March 9, 2022

Reflections on American Idol Season 20 Premiere:
The Powerful Impact of Music on Mood

One of the best examples of the variety of ways that music impacts mood is the 20th season premiere of American Idol, which aired on February 27, 2022. The singing auditions include inspiring stories from Hollywood hopefuls. Four of these auditions illustrate the dramatic ways music impacts mood.

Country music singer Hunter Wolkonowski, known as HunterGirl, is a music therapist who works with veterans. She explained that she transforms the stories of veterans into songs to help them cope with PTSD. As a music therapy songwriter with Freedom Sings USA, Hunter knows first-hand the power of music on mood.

After listening to the moving performance from Tyler Allen, Katy Perry was sobbing. He sang the emotional song that he used to sing to his nephew Noah, who was killed at age 1 in a car accident. Tyler sang, Whitney Houston’s “I Believe in You and Me.” He explained that singing this emotional song is helping him and others cope with their grief.

The heart-warming audition from Cole Hallman illustrates how singing together can bring joy and calmness. He was accompanied by his younger sister Katie. Cole said, “Katie has a chromosomal deletion which caused developmental and behavioral issues.” When the judges had Cole and Katie sign together, everyone could instantly see the joy Cole’s music brings to Katie. They sang “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” The judges even commented how better his singing was when he was relaxed singing with his sister. Katy Perry said, “Shed the nerves and sing like you’re always going to be singing with your sister.”

Taylor Fagins sang a powerful song he wrote three days after George Floyd’s murder. The song called “We Need More,” describes the tear-jerking experiences of little Black boys and girls and the urgent need for change. The lyrics of this verse show how much emotion was channeled into this song.

“Little Black boys don’t run outside, or play with water guns at night. They run away from red and white blue lights, and little Black boys don’t go to stores, or use their pockets anymore. Can someone tell them what they’re living for? They want more.”

What started as Taylor writing this song to personally cope with the murder of George Floyd is now a song for activism for Black Lives Matter. Although it took Taylor time to feel comfortable sharing his song with the world, it is unfortunately what the world still needs now. Taylor proved how music can inspire activism.  

To personally explore the impact of music on mood, sign up for a virtual therapeutic music workshop with the Queen Shirley Foundation. These remote mood-boosting workshops will be available for cultural music arts, vocal arts, and instrumental arts.