Zoanette Johnson blew away the “American Idol” judges on Wednesday with a spirited performance of “The Circle of Life” from The Lion King.
The unusual song choice was met with much enthusiasm from the panel, with Keith Urban, Nicki Minaj and Randy Jackson giving a standing ovation.
“Forget the King of the Jungle. Kudos to the Queen of the Jungle right there!” exclaimed Urban.
Minaj, one of Johnson’s biggest champions, told the contestant that she “served it” and made her “so emotional.”
“When I think of you coming from Liberia and all those siblings and the fact that they’re gonna get to see you on this show, I’m so proud of you,” said the rapper as Johnson began to cry.
Alluding to Johnson being an atypical “Idol” hopeful due to her over-the-top performances, Minaj added, ”I don’t care what people are gonna say. You’re the person we’re gonna remember after tonight. You’re unforgettable. You’re a superstar.”
And Jackson acknowledged that viewers at home are probably going, “What are those judges thinking?”
“Zoanette showed [viewers] tonight, that is the reason you’re here,” said the judge. ”That spirit that you have is what it’s really about… It’s infectious. We’re all up here feeling something.”
Mariah Carey agreed, saying, “It’s almost like your spirit is too big to be contained and that’s what you wanted to give to everybody tonight.”