On Season 16 of American Idol, a bespectacled singer named Thaddeus Johnson from Lawton, Oklahoma auditions. He gives a powerful performance and tells a moving personal story. It’s so moving that judge Lionel Richie gives him a big hug on stage. This isn’t Thaddeus’ first time on the show. He competed in Season 9 in 2010 when Ellen DeGeneres was a judge with Simon Cowell and Randy Johnson. Although Jackson was impressed and said Thaddeus was “one of the best 16-year-olds I’ve ever heard”, he didn’t make it Top 24. (Folk rock singer Lee DeWyze won the American Idol title that year.)
During the American Idol Season 9 “Group Week” challenge, Thaddeus and four female singers competed against another foursome, one of which was Todrick Hall. Hall accused Thaddeus and his team of stealing their a cappella idea. (Sour grapes?) See video below. Hall was eliminated in the Top 16. After Idol, Hall went on to become a star on YouTube and Broadway (Kinky Boots, Chicago). Johnson is back on stage for another shot at the title, and this time he looks healthier, more mature, more experienced and he brings it all to his performance. American Idol airs Sundays and Mondays at 8pm on ABC.