American Idol may still have a ways to go before the finals, but judge Katy Perry already has a favorite front runner.
In Sunday's episode of the ABC singing competition, half of the Top 20 competitors were paired with superstar duet partners, including Ben Harper, Julia Michaels, Shaggy, Lukas Graham, Chris Isaak, Cynthia Erivo, Jason Mraz, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, Elle King and lovelytheband.
Laci Kaye Booth, who has wowed the judges all season with her unique take on country, was paired with Brett Young for his hit song "Mercy," which hit just the right note with Perry especially.
“I mean, from the moment you walk onstage, you sprinkle stardust everywhere,” Perry said. “I thought I was watching something on the Grammys. I was like, ‘Best new artist,’ I don’t know. I don’t want to play favorites but … but fill in the blank!”
“So the country girl got you,” fellow judge Luke Bryan asked her, to which the pop princess replied, “It’s not about genre, it’s about feeling."
Needless to say, while Booth made it to the Top 14, the judges did have to bid farewell to Kate Barnett, Shawn Robinson and Bumbly at the end of the night.
“It’s such a diverse group of artists and it’s really them playing to their strengths inside their diversity," Bones told him.
Asked the biggest challenge within the group, Bones responded, “I think you have some great performers that are struggling with their stage presence. So it’s really trying to find what they’re strong at, and then get better on the other side of it. So, that’s what we’re working on.”
Bones would take an even more active role in Monday's episode, which featured the other 10 Top 20 singers performing their duets, taking over for Seacrest as host for the first time in the show's 17-year run.
"Welcome to American Idol. Now, I am not Ryan Seacrest; I am Bobby Bones," the Dancing With the Stars winner said at the start. "Sadly, Ryan is sick, and I look most like him so they asked me to fill his shoes tonight."
"Ryan, love you, buddy," Bones added. "Hope you get better.”
American Idol airs Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
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