17-Year-Old Tyson Venegas Earns Platinum Ticket With Incredible Billy Joel Cover On ‘American Idol’

All three American Idol coaches gave Venegas a standing ovation after his impressive Billy Joel cover.


Melinda Lorge


Posted on February 20, 2023

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Tyson Venegas; Photo Courtesy of American Idol, ABC

Artists far and wide flocked to Las Vegas, Nevada, to test their singing talents for a shot at becoming the next American Idol. And on Sunday (Feb. 19) evening, viewers across the country got to see which crop of potential stars scored a Golden Ticket to Hollywood. 

One artist, however, received the highly coveted Platinum Ticket – an exclusive honor introduced last season to give the best of the best the opportunity to skip out on Hollywood week and instead prepare for the challenges to come.

Tyson Venegas; Photo Courtesy of American Idol, ABC
Tyson Venegas; Photo Courtesy of American Idol, ABC

17-year-old Tyson Venegas from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, was the only hopeful during the two-hour telecast who nabbed the desired Platinum Ticket after impressing judges with his version of Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind.”

Venegas, who, ahead of his audition, revealed he had a speech delay as a child, delivered his take of the hit song on a white grand piano. He took his time showcasing diction on each lyric while displaying raw emotion. His falsetto pleased judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie. But his strategic and smooth key changes is what had them all agreeing that Venegas deserved the Platinum Ticket. 

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Tyson Venegas Is the First Platinum Ticket Recipient Of Season 21

Afterward, all three coaches gave Venegas a standing ovation, with Richie sharing his comments first. 

“That was amazing,” Richie said before requesting that Venegas get his mom to have her join the conversation to see how her son fared in the audition room. “Where is your mom? Is she outside that door? Bring your mom in.”

Once Venegas’ mom was in front of the judges, Richie said, “Now, mom. I’ve got to verify something. Is this your son?”

“Yes,” she proudly replied. 

“Now, he’s claiming to be 17-years-old,” Richie continued. “But he’s performing like a 45-year-old. Give me some validation here. Who is this guy?” 

“I mean. One of his very first concerts was Lionel Richie,” Venegas’ mother informed. “He was inspired by you, and that’s where he learned how to sing from the heart.” 

Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan; Photo Courtesy of American Idol, ABC
Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan; Photo Courtesy of American Idol, ABC

Sensing the full circle moment, Richie replied, “So we flipped the switch now. I inspired him back then. He just inspired us today. Let me tell you . That performance was spot on professional.” 

“You sang notes and runs that I haven’t felt in my body in a long time,” Perry chimed in. “I felt so connected. I felt alive.”

Venegas Is Going To Hollywood

Bryan went on to tell Venegas that “You are exactly what we look for, and what we pray for” before all three celebrities unanimously voted Venegas into Hollywood. 

“There’s the golden ticket, and then there’s the platinum ticket,” Richie said. “The platinum ticket means you can actually coast through one whole day of Hollywood week.”

After telling Venegas to pick up his Platinum Ticket, judges revealed he was the only contestant, so far, who has earned the ticket in the Season 21 auditions.

The Season 21 premiere of American Idol featured judges scouting out talent in New Orleans, Vegas, and Nashville. American Idol airs on Sundays at 8/7c on ABC. The show will also stream on HULU.

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