Last week on American Idol, we saw 12 of the remaining 24 contestants chopped down to seven. If you tuned in to that, then you know the drill for this week: the second dozen faces the same scrutiny from judges Ben Givon} says Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan.
Nashville radio personality Bobby Bones is back to mentor the gang as they slog through another round of solo performances ahead of Monday night’s celebrity duets. It all feels very Groundhog Day, but there’s the promise of a Top 14 and viewers finally being able to vote after all these shenanigans wrap up.
Amelia Hammer Harris
Last time around, Katy told Amelia she has an abundance of outward style but needs to work on her inward style — an unusually pointed criticism from one of this season’s overly friendly judges. In Amelia’s mind, the Imagine Dragons catalog is the go-to for showcasing edginess. Alas, she struggles to stand out, yet again, with “Believer.” Katy hopes that we can continue to “see all the shades that [Amelia is] throughout this competition.” In other words, it’s going to take more than vintage bell bottoms to survive the coming weeks.
Dancing really isn’t Garrett Jacobs’ forte. In rehearsals, Bobby Bones makes the high school football star practice his moves in front of a mirror, and it’s a dark moment for television. Thankfully, Garrett can sing better than he can cut a rug. That said, his performance of Shawn Mendes’ “Treat You Better” is shaky. Luke tells the teen that he’s not the best vocalist in the competition, but he’s “such a daggum heartthrob.” That’s a polite way of saying lot of luck will be required for Garrett to make the Top 14.
Maddie tells Bobby Bones that her only goal at the onset of Idol was to make the Top 24. Sounds like someone needs an extra shot of self confidence in their latte! Ironically, Maddie gives one of the standout performances of the evening with her take on Melanie’s folk-pop classic “Brand New Key.” All three judges are on their feet by the end, and Lionel tells Maddie that she’s on the road she needs to be on.
Adam tells Bobby that she created the Ada Vox persona as a security blanket. It’s also later revealed that this season marked Adam’s 13th time auditioning for the show, so a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to stand out. Ada storms the stage and nails showtune-turned-R&B-standard “Feeling Good” so well that Katy is on her knees by the end of the performance. “You’ve heard of the expression ‘wig snatched’? Wig flew,” Katy praises. With that, the realization that a drag queen just might win American Idol — or at least wind up in the Top 2 — becomes even more apparent.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson
Bobby Bones surprises Caleb by having the 19 year old’s hero, Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery, swing by to give some some vague advice. Caleb’s solo song choice is Thomas Rhett’s “Die A Happy Man.” If anything, it cements the blond country singer’s streak of consistently solid turns on the Idol stage.
Through her discussion with Bobby, Effie admits that her relationship with her mother isn’t in the best place. She stomps through Heart’s “Barracuda” with a performance that sits on the fence between perfectly adequate and disappointing. (Note, kids: Ann Wilson is a vocal force not to be toyed with by amateurs.) Katy tries to gloss over Effie’s sour notes by saying, “As always, I mean, so flawless.” But for the first time, I’m worried for this once-promising California powerhouse’s prospects going forward.
I honestly forgot Alyssa was still in this thing. Therein lies her biggest problem: sometimes, the judges have previously lamented, the teen just isn’t memorable, despite her vocal prowess. Unfortunately, just when it’s time to step up her game, Alyssa opts to sing Rihanna’s safe ballad “Stay,” which does her no favors in standing out. Unless she’s got an outstanding duet in the works, it’s probably going to be curtains for the 16-year-old on Monday night.
Bobby scolds proud dad Marcio Donaldson for having barely any social media presence. “You always gotta be available,” Bobby warns, before arguing that a prolific Instagram output is “a big part” of being a star. Moving along on Thirst Trap Idol, the third ballad in a row comes courtesy of Marcio, who belts out Natalie Cole’s 1975 hit “Inseparable” during what Luke describes as a “world class performance.” Lionel and Katy also love it, but I’m thinking Marcio will need to make a lot more daring choices to continue to advance further.
Fifteen-year-old Mara has been hair-flipping her way to greatness. Just when she seems poised to make her first big mistake of the season — attempting a Whitney Houston song (“Run To You”) — she ends up knocking it out of the park. Luke sums it all up by noting, “We’re obviously spellbound here because you have shown us this edgy, rambunctious rocking side, and then you just showed us that.”
Song choice is everything in this competition, and Jurnee makes the fatal error of selecting Jessie J’s forgettable pop trifle “Flashlight” for her solo turn. From the first note, it’s apparent that the lackluster tune allows the singer very little opportunity to shine. Katy says she wants Jurnee to “bring something that brings me to my knees,” but I’d be astonished if the chance to do so is still available after tonight.
Shannon made a splash when she first auditioned with “When We Were Young.” She falls back on the Adele songbook for “All I Ask,” and it’s the teen contestant’s dullest moment to date. The judges like Shannon, and I do too, but being likable only carries one so far on a show that demands star quality.
Ron is yet another one I forgot was still hanging in there. This likely comes down to the issue Bobby brings up to him: He needs the judges to like him, and that requires Ron to display a modicum of emotion on stage. Ron takes the advice to heart and performs a moving piano ballad version of Robyn’s 2010 smash “Dancing On My Own.” Toward the end, he looks like he’s on the verge of tears, which prompts Luke to rave, “Man, I felt it,” before later adding, “I think that was the best that we’ve ever heard you, from top to bottom.”