As the top 10 dwindles down to eight, underdogs rise to the occasion with Grammy-winning hits.

By Justin Kirkland
March 04, 2016 at 01:59 PM EST
Ray Mickshaw/Fox
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Have you put yourself back together American Idol fans? Oh, you don’t know what I’m talking about. Well, you must have been living under a rock. Last week, Kelly Clarkson showed up and performed on the Idol stage, and ever since, the rest of us have been walking around, singing “Piece by Piece” to ourselves, and breaking down into ugly cries. But I guess you could say that the other important part is that the top 10 were revealed and performed for us. In the opening moments this week, we find out that the Idol winner gets a car from Scott Borchetta. Classic Scott.

This week, in addition to the Idols singing Grammy-winning hits, Harry Connick Jr. and Demi Lovato are performing. That announcement gets a decent amount of applause, but like, imagine if Kelly did a new song every week. What a time to be alive! Anyway, if I’m understanding the judges correctly, it appears that for some reason, these double elimination going down this season aren’t entirely decided by America. The judges will unanimously decide which two go home from the bottom three. But we’ll get to those semantics later. Let’s kick things off with Dalton.

Dalton Rappatoni, “Radioactive”

​Rank: Eighth

What’s great about Dalton is that he has a pretty good hold onto who he is and usually nails that on that head. But this week, it feels like he might have slightly missed the nail. Or like, nicked it on the side. By no means would I say the performance is bad, but it lacks the originality and essence that his other performances have had. The judges agree, but they don’t seem too worried. I don’t either. Dalton isn’t an Imagine Dragons kind of kid though. I want to see him scream out “Welcome to the Black Parade,” partly because it would be perfect for him, but also because I just want someone to get me, ya know?

Lee Jean, “Use Somebody”

​Rank: Fifth

Oh my goodness! Lee is going after something not Ed Sheeran. At first, I think that it’s a ploy to finally throw him under the bus that’s probably being driven by my TV Boyfriend Mackenzie Bourg, but once he starts singing, I’m pleasantly surprised just how good his rendition is. Honestly, it’s the first time I think I’ve heard Lee Jean sing instead of hearing Lee Jean imitate Ed Sheeran. Jennifer tells him that he could do even more. Keith says that the song didn’t work for him at all, and Lee develops a vitamin D deficiency from all the shade being thrown. I’m sitting at home, screaming, “Can Lee Jean just live??” LORD.

Demi, Demi, Demi

Out of absolutely nowhere, Demi Lovato comes out on stage to perform “Confident” with the girls, with each one progressively getting more and more talented. We end with La’Porsha and Sonika, because duh. While we all recovered from that Demi Lovato-inspired whiplash, Demi shifts into a shortened version of her new single “Stone Cold.” The one thing that’s impossible to deny is that Demi Lovato has a crazy powerful voice, and if she does anything well, it’s power ballads. Oh, Demi. What’s wrong with being confident? Literally nothing is wrong with being confident.

NEXT: The nicest angry girlfriend ever

Sonika Vaid, “Since U Been Gone”

​Rank: Seventh

So, apparently Sonika found an alter ego. Like Sasha Fierce for Beyoncé, or Roman for Nicki Minaj, or the other name I use when I order a third pizza from Dominos in a week. What that means for Sonika is that she’s taking on angstier songs, sporting a Bumpit, and wearing PANTS. (I’m starting a campaign to bring back Sonika’s floor length gowns.) The vocal itself was great because Sonika is great, but the judges argue that there really isn’t any angry girlfriend in the performance, and they’re right. If you’re going to go for angry girlfriend, you can’t go halfway.

MacKenzie Bourg, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”

​Rank: Sixth

Guys. I can’t breathe. TV Boyfriend MacKenzie Bourg is doing Whitney like it’s no big deal. The composition is still fun, but also singer songwriter-y. I’ve never wanted to dance around with a flat white and a bowl of quinoa more in my life. MacKenzie was going for a “wow” moment, and even though I wouldn’t say that he got to some kind of big impressive climax, the performance was great. The judges are mostly supportive, but if the performance wasn’t enough, his dedication of his performance to his grandma is. Every 17-year-old girl in American (and me) melted.

