'American Idol' recap: Contestants stun, inspire, bring judges to tears in auditions

In its second episode of the season Wednesday night, “American Idol” served up contestants who’ve overcome tremendous odds and impressed with their artistry, a returning contestant who made it through again and one guy who was so good that Katy Perry simply declared him to be the winner.

The tear-jerkers

Twenty-year-old Logan Johnson, formerly addicted to painkillers, admitted he’d put his family “through hell.”

He was celebrating eight months of sobriety during his audition and fittingly performed “Sober” by Demi Lovato. The judges brought Logan’s family in to witness their vote because, of course, he was going to Hollywood.

“Logan, you now have three more people on your support team,” said Lionel Richie.

Seventeen-year-old Shayy Winn has been legally blind for a year ever since doctors discovered a brain tumor, which they haven’t completely removed for fear of serious injury.

Her performance of Andra Day’s “Rise Up” brought Lionel Richie to tears; he had to jump up and hug her.

“You’re so inspiring,” Perry told Shayy, who’s going to Hollywood.

Fifteen-year-old Ethan Payne was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when he was 18 months old.

When he was 13, the Make-A-Wish Foundation arranged for him to meet Luke Bryan, who had him sing with him on stage and gave him his guitar.

Ethan walked in with that same guitar, and asked Bryan — who remembered him — to join him for a duet on his 2009 hit “Do I.” The judges loved his confidence and put him through to Hollywood.

The throwbacks

Twenty-five-year-old Courtney Penry, the “Crazy Chicken Girl” who made it to the group rounds back in 2011, returned for another shot, and blew Katy Perry away with her nutty personality.

The judges had her sing two songs — Chris Stapleton’s “Parachute” and Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” — before deciding to put her through. She admitted that eight years ago, she wasn’t ready.

Seventeen-year-old Karli Ryan was auditioning because 15 years ago, her mom, Chera, tried out for “American Idol,” but didn’t make it in front of the judges.

Karli, who said she’d give her golden ticket to her mom if she got through, played an original song on the piano. While the judges were impressed, they agreed that she just wasn’t ready yet.

The funny stuff

Landen Knowlton, 23, is an Army sergeant who was very nervous — until Perry asked him to yell at them like they were a bunch of new recruits. He really got into it, screaming at them to stand up straight and “drop and give me 20.” He also showed them how to stand at attention and how to be “at ease.”

He sang NEEDTOBREATHE’s song “Washed by the Water,” and made it to Hollywood.

Juan Pablo made Katy swoon with his dramatic performance of “Besame Mucho.” The two played out a hilarious mock-telenovela, which led to him kissing her hand, insisting that his girlfriend and her boyfriend — now fiancé — Orlando Bloom, wouldn’t mind.

“This is for Orlando,” Katy announced as he smooched her hand. Pablo also made it through to Hollywood.

The biggest surprise

An unassuming 24-year-old named Alejandro Aranda said he was a self-taught singer and guitarist who’d only been playing for three or four years.

He sang an original song called “Out Loud,” and blew the judges away with his astonishing guitar-picking skills and his voice. They were stunned, and then Richie asked him to play a song on the piano, at which he was equally amazing.

“I think you’re the winner,” Perry stated. “I think you’re an absolute genius.”

“I just feel like I’m in the presence of greatness. … I’ve just never see anything like that,” marveled Bryan. Lionel said it was a “religious experience.”

Of course, Alejandro’s going to Hollywood.

The rest

The other Hollywood tickets go to: Eddie Island, who calls himself the unofficial mayor of Nashville; strawberry farmer Kason Lester, who showed up with baskets of snacks for the judges; Betsy Jo, to whom Katy sent $20 via Venmo before giving her a golden ticket; and two male singer/guitarists named Jake Durkin and Cory Young.

“American Idol” continues Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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