HunterGirl was a favorite from her first appearance on American Idol’s 20th anniversary season.
The country singer who worked with veterans by creating songs that helped them deal with their PTSD issues won a Platinum Ticket at the start and flew through to the finals.
However, HunterGirl fell a little short and ended up as the runner-up on the finale, losing out to Noah Thompson. Despite this, the future is bright for the singer.
Here is a look back at HunterGirl’s American Idol journey.
The Auditions Round
HunterGirl, real name Hunter Wolkonowski, came into the auditions with a great story. She is a musician who works with military personnel and writes songs based on their experience that she sings with them to help them work through the issues.
This story gave her a spot in people’s hearts, but then she sang Rascal Flatts’ Riot, and she earned the judge’s praise. Everyone said yes, but that was not the end for her.
Luke Bryan called her the best female country singing voice he had heard audition, and he called her and asked if she wanted to perform at his Nashville club that night. Of course, she did, and then the three judges showed up and gave her one of the three Platinum Tickets.
This meant that she wouldn’t have to perform in the Genre Challenge in Hollywood Week and could choose her own duet partner.
Hollywood Week – Genre Challenge/Duets
As a Platinum Ticket winner, HunterGirl did not have to perform in the Genre Challenge. It also meant that she could choose her duet partner.
HunterGirl chose Cole Ritter to sing with during that round. The duet was Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams. The judges loved both of them and sent them both through to the Showstopper Round.
The first song for a live audience was the choice of the singers. HunterGirl had not sung as much as the others, thanks to her Platinum Ticket, so this was a chance to impress the judges further and prepare the fans at home for the voting the next week.
Her song was Girl Goin’ Nowhere by Ashley McBryde. The three judges gave her a standing ovation, and Luke said she was magical. He felt she could win it all, and she moved on.
The Top 24 was the first time that the fans at home got to vote. The Top 24 split into two groups, with the first 12 singing on Sunday night and the second 12 on Monday night. HunterGirl was in Group 1.
She came out and sang the Rascal Flatts’ song Banjo. She made it her own and delivered a fun stage presence while singing. Katy said it was a great party song but said HunterGirl missed a few notes. Luke loved the song and said he was happy to see her without a guitar. Lionel said it was entertaining, and the fans agreed, voting HunterGirl on to the Top 20.
The Top 20 was a huge night for the American Idol contestants, a three-hour episode with the singers pulling out all the stops.
For HunterGirl, she talked a bit about what she does for a living – helping veterans in need – and she chose to sing an original that was based on this job. It was called Heartbreak Down and when she finished, Katy said she would put her money on HunterGirl to win it all. Lionel said she sounds like country radio.
Breakout Hits/Judge’s Song Contest
For the Breakout Hits, HunterGirl came out and sang Baby Girl by Sugarland and dedicated it to her mother. Katy said that people wanted to see her win, and Luke said she will be a competition for today’s young female country stars.
Up next was the Judge’s Song Contest, which was a fun competition. Each judge chose a song for the singers, and they chose the one they wanted to sing without knowing who chose it. The winning judge who had the most songs chosen got to save someone who the fans didn’t vote in.
HunterGirl chose to sing 9 to 5 by Dolly Parton rather than singing a Chicks song. It ended up being a great choice (chosen by Lionel Richie) and she brought the party once again. Katy saw a lot of sparkle and the judges said that HunterGirl was improving in her stage presence.
Disney Night was Top 10 week, and it was time for three people to go home. Derek Hough was the mentor, and he focused most on the stage presence and how they carried themselves in their performance.
HunterGirl chose to sing the Mandy Moore and Zachary Levi song I See the Light from Tangled. It was an impressive performance since she didn’t use her southern twang and played it straight. Katy called it a Cinderella moment, and Luke called her elegant.
HunterGirl had to pick out a song that was trending on TikTok and she decided she wanted to sing Tate McRae’s you broke me first. She came out and delivered a great rendition of the song, with Katy saying that she is an artist people dream of becoming.
The second song of the night was a dedication to her mother since it was the Mother’s Day episode. HunterGirl chose to sing Like My Mother Does by Lauren Alaina. When she finished, Katy said that HunterGirl still proves every day why she deserved the Platinum Ticket.
Carrie Underwood/Contestant’s Choice
HunterGirl came into the Top 5 and had two performances to put on for the fans. First, there was a Carrie Underwood song. Second, she got to choose her own second song as she fought for a spot in the finale.
For the Carrie song, HunterGirl sang Undo It, and she delivered a sassy performance that reminded fans of the multi-platinum American Idol alumni. Katy and Luke both called it HunterGirl’s best performance.
For the Contestant’s Choice song, HunterGirl sang the song Girl Crush by Little Big Town. Luke said she was in “star mode,” and Lionel said she was crystal clear. It helped HunterGirl move into the finale.
HunterGirl won the Platinum Ticket in the audition round, and she made it all the way to the finals, and she deserved every second of it. The first song that she sang in the finals was the Bruce Springsteen song Dancing in the Dark. Katy called it electric and that she was on fire.
After this, HunterGirl got to sing her original song Red Bird. This had Luke Bryan emotional when she finished, as they both know the story and legend of the Red Birds being there when you need help.
Finally, she got one more song that night. She decided to sing the song Riot again by Rascal Flatts. She sang this earlier in the competition and earned her the Platinum Ticket, and Katy Perry said that HunterGirl was a Woman now.
After an amazing run, it all came to an end here for HunterGirl as she finished American Idol Season 20 in second place.
American Idol is on hiatus. The singing competition series will return in 2023 to ABC.