‘American Idol’ Judges Praise Zachariah Smith’s Confident Top 20 Performance: “It’s Superstar Time”

“Zachariah you have not only grown, but you’ve grown to the point now where it’s superstar time,” Lionel Richie gushed.


Andrew Wendowski


Posted on April 23, 2023

Share on:

Zachariah Smith; Photo Courtesy of American Idol

Zachariah Smith scored the first spot in the Top 20 on Season 21 of American Idol and earned praise from the Idol judges with an epic cover of a Foreigner hit.

On Sunday evening (April 23), the 20-year-old burger flipper from The Magnolia State delivered an epic performance that Idol judges and fans won’t soon forget, but will it earn him a spot in the Top 12?

Ahead of Zachariah Smith’s performance, he explained that he is doing this for more than just his family, but his entire city after a tornado recently ravaged through his hometown of Amory, Mississippi. 

“Being in Hawaii was absolutely amazing, one of the best experiences I have ever had. However, when I came back we had something that was completely unexpected happen to the town,” Smith explained ahead of his performance. 

He went on to explain that “a lot of Amory is now gone” and when he returned home from Hawaii he was faced with “such a scary situation.” 

“People lost their homes, their businesses… Our family business, Bill’s Hamburgers, took a big hit,” Smith continued. ”It was very sad to see Bill’s and the way that it was. After the tornado it was really, really cool to see that bright spirit everybody was helping each other. It makes me very proud to see people help other people in need. I feel like not only am I doing American Idol for me and my family, but now this is for my entire city.”

Watch Zachariah Smith Perform Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is” On American Idol Below

Donning black ripped jeans, a red shirt emblazoned with rhinestones and a black leather jacket, Smith belted out the lyrics to Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is.” 

Zachariah Smith truly allowed his vocals to shine vibrantly throughout his impressive performance. He also flawlessly showcased his ability to command a room with a captivating performance of The Foreigner classic that had the entire audience and Idol judges swaying along.

“In my life, there’s been heartache and pain / I don’t know if I can face it again / Can’t stop now, I’ve traveled so far / To change this lonely life / I wanna know what love is / I want you to show me / I wanna feel what love is / I know you can show me,” Smith sang as his family watched from the audience. 

YouTube video

American Idol Swooned Over Zachariah’s Performance

Following his stunning performance, Idol Judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan gushed over his confidence and growth as an entertainer.

“What a great way to start off our new digs, come on!” Richie said. ”First off, let me just say this to you, Zachariah you have not only grown, but you’ve grown to the point now where it’s superstar time. Perfect song, perfect presentation, and from the crowd’s reaction you are on your way to your career.”

Katy Perry then dubbed Smith “top 10 material.”

“Zachariah, I think you know what love is now fully. I think you’re feeling it, you’re believing it and you’re using it,” Perry added. ”What you just went through in your hometown reminded you to live every single day to your fullest and I don’t think you have any regrets. I do think it’s a little hard to be first, so I want that spontaneous flow that you give us, but I think you’re top 10 material and I hope America sees that too.”

Luke Bryan went on to compliment Zachariah Smith’s ability to add his own signature sound to each song he covers on the show. 

“I mean, This is a lot to take in… There’s pyro, there are streamers, this room is huge. I’m like sensory overload here… What I love about all the songs you choose, you put your stamp on them. You add your own flair to them and that’s why America’s loving it.”

Zachariah Smith; Photo Courtesy of American Idol
Zachariah Smith; Photo Courtesy of American Idol

“I Dreamed Of This Since I Was A Little Boy”

After the judges complimented Smith’s performance, American Idol host returned to the stage to let American know how they can vote for Zachariah Smith.

“What did it mean to you to kick off tonight with that first performance?” Seacrest asked Smith, to which he replied, “You know what, It’s such an honor to start here at our new home with American Idol.”

Smith continued, “I dreamed of this since I was a little boy and that little boy would be so proud Ryan.”

Zachariah Smith auditioned for Idol with John Mellencamp’s hit, “Hurts So Good,” where America immediately fell in love with his voice and story. 

Throughout the competition he has also covered Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing,” Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now,” Little Richard’s “Lucille,” and more.

How To Vote For Zachariah Smith On American Idol?

Viewers can vote for Zachariah Smith by visiting AmericanIdol.com/Vote, via the American Idol app or by texting 6 to 21523. 

Voting remains open till 9 AM EST on Monday, April 24. 

American Idol airs every Sunday and Monday at 8/7c via ABC.

Share on:

Written by

More from Andrew Wendowski

See more posts from Andrew Wendowski