‘American Idol’ judge Luke Bryan says Park City-based singer and songwriter Wyatt Pike ‘feels like a star’
Pike’s duet with Ben Rector hits all the high notes
Sunday night’s episode of “American Idol” was big for Park City-based singer songwriter Wyatt Pike.
Pike’s cover of Tate McRae’s “Rubberband” and his duet with Ben Rector on Rector’s song “Brand New” had judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie singing Pike’s praises during the All-Star Duets and Solos night of the competition.
“He feels like a star, you know?” Bryan said to Perry after Pike wrapped up “Rubberband,” but it was the Parkite’s duet with Rector that got the three judges on their feet.
Host Ryan Seacrest noticed how relaxed he was.
“It looks like you’ve been living on this stage,” Seacrest said. “You’re so comfortable.”
Perry couldn’t hold back her praises, even as she commented on his casual sweatshirt and blue jeans.
“It looks like you rolled out of bed, (and) instead of getting slick and polished, you took all that time to practice and rehearse, and stepped into your stardom,” she said. “You’re an authentic superstar musician. You can go on tour today and fit in right now.”
The performance left Bryan in tears.
“Watching you perform was emotional for me,” he said. “You’re so right in your moment. I can’t tell you to do anything differently.”
Richie also commented on Pike’s poise.
“What you cannot teach in this business is stage presence,” he said. “You owned that moment we just saw. Congratulations. I’m so proud.”
Getting to that point that started with him meeting Rector, who is also a Nashville-based producer, was an exciting journey, Pike said in an interview with The Park Record a few days prior to the airing of Sunday’s episode.
“I think I won the competition for who has the best duet partner,” Pike said of Rector. “He writes good songs. He’s a great musician.”
Pike’s respect for Rector’s songs reached back when Pike performed “Old Friends” during his high school graduation ceremony.
So, Pike was taken aback when Rector recognized him even before their first official meeting in Beverly Hills a few weeks ago.
“(All the contestants) were at this hotel in Beverly Hills when Ben walked by me, and he instantly knew who I was,” Pike said. “(From there on), there was not a single moment of me thinking ‘Wow, this dude is famous,’ because he’s so down to earth. He felt like a friend right off the bat.”
Working on “Brand New” was a privilege for Pike.
“It’s very upbeat, exciting and in-your-face awesome,” he said. “It’s not reserved, but positive and uplifting.”
Working on a bouncy song like “Brand New” was a challenge for Pike, whose original songs lie in the introspective and acoustic realm.
“Singing a loud awesome song is a little out of my comfort zone, so that was exciting to work through that,” he said. “This is a teamwork thing like a football team. Just being on the same page of let’s both do our best to sound great together is the way to go.”
While working out the parts, Pike felt a bit overwhelmed knowing Rector decided to trust him with the song.
“That was a little nerve wracking as far as me wanting to do it justice and me wanting to sound good, but Ben was never about wanting it to sound like him,” Pike said. “That was exciting, because he completely dropped the reins and let me do what I wanted.”
Still, Pike knew he wanted to keep true to Rector’s vision for the song.
“I didn’t go out there to change everything, but it felt like it was mine,” he said. “He would always compliment my interpretation, and it all was a very collaborative experience.”
Pike is enjoying the whole “American Idol” experience as well.
“Making it through each round was amazing, but just getting an audition was great,” he said. “Then when I showed up in Hollywood week, and it started to set in, I watched this on TV when I was little. So when I got the news that I was in the top 24, it was overwhelming.”
Fans were able to cast overnight votes on Pike’s Sunday performance, and they will learn this Sunday, April 11, if he garnered enough votes to continue competing. But Pike is comfortable either way.
“I showed up to this wanting to give my absolute best, and I tried to keep expectations out of it,” he said. “I’m making great friends and having a blast. It feels like I’ve won the lottery. Doors are beginning to open. At the end of the day, the friendships and making music with people on this show are the stuff that will stick with me. So, living this awesome life right now is special.”
When: 7 p.m. on Sunday, April 11
Where: ABC TV
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Fans of “Sudan and Me,” a musical written, produced and performed in Park City, can now purchase an album of the production’s songs.