Guys. Girls. Literally everyone. We’re in American Idol top 3 territory.
I’m talking about the land of Haley Reinharts, Melinda Doolittles, and Danny Gokeys. Also the land of Nikki McKibbins, so let’s not get crazy or anything, but top 3 is nothing to dismiss. Before we can crown a top 3, or even a fourth place, we have to go home with our Idols. Back to Texas and Mississippi and Louisiana, everywhere in between. Tonight is three rounds: a hometown choice, a Scott Borchetta choice, and a judges’ choice. To be honest, we have a lot to do tonight so we better get to it, starting all the way down in Louisiana.
MacKenzie Bourg, “Hallelujah”
No one was ready for TV Boyfriend MacKenzie Bourg’s visit to the hospital that saved his life as a kid. If you’re not crying, then you’re practically not human. Here’s the thing — MacKenzie pulling out “Hallelujah” tells me that MacKenzie is here to PLAY. It’s his sweet spot, or his “pocket,” if you will (I knew I’d get it!). There’s not much going on with the performance, but that’s what makes it perfect. A moon graphic, a few light beams, and a guitar are all that MacKenzie needs to set a decently high bar. His raspy voice plays well with the song, but who knows if that’s enough.
Dalton Rapattoni, “Calling You”
I never put together that Dalton and Kelly Clarkson are from the same world, and by the same world, I mean North Texas. WOW. Dalton’s journey has gotten shockingly emotional, and I’m riding this emotional tidal wave of tears to the end. Dalton goes after Blue October’s “Calling You,” and again, he stays close to his strengths, and it was wonderful. Keith nails it on the head when he comments that Dalton and MacKenzie stayed in their lanes tonight (to their own benefit!), and it really does show. Dalton is our resident rocker, and at this point in the competition, it’s really no time for risks.
Trent Harmon, “Tennessee Whiskey”
Opening up Trent’s package with Radical Face’s superbly emotional “Welcome Home” is just mean. I’m too attached to Trent and his random Periscoping and his weird hats. If you remember, Trent hasn’t allowed his parents to come see him because of superstition, so this trip home is a BIG DEAL. I audibly gasped when I heard that Trent chose “Tennessee Whiskey” — and for good reason because it was literally perfection. Trent is catering to his voice’s strengths, and hear me out… Dalton was good. MacKenzie was good. Trent, however? Trent is an American Idol. But if you’re superstitious like me, you screamed even louder when Idol brought out TRENT’S PARENTS. What an awful thing to do/really nice thing to do!
La’Porsha Renae, “Glory”
Hometown weeks are hitting a whole new level of heartfelt tonight as La’Porsha visits home and stops by a women’s shelter to speak. I don’t know what happened after that because I couldn’t stop crying. La’Porsha takes on “Glory,” and honestly, I can’t imagine a better choice for her. The song itself is a work of genius, but her approach is magnificent. It’s understated and powerful and everything in between. This is Trent and La’Porsha’s competition, but if we’re counting all the way down to the last vote, I think this round is La’Porsha’s. For once, I agree with Harry — there really is an exceptional level of elegance and grace in La’Porsha’s style. She has a lot to be proud of.
NEXT: The only person La’Porsha stays for is God!
After round one, we go into tonight’s elimination with all four finalists standing in front of us. First to safety is Trent Harmon, as it should be. And following him is… Dalton Rapattoni? I mean, I’m here for it, but like… La’Porsha? And that’s when MacKenzie literally starts saying, “I’LL DO IT FOR YOU.” Yikes, TV Boyfriend MacKenzie Bourg, let it be organic. But he’s not wrong. MacKenzie takes that No. 4 spot, leaving Dalton, La’Porsha, and Trent to fight it out for the top spot. But after the episode ends, I’ll sit in my dimly lit room, crying and listening to “Roses” on repeat because life is short and you should reach out and grab it while supplies last.
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Scott Borchetta Round
Little known fact: If you wear a crushed velvet blazer during the Scott Borchetta round, or really any jacket with absurd patterns, Scott Borchetta gives you a kiss on the cheek and any song that your heart desires. Unfortunately, no one did for fear of not getting votes.
