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Katy Perry Compares Top 8 ‘American Idol’ Contestant Julia Gagnon to Kelly Clarkson

Katy Perry Compares Top 10 ‘American Idol’ Contestant Julia Gagnon to Kelly Clarkson
Katy Perry, Julia Gagnon, Kelly Clarkson. Monica Schipper/Getty Images; Disney/Eric McCandless; Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Audacy

Julia Gagnon’s powerhouse performance on American Idol had Katy Perry harkening back to the show’s original champion.

After a Top 10 performance of Bryan Adams’ “Here I Am,” Gagnon, 21, received a standing ovation from judges Perry, 39, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie.

“I love when you go super intimate because you can belt all day long,” Perry told Gagnon. “So give me that intimate stuff more so. And then also, I thought you were Kelly Clarkson at one point. It’s like, ‘Is Kelly onstage? I don’t know what’s happening.’”

Gagnon was taken aback by the compliment, displaying a stunned face and saying, “Wow, oh my gosh.”

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Of course, Clarkson, 42, was the first-ever American Idol winner way back in September 2002 and has gone on to win three Grammy Awards, while amassing four No. 1 albums and three No. 1 songs on the Billboard Hot 100.

After Gagnon’s performance, Bryan, 47, commended her for getting into the zone for the performance and showing off a new side of her personality.

Katy Perry Compares Top 10 ‘American Idol’ Contestant Julia Gagnon to Kelly Clarkson
Disney/Eric McCandless

“When you started over here, you shot me a look,” Bryan said. “I’m like, ‘She is a long way from the girl we knew from Maine.’ So, way to own your moment. Great job.”

Richie, 74, was similarly impressed and highlighted the different textures of Gagnon’s vocal abilities.

“Way to build it, way to build it,” he said. “Take us down low, take it all the way to the top. Show off that beautiful voice and the high level. That was fantastic.”

Prior to the performance, Gagnon worked with mentor Shania Twain — who had a special connection to Gagnon’s song choice.

“Bryan Adams is my fellow Canadian and a good friend of mine,” Twain, 58, told Gagnon. “So I can’t wait to share this with him. He’ll be really thrilled that you chose his song.”

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Gagnon explained that she decided to perform “Here I Am,” which Adams released in 2002, because she had “such an emotional connection to it.”

“The first time I heard this song, I was only four years old,” Gagnon, who was adopted, said in a video package. “I remember watching the movie it was from, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. It’s an animated movie about feeling like you don’t belong, being different than the people you’re surrounded by. I started sobbing when it came on.”

Gagnon earned a spot in American Idol’s Top 8 on Sunday and she’ll attempt to crack the Top 6 when Idol airs again on Monday, April 29 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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