Claudia Conway’s ‘American Idol’ performance was full of surprises


Claudia Conway is reframing her narrative — by using her own voice to navigate the rough waters of online infamy.

The troubled TikTok teen’s first official “American Idol” competition performance came with its own one-woman cheering squad: her mom, former Trump administration spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway.

Claudia appeared to have taken judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie’s previous advice to silence all the “negativity that surrounded her” so she could focus on her vocal potential — and what she wanted out of her suddenly high-profile existence.

The newly raven-haired 16-year-old told viewers on Sunday that she feels it’s the “most important thing in the world” to establish her own identity — through music. In the pre-taped intro package, when Kellyanne offered Claudia some “constructive criticism” about singing, the younger Conway quipped: “Stay in politics, I’ll do the music.”

But with her proud mom cheering her on, she then proceeded to belt out a passionate rendition of “River” by Bishop Briggs during her Genre Challenge performance for Hollywood Week.

The trio of judges approved — and moved Claudia on to the next round while her mom went slow-burn ham like any other crazy-proud parent in the audience.

Kellyanne Conway, 54, watches her daughter, Claudia Conway, perform "River" on Sunday's episode of "American Idol."

The New Jersey high school student’s revelatory performance came after reports that ABC was in “crisis mode” over the high-profile TikTok teen pulling focus from other contestants. Rumors swirled after her initial appearance was branded “exploitative” because it appeared to capitalize on her serious struggles with mom Kellyanne, 54, which included a police investigation after a nude photo of her daughter was posted on social media in January.

However, the notorious social-media star made it through to the second round after a rough audition in February in which she wore a skimpy bandana and warbled a wobbly rendition of Rihanna’s “Love on the Brain.” Judge Katy Perry promptly interrupted Conway’s first tryout, telling her to slip off her sparkly stilettos and try a different tune.

“You have to calm the storm that is around you,” Perry warned her at the time, “because if you sing like you want to read the social-media comments afterwards, you’re only ever gonna be a TikTok star.”

Claudia Conway performs on "American Idol"
Claudia Conway performs on “American Idol”
ABC via Getty Images

Claudia went on to redeem herself with a take on Adele’s “When We Were Young,” moving her proud papa — anti-Trump lawyer George Conway, 57 — to tears, as he listened just outside the audition room. “She loves music,” he said, choking up in February. “It makes me happy to see her here doing this.”

But is was Mama who showed up for daughter in Sunday’s episode, offering unsolicited singing tips (“that was a little flat”) that Claudia politely declined with a series of eye rolls before her mother smothered her in celebratory post-performance hugs.

Kellyanne — who reportedly has a multimillion dollar book deal in the works — even busted out a few bars from Alicia Keys’ 2012 anthem “Girl on Fire” to cheer on her little girl.

Claudia Conway, 16, strikes a pose during the intro package for her Hollywood Week: Genre Challenge on “American Idol.”


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