Dalton Rapattoni, “Dancing in the Dark”
Hm. Well this is a curious song choice. But Dalton takes an ’80s song and goes in a different ’80s direction before going full punk. Jennifer Lopez nearly gave herself a concussion from all the seat dancing she did during it, and to be fair, it was a dance-worthy performance. Dalton taking “Dancing in the Dark” and amping it up to Green Day status is what he needed to do to make this moment memorable. His competitors are super crooners, so if Dalton can corner the upbeat market, he better run with it.
La’Porsha Renae, “Stay With Me”
In a surprising twist, La’Porsha was given something that wouldn’t have particularly been her first choice. She wasn’t a big fan of the whole message behind the song, but she openly admits that, giving the best quotable ever, “The only man I stay for is God!” GIRL, STOP. Despite the content of the song, La’Porsha completely rocked her vocal and the rock vibes behind it. She does this thing with her voice where she slows down her vibrato, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. Another prime performance that should easily carry her to the final two.
Trent Harmon, “Drink You Away”
LORD. Justin Timberlake has released “Drink You Away” to Trent Harmon, which is a gigantic honor if we’re being honest. If anyone is able to handle it, it’s clearly Trent. He gets gritty, hits the falsetto, and gets the audience clapping. All that’s left to do at the end is to just get up off your couch, shake your head, and clap for the boy. Trent Harmon came to play hard tonight, and play he did. The judges agree, and after round two, it would seem that it’s one round for La’Porsha and one round for Trent.
Keith Urban, “Wasted Time”
I’m not usually a proponent of leather vests, but you know what? Keith Urban can do whatever he wants. If you’re a country music fan, Keith Urban gives you enough picking and playing to remind you why country music, at its core, is just wonderful. If you don’t love country music, he can at least make you love it for a few minutes. He’s that good, y’all. I also need some direction on how a double guitar works — I mean, I’ve seen them before, but I don’t get the logistics.
NEXT: Hello, it’s me
Judges’ Choice Round
Dalton Rapattoni, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”
Dalton could’ve gone in two different directions with this: the upbeat Tears for Fears take or that super creepy rendition that Lorde did. I kind of wanted him to opt for the latter, but instead, he goes for a downplayed version of option one. As he powers through, it almost seems like he starts to lose pacing toward the end. Jennifer asks him if he changed the key, and he admits that he did, and then Jennifer pretty much says, “Oh. Yeah. Neat.” Yikes. I’m a little worried that maybe that wasn’t enough to push our guy through.
La’Porsha Renae, “Hello”
Rank: First (Tie)
THEY GAVE HER ADELE, Y’ALL. What an awful card to pull on final three night! Under most circumstances, I feel like this is the sign of total judge/production sabotage, but do you know what she did with it? She crushed it. With that being said, I’m not going to shout from the rooftops that she trumped Adele because “HELLO” (pun completely intended). But in the face of a giant song, La’Porsha did everything in her power to re-create it and make it her own, and I don’t think she has anything to be worried about for next week. And that opening note, by the way? Take me to church.
Trent Harmon, “Waiting Game”
Rank: First (Tie)
On the other side of the fence, Trent is getting a totally unknown song. If he doesn’t sing it well, then it could be his end. If he does, though, then it’s practically a pass to the finals. And as he rounds out the song, with all its nuanced moments and vulnerable falsetto, it’s clear that Trent is going through to next week. And honestly, in Trent’s performances over this season, but in the last few weeks in particular, he has come to life. I know that we’ve been drowning in white guys with guitars, but honestly, as long as Trent or La’Porsha takes the cake, then it was a season worth hanging out for.
And that’s it, y’all. Take a breath. Here we are, at the end of our Idol road, and I’m not just talking about the end of the episode or even the season. We’ve walked this walk for 15 years, and now we’re here, with Dalton, La’Porsha, and Trent. So to bring it back to the present, who’s it going to be? With TV Boyfriend MacKenzie Bourg out of the race, we’re left with two powerhouse vocalists and a punk rock kid that will give you a high five if you’re close enough to the stage. Tell me your thoughts! Did La’Porsha serve Adele justice? Did Trent make JT proud? And what about Dalton and Bruce? Hit the comments, or tweet me @justinkirkland4, and I’ll see you for FINALE WEEK.