Mike Parker returned to the American Idol stage on Monday evening and earned praise from the judges with his memorable Top 11 performance.
With the evening dubbed “Judge’s Song Contest,” Parker was assigned to pick from one of the following songs: Morgan Wallen’s “Chasin’ You,” Diane Warren featuring Diane Warwick’s “Time Like This” and John Michael Montgomery’s “I Swear.”
Parker chose to sing Wallen’s fan-favorite tune, “Chasin’ You.”
“I saw a song that I was familiar with and that’s what grabbed me,” Parker shared of his song choice.
Ahead of his performance, while chatting with Idol’s associate musical director, Justin Avery, and Idol’s vocal coach, India Carney, Parker further explained his decision to cover Wallen’s “Chasin’ You.”
“I can relate to this song, I do, I do, just talking about a country boy doing country things, you know, railroad tracks and jumping in rivers. I think, I can really put my spin on ‘Chasin’ You,’” Parker said.
The former carpenter went on to discuss his position as a black country artist and shared his hopes to contribute to the ongoing conversation about racism in country music.
“Luke, he addressed racism in country music, which I appreciate, he said it’s going to take time and I want to be that person that brings two communities together, multiple communities together, and it is going to take time, but I’m here to speed that process up,” Parker promised.
Joined by a full band and impressive production, Parker put his unique spin on the chart-topping hit.
Following his performance, host Ryan Seacrest challenged him to guess which Idol judge picked the song for him to perform.
“I do think my man Luke picked it,” Parker guessed, before Bryan shouted “it’s true baby!”
On top of delivering an exceptional performance, Parker also got the surprise of a lifetime from Bryan when he gifted him with the jacket he wore the previous evening.
“I love you man,” Parker gushed.
Ultimately, his performance earned a standing ovation and praise from all three of the Idol judges.
“You did a great job, what I loved is that he did his own thing with it,” Bryan complimented. “Especially, it was like, your soulful version of certainly a Morgan Wallen song and that was what I was thinking, just being you in that moment with the song. Especially, your choices at the end! When you were rehearsing, you didn’t necessarily hit that note good, the falsetto moment, but you nailed it just then. So, great job!”
“First of all, let me just tell you, I loved the most important part of it, you made it your song. Number two, for the first time, I think you were crooning my man, I mean you were settled in on that and I love the vibe,” Richie gushed. ”You gave us show business, you gave us that attitude on the stage and that’s what’s so important to sell this career.”
“I’m just repeating what they said, listen, for me, you parked that car so nice, like just perfectly at the end. All I want to see.. I miss your cowboy hat,” Perry said. “The end was so soulful and it’s just such a wonderful hybrid of like country and soul and it’s your own stamp.”
With a record-breaking 19 million votes cast for the Top 10, Parker ultimately advanced to the next round.
American Idol airs every Sunday and Monday at 8/7c on ABC.