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'You are exactly what we look for, what we pray for': Vancouver teen stuns judges on American Idol

He's just 17 years old.
The 17-year-old Tyson Venegas wowed the judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie on the first episode of American Idol's 21st season.

Tyson Venegas is going to Hollywood!

But that's not all — the 17-year-old Vancouver high school student impressed judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie so much on the first episode of this season's American Idol they gave him a rare Platinum Ticket.

"We flipped the switch now. I inspired him back then; he just inspired us today," said Richie after Venegas's stunning performance of Billy Joel's "New York State of Mind."

Venegas has been performing for much of his life; in fact, this isn't his first reality TV show. At the beginning of 2020, when he was just 14, he appeared on The Voice Teens Philippines but dropped out because of the pandemic. He's also performed around Vancouver and in the U.S.

Now he's already one of the standouts in this season's Idol competition, which is only one episode in. The Platinum Ticket Venegas earned at the show's Las Vegas auditions sends him straight to Hollywood, and means he skips the first round of competition during Hollywood Week. Only a few tickets will be handed out this season, and Venegas got the first.

"You are exactly what we look for, what we pray for," said Bryan.

"And you're there," added Richie, before telling Venegas and his mom, who came in after his performance. 

His performance impressed people beyond the three judges, too: of the Black Eyed Peas shared Venegas's performance on Instagram.