N.J. teen sings Whitney on ‘American Idol,’ blows our freaking minds

N.J. teen sings Whitney on 'American Idol,' blows our freaking minds

What were you doing when you were 15?

Because Mara Justine Platt, a girl from Galloway and Top 24 semi-finalist on “American Idol” 2018, is blowing minds with her performances, and her rendition of a Whitney Houston classic Sunday night was her best yet.

Platt, who goes simply by Mara Justine on the rebooted show, sang “Run To You,” from 1992’s “The Bodyguard” soundtrack – a mammoth and challenging ballad – and was nearly flawless in her version, leaving “Idol” judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie dumbfounded as she sang.

It was a truncated version of the song – each contestant only gets about 90 seconds to wow everyone at this stage in the competition – but the judges still had plenty to say following her dazzling outing.

“We’re obviously spellbound here,” Bryan said. “Because you have shown us this edgy, rambunctious, rocking side and you just delivered us that. You just showed us another whole side … of what you can do.”

“This looks so good on you, sounds so good on you,” Perry added. “I know how versatile you are … you could sing addresses in a phone book and I would still listen,” as she complimented Mara on her taking of their advice, to tone down her performance – her upbeat take on Etta James’ “Something’s Got A Hold On Me” was a little over-the-top.

Mara will perform again, Monday night at 8 p.m. on ABC, as the second half of the Top 24 (12 singers) will try some celebrity duets – Mara is performing “Fight Song” with pop star Rachel Platten.

You went above and beyond…@marajustine1. It was so natural for the crowd to come to you. Never underestimate the power of standing still and being in that moment. #AmericanIdol
– Lionel Richie (@LionelRichie) April 16, 2018

At the end of Monday’s episode, those 12 singers will be reduced to seven, five being sent home by the judges. The remaining seven will join the top seven from last week to comprise the overall Top 14, who will sing for America’s vote next week.

So, does Mara have Top 14 in the bag? As a career “Idol” obsessor I’d say it’ll come down to how she performs Monday night – granted, she was terrific Sunday night but so were most of that group of 12, especially the female singers, and some unlucky ladies will ultimately get cut to keep the pool somewhat gender-balanced heading into the Top 14. Stay tuned!

Bobby Olivier may be reached at bolivier@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @BobbyOlivier and Facebook. Find NJ.com on Facebook.

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