The coolest contestant of season 10’s “American Idol” has stepped out in the form of Paul McDonald.
The 25-year-old from Nashville, Tennessee, was voted through to the “Idol” top 24 on Wednesday’s (February 23) episode, and his laid-back, easygoing style makes him an early standout among the semi-finalists.
The scruffy-bearded McDonald, who auditioned for “Idol” in his hometown of Nashville, was first seen on Wednesday singing the Beatles’ “Blackbird” during the Las Vegas round with his duet partner Kendra Chantelle. McDonald’s smooth vocals — which have sort of a Jason Mraz-meets-Mike Posner quality — caused judge Steven Tyler to exclaim, “Yeah! I love his voice,” mid-song, while Jennifer Lopez turned to Tyler to show him the goose bumps on her arm. Lopez later praised McDonald’s “soft, beautiful tone,” saying it “cut right through” and made him stand out.
His voice wasn’t the only thing that made McDonald stand out. For his final audition, McDonald sported a white Nudie Suit, complete with embroidered roses and that looked like something out of Jeff Tweedy’s closet. Not only that, but he chose to forgo popular logic and sang an original song for his final shot in front of the judges instead of a cover. The guy couldn’t blend into the background if he tried.
“I’ve gotten this far based on, you know, just doin’ my thing, and if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be,” McDonald said in voiceover. It was meant to be: In his final sit-down with the judges, they praised his unique qualities and said while they’re not quite sure where he’ll land in the competition, it will be those same attributes that could potentially take him far. “We’re gonna bank on that and put you through,” Lopez told him.
McDonald took the news in stride; raising his arms in victory, he let out a hearty laugh before thanking the judges. And while he said he’s spent the last few weeks “relaxin,’ hangin’ out,” now, he admitted he’s got some work ahead of him. “I gotta learn some songs!” he said.
While he works on those new songs, his fanbase is already starting to grow. By the end of Wednesday’s episode, McDonald was a worldwide trending topic on Twitter, and he already had at least one former “Idol” contestant in his corner. “Paul McDonald is the man,” “Idol” season-eight finalist Matt Giraud tweeted. “Really impressed me.”
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