Katy Perry has finally “caught" the country. At least, that’s what she said following 16-year-old Ryleigh Madison’s American Idol audition.

The Whiteville, N.C., native, who confessed that she has never been to California, appeared on the popular television competition series on Sunday night (March 13) wearing a fuzzy sweater and a pair of elephant belle bottoms that covered both of her boots.

After telling judges that she was heavily influenced by Season 16 Idol alum Gabby Barrett, the high school sophomore belted out a cover of Barrett’s country smash “The Good Ones,” from her debut album, Goldmine.

Appearing visually nervous and swaying from side to side, Madison passionately delivered the lyrics of the romantic ballad, incorporating plenty of runs into her performance. She also showcased her technique by purposefully increasing and decreasing the volume of her vocals on particular sections of the song.

Afterward, all three judges gave their remarks.

“I’d love to see you just relax that song a little bit,” Luke Bryan advised. “It was a little quick for me. Listen, you’re 16. You’ve got a really great voice.”

“Your nerves just took over for a minute. If I can get you to slow down, and I’m not worried about it, I know you can. But the point is, I just want you to, for the future, just take that breath and if it’s anything you want to do, lay it on the backside,” Lionel Ritchie added. “There’s always the future because your nerves are going to make you go forward with adrenaline, but you’ve got a great voice.”

“You are super country, and you have a great voice,” Perry said, pointing out Madison’s “thick” country accent without realizing she was adding a bit of her own twang into her speaking voice. “Why am I starting to sound country?”

“Because you’re in Nashville,” Bryan responded.

“Oh no! I can’t turn country. I can’t do it. The country is creepin.’ I caught the country!” Perry said, gripping onto Richie and Bryan’s arms.

“What you got, Katy, is she going to Hollywood?” Bryan asked Perry of her decision to keep Madison in the competition.

Oh, I caught the country. Yes,” Perry revealed.

Both Bryan and Richie followed suit, offering Madison a Golden Ticket. The young contestant shed a few happy tears as she thanked the judges for their approval. Fans can keep up with Madison’s journey on American Idol Sunday’s on ABC.

See American Idol Contestants Then and Now

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