Zack Dobbins, an 18-year-old country singer from Clay, West Virginia, wowed American Idol judges Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie and Katy Perry on Sunday night (March 8) with an original song so raw and unpretentious that Perry declared him a "diamond in the rough."
A pre-taped segment with Ryan Seacrest aired before Dobbins' American Idol audition, and it presented the West Virginian as a down to earth country boy who, like Carrie Underwood before him, had never flown on an airplane before landing a "golden ticket" to Hollywood.
"If I go and got big and famous, I'm gonna have, like, a single-wide trailer on an acre of land that's all flat, so I can just run the mower back and forth," Dobbins said. "And I'd still have the same truck. It just runs a little better."
After we learned the Dobbins' deep bluegrass roots, viewers of the ABC series got to know him even better through an original song titled "Miss Use."
That is, after Bryan tuned the acoustic guitar of Dobbins, who was muddy from riding his pickup truck Loretta to the audition.
Dobbins' performance and nonchalant presence--a refreshing change of pace from the typical, amped-up contestant--won over all three judges, who seem invested in teaching a natural country music singer a few industry tricks without watering down his honest approach.
"Zack, I don't think you know what you're doing. I don't think you need to know what you're doing," Idol judge Katy Perry said. "Yeah, a lot of these people out here, they're polished. They've been to some fancy school. They know blah, blah, blah. They can't sing half as good as you."