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Why Katy Perry scolded a Utah teen on ‘American Idol’

Until now, Liahona Olayan had her brother by her side on ‘American Idol’

Liahona Olayan is pictured during Hollywood Week of “American Idol” on Monday night. Olayan, 17, ended up moving through to the next round.
ABC

Until now, Liahona Olayan had her brother by her side on “American Idol.”

The siblings from Vineyard, Utah, auditioned together and got their golden tickets to Hollywood together. And even when they competed against each other on Sunday night’s episode of “Idol” — the first round of Hollywood Week — they were both at least still in the competition together.

But then her brother got eliminated.

Olayan was now on her own, and she was emotional, fighting back tears. Hollywood Week was in full swing, though, and she had to move on and prepare for the next challenge: singing a duet with a fellow “Idol” contestant.

After each duet, the judges could choose to send one or both or none of the singers through to the next round.

The “Idol” judges paired Olayan, 17, with 15-year-old singer Laila Mach. The pair had 24 hours to put together a performance of the Rihanna song “Stay.” It was Olayan’s first time singing with someone who was not a family member.

“I’ve never been away from my family this long, so dreams and family, it’s just hard to balance it out,” Olayan said in a clip that aired during Monday night’s episode. “Especially my brother, he’s been by my side since the beginning. And now that he’s gone, it’s going to be getting harder, I guess you could say.”

Liahona Olayan & Laila Mach Duets Round American Idol 2021

Oh no! Will Liahona Olayan allow her brother’s elimination to sabotage her and Laila Mach’s #AmericanIdol Duets performance?

Posted by American Idol on Monday, March 22, 2021

Olayan was visibly emotional during her duet Monday night, and in Katy Perry’s eyes, didn’t seem invested in the performance.

After the judges chatted about Olayan and the duet — “She’s sabotaging herself. Her eyes are sealed shut from crying ‘cause her brother’s not here,” Perry whispered to Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie — Perry gave Olayan a stern talking-to.

“Liahona, do you want to be here?” Perry asked. “There’s other people behind me that want it more, that are gonna fight tooth and nail to get it. And you’re wasting everybody’s time. We said to you early on in this competition that you could be top 10, and you know who’s sabotaging it? You. You were being defeated the whole time, and you’re putting (Laila Mach’s) dreams on the line, and that’s really selfish. You took this whole ship down.”

And then, after the “Idol” judges sent Mach through to the next round, it was time to decide Olayan’s fate.

“Liahona,” Perry paused. “Don’t ever do that again. You’re going through.”

Olayan’s eyes widened in disbelief. She gave the judges a “thank you” and walked off the stage.

Liahona Olayan, left, stands with Laila Mach during Monday night’s episode of Hollywood Week on “American Idol.” Both singers ended up making it through to the next round.
ABC

“When Katy Perry said it looked like I don’t want to be here that made me sad because I actually do want to be here,” Olayan said in a clip that aired after the performance. “I want to do it for my family, I want to do it for my brother.”

After the episode aired, Olayan shared on social media that she learned a lot from this round of “Idol” and was grateful for a “second chance.”

Katy Perry’s words really helped me to get out of my head,” she wrote. “They gave me a second chance and for that, I’m so grateful. So thankful for such a great partner too! Laila Mach did so amazing! Thanks for all your belief in me everyone and I’m going to keep pushing forward!”

What about the other Utahns?

Olayan is one of three Utah-based singers to move on to the next round of the “American Idol” competition.

Lizzy O’Very, who lives by Snow College in Ephraim, Utah, got a standing ovation from all three “Idol” judges for her duet of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” with Philip Murphy. Both singers advanced to the next round.

Lizzy O'Very & Murphy Duets Round American Idol 2021

Blind Boy Music follows in Lizzy O'Very Music’s (bare) footsteps when it comes to their #AmericanIdol Duets performance!

Posted by American Idol on Monday, March 22, 2021

Wyatt Pike, a 20-year-old singer from Park City, Utah, got praise from Perry for his duet with contestant Cassandra Coleman, who was overcome by nerves.

“Wyatt, you made Cassandra feel really safe,” Perry said after the singers performed Alex Clare’s “Too Close.” “You weren’t going to run without her, and that is what a duet does, you run together.” Both Pike and Coleman went through.

Wyatt Pike & Cassandra Coleman Duets Round American Idol 2021

Wyatt Pike and Cassandra Coleman show us how to “play it safe” on #AmericanIdol the RIGHT way!

Posted by American Idol on Monday, March 22, 2021

“American Idol” didn’t show any Hollywood Week performances from Springville native Abby LeBaron. But on Monday night, the 19-year-old singer posted on social media that it was the end of her time on “Idol.”

“Although this was the end of my American Idol journey, it’s not the end of my musical journey!” LeBaron wrote. “I learned how much fun I could have performing and heaven forbid, being a bit of a show-off sometimes.”

What’s next?

  • “Idol” is now airing on both Sundays and Mondays, with the next round — called the Showstopper — airing March 28 and 29.
  • On Tuesday, an “American Idol” representative told the Deseret News that Pike will appear in the episode on March 28 while Olayan and O’Very will both appear in the episode on March 29.
  • “Idol” will then air all-star duets and solos on April 4 and 5, followed by the top 16 performances on April 11, according to Good Housekeeping.
  • From there, “Idol” hasn’t revealed the specifics of each episode. But according to the 2021 schedule, the season finale will be on May 23.