American Idol preview: Duets challenge features 4 local contestants

Hollywood Week on American Idol continues Sunday and Monday night at 8/7c on ABC and stream next day on Hulu
HOLLYWOOD -- Hollywood week continues on American Idol this Sunday and Monday nights as the contests form dynamic duos and hit the stage for the duets challenge.

Platinum Ticket winners Huntergirl, Jay, and Kenedi return to the stage this week and get to CHOOSE their duet partner. The judges assign all of the other contestants.

Four local contestants compete this week, including Christian Guardino from Long Island. He's paired with Nicolina for his duet, which is an early release from American Idol. They perform "The Prayer."

(this video contains a spoiler!)


"I have to tell you when you can stand on a stage under pressure and we're mesmerized just watching how you play off each other, it has all the makings of something so special," Lionel Richie told them after the performance.

The contestants don't have a lot of time to prepare for the duet once they learn who is their partner.

Cole Hallman from Manasquan, New Jersey says even though they are competing, it's not a duel but a duet.

"I consider myself very lucky to be in this situation like they said the rolling the dice on me, so I think my mindset going into it was I'm going to do my best to support the other person and hopefully they support me too. That was my philosophy. So I wasn't competitive with my partner at all," he said.

Hallman is relatively new to the stage and after his genre round performance o Billy Joel's "Vienna," Luke Bryan said he needed to up his game.

"We're going to keep rolling the dice on you, but you will not be able to get through on dice rolls much longer," he said.



Danielle Clavell, a salsa dance instructor and actress from Queens, impressed the judges with her vocal range during the genre round but also said performing in Hollywood was a challenge.

"I remember how nervous I was. I was so nervous going on stage. Oh, my goodness," she said. "It's so weird because I performed in front of big crowds for like my theater shows. I don't know why. I guess it's because I've never done something like that before, but, man, it was so, so much fun."

Taylor Fagins, who performed a powerful original song during his audition, says the contestants who came together in Hollywood felt like family and that helped during the duet challenge.

"Katy Perry said in the Monday episode what is your strategy? Do you try to stand out between the duets or do you try and make both of you shine? And I at least for me, that's the way I saw it," Faggins said. "I was like, we're both going up there together. Let's do this thing. And I think there was an element of that across every duet."



Hallman said the Hollywood week experience was exhausting, but no matter how far this journey takes him, it's been rewarding.

"I can get out this weekend and I would still be grateful. I want to go as far as I can, like, don't get me wrong, but my mindset now is kind of just have fun with it and see how far I can get. Keep rolling the dice," he said.

All of these contestants say the Idol experience has helped them to grow as artists and in their belief in themselves.

"Once you're confident enough in that, then you can do anything you want. Literally, anything you want. Anything you strive for you can achieve. And that's what I've learned, Clavell said.

"Everybody has a voice, every single person in this world. Everybody can use their voice to do something that changes his world for the better," Fagins added. "The biggest thing is trusting in yourself that you can actually do that. And I saw that happen to not just myself, but to so many other contestants in the show. I saw them believe in themselves. And I saw them put their best foot forward and actually do something."

Watch the next American Idol on Sunday and Monday at 8 p.m. ET/PT | 7 p.m. CT on your local ABC station and the next day on Hulu.
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