American Idol favorite reveals a head-turning transformation

American Idol fans love a good come-up story and this season, it’s all about Alabama-based singer Doug Kiker and his new teeth. Kiker auditioned in 2019, and broke America’s hearts with his rendition of Rascal Flatts’ “Bless the Broken Road,” mostly just because he was a little “green,” as Taste of Country put it. He didn’t know what “range” or “staying in key” meant, but that hasn’t stopped the YouTube video of Kiker’s audition from garnering more than 9 million views and counting. 

Judges Luke Bryan and Lionel Ritchie helped him out, prompting fellow judge Katy Perry to applaud the father of two. “You just stay who you are and you’re gonna go so far,” said the expectant mama. “And you’re gonna take your daughter with you to all the highest heights.”

It wasn’t just Kiker’s vocal flex that had the judges — and viewers at home — rooting for him. He told the judges that he works in sanitation as a “garbage man” and was coming on the show in order to show his two kids — an infant and a 2-year old daughter — that any dream is possible. In fact, since auditioning for American Idol, he continues to turn heads with his continued transformation.

Doug Kiker's unwavering optimism gives Idol fans a boost

In an April 2020 Instagram video Doug Kiker posted from his hometown of Mobile, Ala., the former American Idol contestant gave his followers a positive boost during difficult times. “I am hearing all of y’all! I know times are tough, especially for the hard workers out there,” he captioned the clip. “I understand exactly what it is like right now. I’m gonna keep posting songs to hopefully help y’all through these times. I love you!” It’s just the dose of optimism people need these days.

It seems everyone is a fan of Garbage Man Doug these days. Radio personality Bobby Bones tweeted about Kiker’s video, saying: “I love these catch up moments with some of our favorites. Good to see Doug ‘the garbage man’ Kiker is doing well!” Another fan tweeted: “So proud of you #DougKiker you have the heart & potential to go as far as you desire… Your new smile just made your outside catch up to your beautiful inside.” Still another Kiker fan added, “#DougKiker is so inspirational. I wish that man all the best in life for him and his family.”

Doug Kiker's transformation will make you smile

Doug Kiker was eliminated during the Hollywood week episode of American Idol, but on April 12, 2020, the show returned live, broadcasting virtually in accordance with social distancing efforts to battle the coronavirus pandemic. The show updated viewers on some of the eliminated contestants, and audiences were thrilled to see Kiker’s transformation. 

Part of Kiker’s charm during his stint on American Idol was his distinct smile, which included some missing teeth. The singer initially seemed a little shy, but in a video message to fans during the American Idol follow-up segment, Kiker was sporting a full set of chompers and looking as happy and confident as ever. “Y’all notice anything different about me? I got new teeth, guys,” he said, per AOL. “The sky’s the limit, man. Y’all got me feeling that way. I finally believe in myself enough to actually sing in front of people. I’m about to go do somebody’s birthday party. I’m gonna video-chat them due to the COVID-19.”

Kiker has also been posting videos from work showing off his new smile and taking requests from fans for “corona songs” to sing and play on social media. 

American Idol gets 'creative' during coronavirus pandemic

Doug Kiker’s bright new smile and music videos aren’t the only good news these days for American Idol fans. The first half of the season was pre-taped and not affected by coronavirus shutdowns, but how the show would move forward without being able to film in front of a live audience was a looming question throughout late March and early April 2020. 

During the show’s virtual return on April 12, 2020, Judge Katy Perry was optimistic about the competition’s future and predicted fans will be pleased with the rest of the season, even if filming is a little more difficult after sending contestants home, per Billboard. Perry answered fans’ questions about American Idol from her parked car via Facebook Live: “Well, I think we’re gonna all have to be really creative — I know we’re gonna be very creative and you’ll just have to be tuning into that creativity that we are probably going to create from our individual homes.”

No matter what happens with American Idol this season, the show has already found its breakout star in Doug Kiker — and his charming new smile. 

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