So, here we are. The Idol Top 10, and because the world moves so quickly, in a few hours, that will only be the Top 7. Then the Top 2. Then it’s over. By midnight.
Just kidding. But this is an expedited season that will end with only seven contestants moving forward. This week is Disney week, though, which I believe is a contractural obligation of any ABC show. The crowd will be tackling Disney hits while Katy Perry dons a Snow White costume. I wonder how they conned Katy into doing that, then I googled her salary. It’s $25 million, and honestly, if you paid me that, I’d kill Snow White myself on live TV, so I get it. They’re being mentored by Idina Menzel, who Ryan Seacrest referred to as “a household name following Frozen,” which is spitting directly in the green face of Elphaba, but fine, whatever. Sure, Ryan.
Maddie Poppe, “Bare Necessities”
In her standard Sara Bareilles/Zooey Deschanel crossover approach, Maddie takes on “Bare Necessities” with a slight whispery yodel in her voice. I’ve been a big Maddie fan. Huge, even. So much so that I’d have to disclose the amount of money I’d give if this were a campaign. But after a few weeks of the same hopeful, nostalgic voice, I’m feeling a little bit like I do after listening to three songs from a She & Him album. Like, it was a lot of fun to start, but now, I just wonder how ironic the whole thing is, you know? Granted, Disney isn’t really the week that you can lay down an electronic dance record, but still. Even “Bear Necessities” feels a little dated. Maddie’s saving grace is how annoyed she looked as Snow Katy spoke in an affected Disney voice. I know that underneath this trendy, hipster songbook lies a very dark woman.
Jurnee, “How Far I’ll Go”
Jurnee, or as Katy called her “the best woman for the job,” is taking on Moana this week. She chooses “How Far I’ll Go” because she wants to let you know how far she thinks she’ll go. As hard as Idol is packing all their diversity cards into one contestant (lesbian of color married to a service member), I’m a little surprised they didn’t pivot and force the possible-lesbian-princess of Elsa on her with “Let It Go,” but she belts her way through the Moana track. She does fine with this song, even if it’s a bit over-done, but you have to love her for trying. You can kind of see that Jurnee was defeated after last week, so it feels a bit like a consolation prize to be trying this week.
Cade Foehner, “Kiss the Girl”
They’re forcing this man to sing “Kiss the Girl” this week. Granted, I love “Kiss the Girl.” I get drunk at house parties, take over someone’s Spotify, and play it on repeat. But pushing a rocker like Cade into taking it on? It just feels wrong. Don’t make me sing Kanye, and don’t make Cade sing Little Mermaid. His approach is commendable, but you can see on his face how incredibly uncomfortable he is with the arrangement. I’m going to be honest…I don’t know if I fully get Cade’s appeal. But America seems to really love him, and America gets what American wants. Oh, and it seems like Gabby and Cade have a thing going on. Again, don’t ask me about this.
VERDICT: Rock on, little friend
Ada Vox, “The Circle of Life”
I immediately had to lie down when I heard that Ada Vox was singing “The Circle of Life” because I’ve seen so much in this world. Ada, whose voice is out of this world, has the ability to be like three different people in one song. With “The Circle of Life” there’s room for her to be Simba, Nala, all seven of Voldemort’s horcruxes, two people I’ve matched with on Tinder, and a sandwich artist at Subway. What I’m saying is that this is a whopper of a song for a performer who loves whoppers more than the Burger King. But when Idina advises you, you listen. She told Ada to chill it the eff out, and you know what? It works. Ada keeps one solid voice throughout, and on the up and up, the performance lands pretty squarely. Toward the end there’s a few mislicks, but considering how much the makeup game has improved, it’s worth looking over.
VERDICT: Sashay away.
Michelle Sussett, “Remember Me”
Idol‘s thinly veiled attempt to leverage its minority contestants is honestly my favorite part of this season. Michelle is clearly a talent, but I would love to be a fly on the wall during the conversation where Michelle said, “I’d love to sing Beauty and the Beast,” and some producer is like, “I bet I know what you’d like to sing more! Coco.” And then the conversation is over. Michelle tackles “Remember Me,” and she does a perfectly fine job. She pivots back and forth between English and Spanish, and in a season that isn’t trying so hard to make a point, she would likely be a favorite.
VERDICT: Goodbye, sweet lady
Gabby Barrett, “Colors of the Wind”
“Colors of the Wind” is one of my absolute favorite songs. I’ve also been really hard on Gabby because all I see when I watch her is the lovechild of Hayden Panettiere and Miranda Lambert. It’s hard to imagine Gabby not making the Top 5, let alone the finale. With that being said, it feels a bit tricky with tonight’s “Colors of the Wind” performance because you can own the earth and still, it seems like if the earth isn’t country music, it doesn’t do you a lot of favors. Similar to Cade, the only thing Gabby is missing this week is the opportunity to sing a genre suited to her voice. Gabby is prime when she’s doing country.
VERDICT: Duh. Safe.
Michael J Woodard, “Beauty and the Beast”
Michael J Woodard is my sweet prince, and where Maddie Poppe is sticking to the vague unknowns (no matter how good) of the American songbook, Michael is deviating into just enough of the mainstream that audiences can relate. Michael is surprised by his grandma, and when he screams, I scream. He’s wearing a mirror jacket, and it’s honestly just too much for my heart. I’m all-in for Michael. I’m biased, and I can’t help myself. Somewhere in this world, Celine Dion is clutching every single one of her pearls in support because Michael completely dominated Disney night while maintaining everything good about his voice. Where Cade and Catie and Gabby may seem like your logical final three, Michael J Woodard isn’t going anywhere if his elaborate costuming has anything to say about it.
VERDICT: The sweet prince lives
Caleb Lee Hutchinson, “You’ve Got a Friend In Me”
Caleb is kind of the most basic kind of white guy, which makes him more lovable than I can say. Is Caleb the quintessential White Guy With Guitar? You bet your ass. But when he says he’s singing “You Got a Friend In Me” for his dog, and that he’s on Idol to pay off his mom’s house, then I just fold. This is arguably the easiest song of the night to sing, but it doesn’t matter. With his perfect hair and his big blue eyes and that bass voice, Caleb is going to sail through to next week.
VERDICT: As sure as a dog loves his dad, he’s safe
Catie Turner, “Once Upon a Dream”
So, Catie is such a weird little creature. This is made clear when she bulldozes Idina Menzel, but when she opens her mouth during “Once Upon a Dream,” it’s clear again just how incredibly, stupidly talented she is. While “You’ve Got a Friend In Me” is one of the least demanding songs of the night, “Once Upon a Dream” is by far one of the most complex choices of the night. The nuanced vocal gymnastics are absurd, and it’s all set against this girl who isn’t afraid to be herself. Sometimes I’m not sure that America gets just how fortunate it is to have Catie, but I keep my fingers crossed for her because you can cultivate a look. Hollywood does it every day. But a natural voice like that? It’s hard to find one of those, even once upon a dream.
Dennis Lorenzo, “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?”
Dennis hasn’t seen his daughter in two years? Oh my God?? Good for Dennis, I guess. Anyway, he chooses “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” because he sees himself as a Simba because his father was murdered when he was a child. No matter the questions I have for Dennis’ lackluster reaction to seeing his daughter after two years (I cannot get over this), it’s hard to ignore how incredibly talented he is. He seems to give special attention to each note, and it shows. It also makes me nervous because I don’t think I understand how voting works, and if we’re going off individual performances, then Dennis deserves to go through, but how can he get the votes in the last five minutes?
VERDICT: No votes for Simba