There's a new frontrunner on American Idol. It's solo week on the reality singing competition and Thaddeus Johnson took a major risk by singing Katy Perry's hit "Rise" in front of the pop star. However, it definitely paid off.
The 25-year-old from Oklahoma wowed Katy, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie with his rendition of the ballad, receiving a standing ovation from the trio of judges. "I know a lot of people are like, 'Why would you do that?' but when you sing a song in front of an artist you got to make them think he's literally embodying why I wrote this song," Thaddeus said before taking the stage. "I want Katy to feel that way today. I want her to be like, 'I did that song so Thaddeus could sing it today. That is my goal and I really feel like it's achievable."
Well, Katy was definitely impressed with the cover — telling the aspiring artist, "That is how you do my song. You do my song better than I do my own song. That was amazing." So now that he has officially wowed the judges (and America), what else is there to know about Thaddeus?
He originally auditioned for American Idol in 2010.
He was only 17 years old when he made his first appearance on AI, however, he did not make it to the live shows. Following his departure, he struggled with depression and blamed his weight for the failure. "I was about 320 pounds, and at my heaviest, I got to 390," he said. "Having the excess weight was a detriment to my singing… the shortness of breath, not being able to actually consistently hold a note, I just really couldn't be the best singer I that I could be." So he decided to make a huge lifestyle change.
He's dropped over 100 pounds and counting!
Fans might not have recognized Thaddeus from his first audition, thanks to his impressive weight loss. He explained how he dropped the pounds to the judges on the show. "I changed my eating habits," he said. "I started singing a lot more and as I sang, I started working out. And then I saw the weight loss as well. I've lost 162 pounds and I'm still going."
His mom is his No. 1 fan.
Thaddeus has been killing the competition since winning a golden ticket to Hollywood eight years ago and his mom Audria has been with him every step of the way. "Thaddeus, I'm so proud of you," she told her son during the audition process. "Even when you thought about giving up, you didn't give up. We gonna make it this time around."
Thaddeus loves RuPaul's Drag Race
In a recent video on Instagram, Thaddeus sang along to RuPaul's hit song "Kitty Girl" and hinted he was open at a collaboration with the drag icon. "When you driving and the jam comes on!! @rupaulofficial hit me up for the remix. I’m sooo down," he captioned the fun video. In the meantime, he needs to keep singing for his legacy on the ABC series.
American Idol airs Sunday and Monday nights at 8 p.m. EST on ABC.