The 16-year-old boy with the crazy socks, who shocked American Idol judges in 2018 when his speaking voice sounded nothing like his Frank Sinatra-esque crooning, returned to TV Sunday night as the man with the crazy sweaters.
Wesley Chapel native Zach D’Onofrio sang the Beatles’ Golden Slumbers in his audition for judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan. They rewarded him with a ticket to Hollywood for the next round of the ABC reality competition series.
D’Onofrio, 19, had been there before. He made it to Idol’s Hollywood Week in 2018 before he was eliminated. In that year’s audition he presented the judges with socks as a gift and sang Sinatra’s The Way You Look Tonight.
He described himself then as a kid who used to get made fun of at school due to his slightly froggy speaking voice. “It’s a little bit higher than people would normally expect, and it made me shy,” he said at the time.
On Sunday night D’Onofrio brought along a surprise, his girlfriend Catie Turner, a top six Idol finalist from 2018. They sang Falling by Harry Styles together.
“Zachary you’re like a math equation you just leave permanently up on the chalkboard,” Perry said, explaining that she could not figure him out.
“I’m confusing, I know,” he responded.
All three judges voted for D’Onofrio, now a student at Florida Southern College, to move on in the competition.
“Thank you, judges, for being so nice to me again,” D’Onofrio said in a post audition interview. “Being back is so surreal. ... I just can’t wait to sing again in Hollywood, because I have a lot more planned.”
Sunday was the final week of auditions for the current season of American Idol, which airs Sundays at 8 p.m. Hollywood Week begins March 21.
Correction: D’Onofrio is a student at Florida Southern College. A previous version of this story stated the wrong school.