La’Porsha Renae, “Halo”

​Rank: Second

Last week, La’Porsha crushed the competition. You can hate on her hair (named Kokamo) and her story and anything you want, but at the end of the day, you can’t stop her shine. To make a point, she tackles Beyoncé’s “Halo.” She spends considerably less time in that vibrato and more time focusing on the notes. She deviates enough from the original that it doesn’t feel like she’s mimicking Bey. The only critique is when she sang, “Idol I can see your halo.” That felt a little corny, but at its heart, isn’t American Idol a little corny? I can let it go.

NEXT: What happened, Harry?

In a slightly more suave approach, Ryan Seacrest introduces Harry Connick Jr’s performance, which if I’m being honest, is NOT my favorite. I remember Harry’s voice. It’s nice. He does those ballads and standards and stuff, and it’s super sweet, right? As for this, I’m not sure what’s going on. I haven’t felt this negatively about Harry since he played Justin Matisse on Hope Floats and that got me amped. Do you know who didn’t botch his song this week? Trent Harmon.

Trent Harmon, “When a Man Loves a Woman”

​Rank: First

They made poor Trent watch himself sing in a mirror so that he could see all those crazy faces he makes. Yeah, the faces are nuts, but like, that’s our Trent. Whatever witchcraft Scott Borchetta worked on Trent’s face must have seeped in and worked on his voice too because this week, he moved up from being a good performer to an outstanding one. That falsetto note that he hit cost me three pieces of sushi and a half bowl of miso soup because I hopped up from my couch and yelled. And his style game tonight is on. point. Jennifer notes that she can see him and La’Porsha at the end. I don’t disagree.

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Tristan McIntosh, “Go Rest High on That Mountain”

​Rank: Fourth

I’m going to be harsh, because it’s top 8 and it’s time to be harsh — Tristan has not earned a place in this top 8. She’s been pitched to us time and time again as the contestant to root for, and she’s good. She is. But she hasn’t had a performance in a while that was worth rooting for. With that being said, Tristan’s take on Vince Gill’s ’90s hit “Go Rest High on That Mountain” shows that the entire cast of Touched by an Angel came down to the FOX sound stage this week and had #blessed her, because that was the best vocal of the night. She dedicated it to her grandfather, who just found out he broke his back. I do hope her grandfather heals quickly, but she has got to stop dedicating songs about death to people who are still alive.

NEXT: Olivia Rox, but does Olivia roll?

And that brings us down to Olivia Rox (but like, why is she in jeopardy?), Avalon Young (makes more sense, but also, why is she in jeopardy?), and Gianna Isabella (who should go home, even if Brenda K. Starr hunts me down and kills me for saying that).

Avalon Young, “Earned It”

​Rank: Third

Avalon is middle of the pack for me, but I would hardly say that she’s supposed to be in the bottom three right now. What makes this all the more painful is that Avalon’s take on “Earned It” is her best performance of the season. This is the kind of music that she should be putting out every single week. Her tomboyish approach may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but honestly, if this is a singing competition first, then Avalon should not be going home.

Olivia Rox, “Trouble”

Speaking of people who shouldn’t go home based on vocal ability, Olivia has no place in this bottom three either. Her personality can feel forced, but her ability is top notch for this group. Unfortunately, this is not the song choice she needed as a bottom three contestant. She stumbles through the verses, struggling to make much out of Pink’s gritty-style, and then she overcompensates when she goes in for the chorus. Olivia didn’t deserve this fate, but after that performance, she’s fallen behind the eight ball.

Gianna Isabella, “If I Ain’t Got You”

I swear on Brenda K. Starr’s career, if Gianna isn’t one of the ones to go this week, I’m going to flip a table. As tough as it sounds, Gianna is the only contestant this week who I believe undoubtedly deserved her spot in the bottom three. She chooses “If I Ain’t Got You,” which is super ambitious. Her performance doesn’t start off too bad, but the notes get away from her and the performance, in comparison to the rest of the night, doesn’t hold any water. In judging, Jennifer sounds defeated, knowing that after tonight, coffee dates with Brenda K. are going to be super awkward.

Even with my fear that Jennifer would lean in the way of Gianna’s safety, it was Avalon who was spared this week (justifiably so). Olivia Rox and Gianna Isabella go home.

So what do you think? Did America the judges make the right decision? Am I the only one who thought Olivia Rox was cut entirely too early? And who are your front-runners? In my world, it got turned upside down a little bit tonight. Hit the comments or shoot me a tweet @justinkirkland4. Until then, stay Demi-Lovato-level confident and don’t forget to vote. We’ll find out who our top six are soon enough.

Episode Recaps

Ryan Seacrest hosts as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan guide aspiring singers on their way to superstardom.
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