'American Idol' Abi Carter on the Pressure of Being a Platinum Ticket

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For the past few seasons, in addition to handing out more than 125 Golden Tickets, the American Idol judges—Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie—have handed out three Platinum Tickets, which allow the holders to sit out the first round of Hollywood Week confident in the knowledge that they will make it through to the next round as they watch their fellow contestants perform.

This year, the three Platinum Ticket holders were Odell Bunton Jr., who has already been eliminated; and Julia Gagnon and Abi Carter, who are still in the running.

“I think that it’s really hard being put on a pedestal in the very, very beginning,” Abi told Parade in an exclusive interview at the Top 10 celebration. “Then you feel like you have to live up to that pedestal. But getting to this point, everybody is just so talented, there really is nobody that’s above or below anybody else. I think it’s just we’re all different, and that’s what it’s going to come down to.”

Related: American Idol Results Tonight: Who Went Home and Who Made the Top 7?

But last week, for the Top 7 competition, Abi finally came into her own. She got out from behind the piano and worked the stage with her performance of Evanescence’s “Bring Me To Life,” which was selected for her by Luke as part of the Judges’ Song Contest night, and she took everyone by surprise.

After hearing her sing it, Luke said, “When I chose that I didn’t really know I created a monster. Really, way to take it to another level. From the time of the first note to your approach, we knew it was game on and you were serious.”

“I think that was probably my favorite performance to date of myself,” Abi said in an intimate group interview after the show. “I just had the most fun. I’ve been so scared lately and so focused on the notes and … looking at the audience and stuff. This was the first time that I was like, ‘I just want to have fun,’ because we’re getting to the point where you really can’t predict who’s going to go home. Everybody here is just so talented. It gets to a point where you just have to surrender and have fun and be who you are. I think this is the first time that I really let that happen.”

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Abi Carter

Disney/Eric McCandless

One of the criticisms that Luke had given Abi for the Top 10 was she needed to get out from behind the piano and work the stage, which she then did for the Top 8 with her performance of “Clocks.” Lionel agreed with Luke’s assessment but Katy disagreed, until she saw Abi’s Top 7 performance and she said, “You just kicked down all the walls of the box I thought you were in. That was something brand new and that was the best performance of the night so far.”

Related: American Idol Judges Award the Second Platinum Ticket to the ‘Best Thing We’ve Ever Heard’

The 21-year-old from Indio, Calif., is happy with her decision to take to heart the advice she received from Luke and Lionel, which is why she decided to stand on her own two feet rather than sit on the piano bench.

“I immediately agreed with Luke and Lionel when they said that it felt like the same performance the night before,” Abi said of the judges’ previous comments. “I was feeling that going into it. I had felt like I wasn’t giving anything different. What is really important on the show is to show the sides of you. Staying true to yourself but showing the sides of you. I did Clocks [Top 8] and I had a fun time walking around the stage and it made me more confident going into [Top 7] learning how to work the stage.”

Abi, who is a songwriter in addition to being a singer, has adapted well to Idol’s theme nights, which mean she can’t perform her original songs but has to find a cover song that she can relate to and adapt to make her own.

Related: Jack Blocker Is the American Idol Who Made Katy Perry Apologize

“With these themed rounds, it’s harder to make sure that you’re staying true to yourself as an artist but still respecting and being a part of these rounds. You want to play into it, you don’t want to seem like you’re trying to skirt around the bush, but you also want to stay true to yourself.”

American Idol airs live from coast-to-coast on Sunday nights at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on ABC and streams next day on Hulu.

Next, Make Your Vote Count! How to Vote Online or By Text on American Idol 2024

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