room. That was iconic.’

Really: ‘People have always told me I wasn't good enough for it,’ he said, as Perry said, ‘Oh! Oh! Those people can go to h-e-double hockey sticks. Are you kidding me? Is that really why you never tried out?'

Really: ‘People have always told me I wasn’t good enough for it,’ he said, as Perry said, ‘Oh! Oh! Those people can go to h-e-double hockey sticks. Are you kidding me? Is that really why you never tried out?’

Scared: He answered, ‘A little bit, and I was too scared and was thinking I wasn't gonna make it or anything like that'

Scared: He answered, ‘A little bit, and I was too scared and was thinking I wasn’t gonna make it or anything like that’

Superstar: Perry told him, ‘You're a superstar. You transcend time and space. You froze the room. That was iconic'

Superstar: Perry told him, ‘You’re a superstar. You transcend time and space. You froze the room. That was iconic’

Bryan added, ‘It was like you took our bodies and you hypnotized us. You just took us on a journey. You controlled every second of that. Yeah. I don’t know. I’m speechless about it.

Richie said, ‘You know what you don’t need? Charts. You don’t need pop charts, r&b charts. You’re off the charts. Yeah. In fact, you might even create one of your own.’

They unanimously voted him to Hollywood and gave him a hug, calling him, ‘The person from another planet.’

Speechless: Bryan added, ‘It was like you took our bodies and you hypnotized us. You just took us on a journey. You controlled every second of that. Yeah. I don't know. I'm speechless about it

Speechless: Bryan added, ‘It was like you took our bodies and you hypnotized us. You just took us on a journey. You controlled every second of that. Yeah. I don’t know. I’m speechless about it

Charts: Richie said, ‘You know what you don't need? Charts. You don't need pop charts, r&b charts. You're off the charts. Yeah. In fact, you might even create one of your own'

Charts: Richie said, ‘You know what you don’t need? Charts. You don’t need pop charts, r&b charts. You’re off the charts. Yeah. In fact, you might even create one of your own’

Hug: They unanimously voted him to Hollywood and gave him a hug, calling him, ‘The person from another planet'

Hug: They unanimously voted him to Hollywood and gave him a hug, calling him, ‘The person from another planet’

His mother Sarita came onto the stage to give him a hug, adding, ‘He strived. He worked hard. He never gave up, and he’s got that golden ticket to show for it.’

A stunned Perry added, ‘Thank You Houston, Texas,’ as Bryan added, ‘Thank you, ABC in Houston, and thank you for getting that boy safely to Austin, as the episode comes to an end.

American Idol wraps up its final night of auditions on Monday, March 21 at 8 PM ET on ABC.

Hugs: His mother Sarita came onto the stage to give him a hug, adding, ‘He strived. He worked hard. He never gave up, and he's got that golden ticket to show for it'

Hugs: His mother Sarita came onto the stage to give him a hug, adding, ‘He strived. He worked hard. He never gave up, and he’s got that golden ticket to show for it’

Thanks: A stunned Perry added, ‘Thank You Houston, Texas,’ as Bryan added, ‘Thank you, ABC in Houston, and thank you for getting that boy safely to Austin, as the episode comes to an end

Thanks: A stunned Perry added, ‘Thank You Houston, Texas,’ as Bryan added, ‘Thank you, ABC in Houston, and thank you for getting that boy safely to Austin, as the episode comes to an end

Auditions: American Idol wraps up its final night of auditions on Monday, March 21 at 8 PM ET on ABC

Auditions: American Idol wraps up its final night of auditions on Monday, March 21 at 8 PM ET on ABC

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