‘American Idol’ Hopeful Olivia Soli Wows Lionel Richie With Her Version of “Hello”

It’s always a risk for American Idol hopefuls to sing a judge’s hit for their audition. It often doesn’t fare well for the contestant, but in Olivia Soli’s case, she received the highest of praises.

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The 20-year-old Los Angeles native wowed all three judges – Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie – on Sunday night (May 5). However, Soli received a standing ovation from Richie, in particular, for her rendition of his 1984 hit “Hello.”

Seated behind the piano, the college student admitted her nerves but laid down a chill-inducing re-imagining of the fan-favorite tune. She played a sparse piano arrangement but delivered with incredible vocal runs and an all-around impressive range.

By the end of her first verse, the judge’s panel was already moved with Bryan enraptured, Perry whispering, “She’s coming for your job,” and Richie giving the sign that she was hitting it out of the park. He could be seen mouthing along to his own song, visibly impressed.

[RELATED: Watch: Tanner Charles Sings Original Song for His Girlfriend on ‘American Idol’]

Richie stood as her performance came to a close, giving her a standing ovation. “I want to be the first in your long career to rush the artist,” he said once her song ended and walked over to give her a hug.

“When people say they’re going to sing your song … please don’t sing it like us,” he told her. “Own it. Take it and turn it into your song. You did it to perfection.” He added that she was the “best so far in this audition.”

While he said the piano held her back slightly, Bryan called her performance “tremendous” and one of the best auditions he’d seen. Perry added, “You put Lionel Richie out of a job, girl,” saying, “You really re-interpreted it. You put your own spin on it. You have a tremendous voice, so many incredible runs, so much soul.”

It was a resounding “yes” from the superstar trio and a jubilant “You’re going to Hollywood!” The judges added that she would probably be pushed harder than the other contestants, because, in Perry’s words, “We know that there’s a diamond in there.”

Check out Soli’s audition below.

Photo: ABC/Eric McCandless

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