Dakota Hayden, a fan-favorite contestant from American Idol from Season 20 is returning for Season 21 and he earned a Golden Ticket to Hollywood.
Hayden’s latest audition did not air but the singer/songwriter confirmed that he auditioned once again and earned the coveted Golden Ticket.
“Many have asked, and “YES” I went back to @AmericanIdol, and I got a Golden Ticket! Unfortunately, my audition wasn’t shown this year, but Hollywood Week starts this week on Sunday AND Monday on @ABCNetwork,” he wrote on Twitter alongside several photos from his audition. “Stay tuned as the competition heats up! Thanks for all the support!”
His Latest Audition Did Not Air
Dakota Hayden is from the small town of Fordsville, Kentucky (population 500). He was born and raised in the country on a 36-acre farm, where he and his family raise cattle, deer, turkey and more. The aspiring singer and his family often hunt and fish on their farm as well.
At the age of 17, he auditioned for American Idol with a cover of Luke Combs’ “When It Rains It Pours.” Idol judges Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan and Katy Perry praised his “pure country” vocals and dubbed him “top 10 material.”
“When you saw us up here smiling the whole time, it was not because we were laughing at you, we were thinking to ourselves, ‘we found somebody here,’” Richie shared. “First of all, you’re pure country. Believable as heck, It’s believable and I love that your pureness.”
Top 10 Material
Richie went on to say, “You’re an awe shucks kind of guy, and it translates and even though you’re not Luke’s [Bryan] son, I’d like to kind of that’s what I’m thinking right now. Your attitude and personality kind of reminds me of my man down there.”
Perry then gushed over his authenticity. “You are country from your hat to your boots. I think that you are raw and young,” Perry said. “Honestly, I think you’re top 10 material.”
The “Country On” singer also admitted he thought Hayden is worthy of the Top 10.
“I think you’re in the right place, thank you for driving your butt down from Fordsville, Kentucky. Call your mama, your daddy, your grandma, your auntie, your uncle, call your church, call your preacher, because you are exactly what we want to find,” Bryan added. “And Katy is right. I think you’re going to really snip the Top 10.”
After a successful audition, he moved on to Hollywood week and survived the Genre Challenge alongside Taylor Fagins, Lady K, Betty Maxwell, Elli Rowe, Sam Moss, Haley Slaton and Allegra Miles. Several episodes later, Hayden delivered a cover of Parker McCollum’s “Pretty Heart,” which marked his final solo performance on the show.
The judges couldn’t decide if they should send Dakota Hayden or Dan Marshall through to the Top 24, so they challenged the two contestants to a sing-off during their final judgement. Hayden opted to cover Kane Brown’s “Heaven,” while Marshall took on Chris Stapleton’s “What Are You Listening To?” After their sing-off, the Idol judges revealed their fate.
Ultimately, Marshall advanced to the Top 24, while Hayden was sent home from the competition.
“I may not have made it to the Top 24 but I’ve grown in ways I never thought possible! You literally haven’t heard 👂 the last of me yet! 🎶” Hayden shared after his fate was revealed.
Luke Bryan Is One Of His Biggest Influences
Dakota Hayden credits Idol judge Luke Bryan as one of his biggest inspirations and admitted that getting to meet Bryan was a pivotal moment of his career.
“I’ve been listening to him for as long as I can remember. I’ve always looked up to him and hear him on the radio and his singing intertwines with my life and being able to sing and perform and meet him is life-changing,” Hayden said.
Since departing from Idol in 2022, Hayden has graduated from high school and released original music.
The standout Idol contestant also keeps his followers up-to-date on social media, where he often shares covers of popular country tunes. See some of his covers below.