There wasn’t a dry eye in the audition room when Tristan McIntosh’s American Idol audition, and surprise military homecoming, aired on Fox last night.
As auditions for the farewell season of American Idol hit San Francisco and Little Rock on January 7, the long-running talent show aired one of the most emotional auditions to date, which left judges Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban in tears.
Ahead of Tristan McIntosh’s performance for the judges, the 15-year-old Nashville, Tennessee native retold the emotional story of how her mother was missing her American Idol audition due to her position serving in the U.S. military.
“It’s just a really weird feeling that she’s not here for something of this magnitude, something as big as this,” Tristan said ahead of her performance for American Idol judges, Lopez, Urban and Harry Connick Jr., where she launched into a stunning cover of the Mickey Guyton track, “Why Baby Why.”
Jennifer brought back her infamous American Idol catchphrase following McIntosh’s raw performance, commenting that the musical moment gave her “goosies” and adding that she saw something “very, very special” in the Nashville teenager.
But, it wasn’t just her powerful voice that made this one of the most emotional auditions in American Idol‘s fifteen season history.
Whilst American Idol Season 4 winner Carrie Underwood’s platinum hit “So Small” played in the background, judge Harry Connick Jr. then surprised the auditionee with a very sweet message from her military mom, who was on duty in the Middle East.
“Tristan, somebody in your family gave me this,” Harry told Tristan, before reading aloud an email that read in part, “You’ve always called me your big hero – but today you’re my big hero because you are doing something that you’ve dreamed about since you were 10 years old. Do your best today and, most importantly, have fun.”
In a shocking twist, Connick Jr. then told the teenager, “Tristan, she wouldn’t miss it.” Then, teenager’s mom surprised her daughter by appearing from behind signs plastered with the images of former American Idol contestants Carrie Underwood and Adam Lambert for a very special military homecoming.
While Lopez and Urban both wiped away tears after watching the emotional moment, Tristan’s mom asked, “Do you think I would miss this for the world?… Do you really think I would miss this?”
The emotional American Idol moment caused quite a stir online, with a number of fans and former American Idols taking to social media to praise the highly-emotional audition.
Are u serious @AmericanIdol w/ the military mom surprising her daughter.... Ugh I can't breathe I'm crying so hard! & the girl is talented!!— Kelly Clarkson (@kelly_clarkson) January 8, 2016
Season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson tweeted her shock after the audition aired. Season 8 winner Kris Allen wrote, “It’s been fun being a part of this farewell season of @AmericanIdol And anyone that said they didn’t cry at the end of this episode…GETOUT.”
While American Idol‘s past winners appear to be loving the latest and final season of the talent show, there’s one particular runner-up who’s not feeling the American Idol love.
Season 2 runner-up Clay Aiken took to Twitter on January 6 to completely slam the show and blast Lopez, Connick Jr. and Urban as being “boring” and naming them as the reason for American Idol‘s cancellation.
“Oh good Lord… those boring a** responses from the judges!? Where is Simon when you need him!? That guy need a hook to pull him off stage,” Aiken wrote on Twitter. He followed it up with, “It’s VERY clear now that @SimonCowell was the reason @AmericanIdol was a hit. I’ve watched root canals more entertaining than these judges [sic].”
Watch Tristan McIntosh’s American Idol audition and emotional military homecoming below.
[Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images]