2 local contestants advance to the next round on abc's American Idol

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Season two finalist and CT resident Kimberley Locke gives us a whole recap.

Ron Boltongez captivated the judges with his story, especially Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan.

The new and improved American Idol focuses on talent and the judges seem to have a softer approach than previous years.

Though the singing competition helped ABC to win the night in viewers (8.2 million) and in the key 18-49 demographic (1.7 rating), Idol saw its lowest-rated season premiere ever, falling 23 percent from its prior season premiere (3.0 in January of 2016) on Fox.

The worst contestant of the episode, 26-year-old Moscow-native Sardor Milano, claims he was the 2015 victor of X Factor: Russia. Naturally, this gets "I Kissed A Girl" singer Katy to sneakily plant one on the flabbergasted singer. I can see her belting it out on the Idol stage, but her audition proved that she can showcase her big voice without letting it get out of control; that's key.

On the second season of the show, the confident 23-year-old shocked the judges with his rendition of "Always and Forever".

And unlike the old days of American Idol, they are really only focused on talented singers.

Michelle Sussett, 22, Miami, FL: Originally from Venezuela, the super-energetic singer performed a song in Spanish and then turned some music on and forced the judges to get up and dance with her. Katy Perry put her signature on Harper's "dream board", annotating that her "American Idol" audition had been realized with gold. When it was Layla's solo turn, she sang "Who's Loving You" (Jackson Five version). The judges don't think he's ready for Hollywood, but at least he got a first kiss out of the deal.

Alyssa Raghu is only 15, but Katy Perry has already proclaimed her as "Top 10" for the season. Katy also called her "dope". (What's up with the continuity, Idol?) We learn that he has a somewhat unusually high-pitched speaking voice, but a much deeper singing voice. "Unique" was the praise for Zach, along with "killed it" from Lionel Richie, along with a golden ticket for the teen.

Also off to Hollywood are Maddie Poppe, 19, who plucks her guitar while reinterpreting Kermit's Muppet Movie classic "Rainbow Connection", and Ron Bultongez, 21, who hails from Plano, Texas by way of the Congo in Africa.