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Langhorne’s Catie Turner lands a spot in the Top 24 on ‘American Idol’

By Samantha Bambino

The Times

Pitch perfect: After auditioning for the celebrity judges on American Idol, Langhorne’s Catie Turner received a golden ticket to Hollywood, where she competed for the first time against the nation’s top talent. She earned a spot in the Top 24. Source: ABC

Editor’s note: Catie Turner made it into the Top 14 on the April 9 episode after this article was written/published

Catie Turner was never really the cool kid.

“I am the girl who could skip school for two weeks and no one would notice until one person says, ‘oh where’s Catie?’”

But those days are over. On March 11, the entire country was introduced to this bubbly 18-year old from Langhorne when she auditioned in front of Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie on the season 16 premiere of American Idol. The star-studded trio agreed that Turner, who sported her signature white gogo boots (which you can get on Amazon), was the epitome of “unique” in the best way possible.

Turner was given the coveted golden ticket to Hollywood to see if her artistry could hold its own against the nation’s top talent. Though it was possibly the most grueling week of her young life, Turner made it out alive, landing a spot in the Top 24 during the episode that aired April 2.

Like any reality show, there’s a lot viewers don’t get to see, especially concerning the emotions surrounding Hollywood Week. To find out what went on both behind-the-scenes and in her head, The Times caught up with Turner, who provided a breakdown of each stressful round.

Filmed in January, the Hollywood shows chronicled the official post-audition start of the season as 169 contestants from across the country went head-to-head for the first time. For Turner, it was the experience of a lifetime.

“My first time in California was being in a competition that could make or break my dreams,” she said. “No pressure.”

The first round of the competition required the singers to show the judges what they could do in under 40 seconds. In other words, it better be good.

“That was absolutely terrifying,” Turner recalled. “I thought, as long as I make it through this, I’m good.”

Despite some (OK, a lot) of nerves and self-doubt, which are natural feelings in this foreign, high-pressure environment, Turner flawlessly executed her round one performance of “Come Together” by The Beatles. After all the contestants had their turn, they were divided into lines of 10 as the judges made their first cuts.

Though Turner was relieved to hear she was safe, she mourned the elimination of her friend Zach D’Onofrio, the sock-obsessed crooner who could give former Idol judge Harry Connick Jr. a run for his money.

“When he got on the plane and left, it was truly a soap opera,” Turner said.

Still, round one had its perks. Not only does Turner have a rocking pair of American flag socks gifted to her by D’Onofrio, she can brag to the haters that she bear-hugged Bryan, Perry and Richie in the span of 10 seconds.

So how did this rare achievement come to be? According to Turner, every contestant was giving pageant answers to the judges as to why they should be the next American Idol. Naturally, she wanted to stand out but was blanking on a response. Panicking, she said the first thing that came to mind — “I give good hugs!”

Her spur-of-the-moment outburst worked, and before she knew it, the three were walking on stage to experience a true Turner hug for themselves.

Next up was the dreaded group round, which forces contestants to work together on a joint performance. In past seasons of American Idol, this portion of the competition was a breaking point for many. Group members clashed, others disappeared mid-rehearsal, and some forgot every lyric on performance day due to lack of sleep.

Thankfully, Turner’s foursome of fierce females Alyssa Raghu, Victoria McQueen and Kyah Robinson didn’t experience any of these troubles, despite the fact that working together wasn’t planned out at all. The contestants were required to pick their own group members, but Turner warned the term “pick” should be used lightly.

“It means you’re unleashed in a room together,” she said. “I just looked to my left, saw two of the girls, looked to my right, I saw another. I grabbed them and said, ‘let’s go.’”

The girls aptly named themselves TACO! because they knew people would want to “taco-bout them.” They were right. Their performance of “La La La” by Naughty Boy and Sam Smith went over well with the judges, and all four survived yet another round.

The next day was solo round, and Turner took a major risk singing her anti-man anthem “Pity,” the lyrics of which can rival T-Swift. Though producers warned against her song selection, she went with her gut and once again, it paid off, landing her a spot in the Top 50.

Finally, it was the mother of all rounds — the showcase, where contestants performed for the first time with a live band and audience. Looking back, Turner deems her rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” as her weakest effort on the show. After her performance, she took the dreaded walk of doom to where the judges sat ready to deliver her fate.

“I would rather get stung by a bee,” she said of the walk. “I’d pick anything over that feeling. My heart was beating out of my chest.”

When Turner’s name was called, there were three girls waiting and only two spots left. Thankfully, the judges disagreed with her critique of her showcase performance, and offered her a spot in the Top 24.

Time will tell if Turner’s quirky yet endearing style and powerful voice will advance her to the Top 12, when the country can begin voting for their favorite contestants. Until then, she’ll continue to reap the benefits of that whirlwind week in Hollywood — newfound confidence, lifelong friends, and, most importantly, verification on Twitter.

“Being verified, I don’t know why but it made me cry. It kind of made me feel like a star almost,” she said. “Obama’s verified!” ••

Follow Turner’s journey on American Idol Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com

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