Big songs are hard, friends. And on week two of Top 24, these American Idol contestants are going big, at the risk of going home. Sometimes it pays off (hi, Ada Vox and Effie) and sometimes it doesn’t. But at the end of the day, it’s hard to imagine that any of the Top 14 is going to be a disappointment because it’s a strong crew. Take a year off American Idol and the talent shows up.
Amelia Harris Hammer, “Believer”
First up is our girl, Amelia Harris Hammer, who has a hard time connecting with people because she’s cerebral, y’all. I like her in a Hamilton kind of way, but her Imagine Dragons song choice is curious because I can’t imagine ever listening to her album and it being anything like an Imagine Dragons album. The judges like her, though, which isn’t surprising because they are so nice this season.
Garrett Jacobs, “Treat You Better”
Okay, so I’m totally here for Garrett, but what is going on with that crazed left eyebrow? It’s having its own adventure while he sings, and I’m just like…following it around. Garrett went all in, which paid off for the most part, but it was when he went off course and tried to be as adventurous as that eyebrow that he went off the rails. Performances like that typically don’t make it out of the Top 24.
Maddie Poppe, “Brand New Key”
Admittedly, while writing these recaps, you kind of sleep on certain people because you’re splitting time with Maggie and there’s so many people. So, let the record show…tonight is when I fell in love with Maddie Poppe because she took an old song and made it so interesting and simple and modern and totally crushed the night without lifting a finger. And the judges took note and realized that Maddie is 100 percent here for a win.
Ada Vox, “Feeling Good”
Ada’s stepping up to be the first drag queen on Idol, but ultimately Adam’s big goal is to become a singer, no matter the way. With that voice, I don’t think there’s a problem with that. Taking on “Feeling Good” is a clear path to victory. Ada works through the song slowly with attention to every note before building to this insane climax, and ultimately, I think it’s going to come down to whether or not America is ready for a drag queen to dominate the competition.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson, “Die a Happy Man”
Young Scotty McCreery does a perfectly serviceable job on “Die a Happy Man,” and will ultimately do well in this competition, but I think one of the struggles I deal with is why do we need another Scotty McCreery if we already have a Scotty McCreery? I’m a Caleb fan, and I would never dare to argue that he doesn’t deserve accolades, but it’s also tricky to say that he’s a favorite.
Effie Passero, “Barracuda”
Effie’s voice is something incredible, and a Heart song is a perfect choice for her. There may have been a couple off notes, but Effie is an incredible talent. The judges take note that while the song may not have been her strongest, it’s still one of the best performances that she’s given because Effie’s time with us cannot be over.
Alyssa Raghu, “Stay”
Alyssa is an amazing singer. Alyssa is also 15-years-old (jk, she just turned sixteen). In five years, I bet this would have been a show-stopping performance. But Rihanna is Rihanna. She’s one of the greatest vocalists we currently have. That’s taking nothing away from Alyssa because can you imagine being this talented at 15? I’m not sure if she’ll make it to the top 14, but Alyssa has everything in the world to be proud of.
Marcio Donaldson, “Inseparable”
Some of the best songs this round have come from songs that maybe aren’t the most current, but the people singing them have made them iconic. Marcio’s turn of Natalie Cole’s “Inseparable” is one of those performances because it’s equal parts emotional and technically powerful. Marcio has such a raw talent. Also, I screamed when it panned to his kid and the baby had spit up. Gagged!
Mara Justine, “Run To You”
Ahhhhh, Mara. Mara, Mara, Mara. I want her to succeed because being that young with that voice is SOMETHING else. But this is Whitney, and it’s so similar to Alyssa Raghu because in five years, I feel like we wouldn’t even deserve the glory of an Alyssa/Mara finale. With that being said, for any age, that performance of “Run to You” is incredible. The vocal gymnastics it takes to fall even close within her league is nearly impossible, and Mara pulled it off.
So, real talk, Jurnee looks like a superstar. I personally think that she’s cheated herself by choosing “Flashlight,” but that takes nothing away from her incredible talent and look. The judges agree with her talent, but they also note that the choice of “Flashlight” is kind of beneath Jurnee’s ability. If Jurnee survives the Top 24, she could really thrive with a solid song that lets her truly shine.
Shannon O’Hara, “All I Ask”
Hoo boy. It’s a night for big songs, y’all! Adele is a chancy pick, especially on a song like “All I Ask,” because it requires you to hit nuanced, vulnerable notes while immediately turning around to belt the next one. I can’t say that Shannon particularly met the challenge, which is unfortunate because Shannon’s voice is killer. The judges loved the performance, but it’s going to take something a bit more to send her though, you know?
Ron Bultongez, “Dancing on My Own”
In certain moments, Ron’s voice is fire. But I’m going to be transparent. I have some serious bias for the Robyn version of this song, so every time I hear this strange, slow version, it just feels like a song that’s trying too hard to be what it is. That’s the same impression that seemed to come from Ron tonight. The judges felt pretty strong about how good he did, but I’m over here, listening to the Robyn version, dancing on my own.