Instead of chasing that golden ticket to Hollywood with a cover song, 18-year-old Phil Kane won over all three American Idol judges with an original country song inspired by his Pawhuska, Okla. hometown.
Viewers first met Kane through host Ryan Seacrest as a student studying songwriting at Nashville's Belmont University. When asked about his favorite song topics, Kane gave two country radio-ready answers: "dirt roads" and "girls."
For his audition, Kane played "Osage County" on a white grand piano while milking all the home town sentimentality out of each of his lyrics.
"The moment you started playing the piano, your choices on the piano gave me chills," Perry said. "And then the storytelling of your song. I believed every single word. It was just so real and I really related to it. I'm not even from your little town, but I want to go and visit now. Osage County, I'm coming. I'm buying a shirt. It's just authenticity will get you so far....not about notes. It's about telling a story, isn't it Lionel Richie?"
"So Phil, I'm going to tell you something, songwriter to songwriter. [You] checked all the boxes," Richie added. "Your parallels were perfect, your hook was perfect, your storytelling voice was perfect. And the fact that you wrote that, my friend, at 18 years old, give me a break."
Kane interjected quite the surprise in response to Richie: "I actually wrote it when I was 16 years old. That's the first song I ever wrote."
Perry wrapped up the segment by encouraging Kane to remain true to himself as an artist throughout his Idol journey.
"If you go to this shiny place called Hollywood, don't try and compete with everyone else. Just try and highlight who you already are," she said. "Don't try and be something you're not, because that's how you'll not win."
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