American Idol recap: 'Top 24 Celebrity Duets'
Amateur hour is over; it's time to bring in some professionals.
Welcome to American Idol‘s Celebrity Duets Night! Why we are doing Celebrity Duets this early in the season, we’ll never know. But ready or not, these baby birds will have to not only continue to build their identity as solo artists, but also prove to all of America and the judges that they can hang with the pros.
As if that’s not enough pressure, they’ll also be facing a big cut: Five contestants will be sent home at the end of the evening. It’s about time we really narrowed this competition down. Let’s get to it!
Catie Turner with Andy Grammer
“Good to Be Alive”
It didn’t matter who Catie was going to be paired with; you knew there would be a ton of giggling, sheepish smiles, and hugs. Lots of hugs. So it’s a good thing Catie is matched up with Andy Grammer, nicest human alive. They’re singing Andy’s “Good to Be Alive,” and the feel good message is perfect for Catie. It’s always tough to sing with an established artist and sing one of his songs — Catie doesn’t really convince me otherwise. Andy Grammer is just so polished. But the judges love it. Let’s not kid ourselves, there’s no way Catie is going home tonight.
Cade Foehner with Bishop Briggs
“Tear Us Apart”
Bishop Briggs describes Cade as the “long-locked lover” who has “enchanted” everyone. She isn’t wrong. They’re taking on the INXS classic “Tear Us Apart” and throughout rehearsal it’s Cade — definitely a time-traveller from the 1970s — who offers Bishop some advice. The judges simply have no critiques left to give Cade. He’s too good for them to have notes. Go home and pack for Luke Bryan’s tour, I guess. Cade knows exactly who he is and he basically puts on a one-song concert for us, his adoring fans, every night. He’s another easy pick for the Top 14.
Layla Spring with Sugarland
“Stuck on You”
Layla handles herself well in her duet with Sugarland, but the entire time I just kept thinking: Give me more Jennifer Nettles, please. You guys, she was rocking a gold jumpsuit like the queen she is. The song is perfect for Layla, all perky and fun. It felt a little like bring-your-sister-to-work day, but the judges are all big fans. Lionel knows first-hand how intimidating it can be to sing with the Nettles, and applauds Layla for, you know, not jumping off the stage and running back to Kentucky.
Dominique with Aloe Blacc
“Wake Me Up”
This performance is definitely not Dominique’s best, but we do learn one valuable lesson: May we all find a boo who looks at us the way Luke Bryan looks at Aloe Blacc the first time he hears him sing. He was mesmerized! The judges don’t seem to be giving actual critiques to anyone this evening, and instead tell Dominique things like “he’s a versatile singer” and he is “capable of being famous,” which maybe isn’t the point, but sure. Luke also asks who are they to judge, and to everyone’s credit, not one person yells out, “Um, the literal judges?
Brandon Diaz with Luis Fonsi
Brandon is excited to sing with Latin Pop king Luis Fonsi, but nervous about taking on a song in Spanish. It’s fun to see Brandon with his hair pulled back and getting flirty, but some of his nerves come through. Lionel especially is taken aback by this new side of Brandon and Luke thinks it was the perfect song choice. Has Brandon had any one big moment on the show yet, though? That may hurt his chances moving forward. American Idol loves its moments. (Recap continues on next page)
Kay Kay with Pat Monahan
This is a weird pairing, but Kay Kay and Pat Monahan seem to have fun in rehearsal. Well, until Kay Kay has some issues hearing herself once the full band kicks in. She sounds good throughout, but the song choice just doesn’t seem like the best fit. The judges, who are basically cheerleaders at this point, stick to the positive. Kay Kay has great energy, she held her own, and for her first duet, she really took care of business. There could be some surprises in the results tonight, but I fear for Kay Kay.
Trevor McBane with Bishop Briggs
Trevor is such a big fan of Bishop Briggs; it is very sweet. They sound great together in rehearsals and on stage, but Trevor just can’t match Bishop’s energy. This makes sense since it is her big song and all. The judges were happy to see Trevor open up a little more emotionally, but don’t seem too enthused. I feel like Trevor still hasn’t shown us everything he’s capable of, but I do hope he gets the chance. Fingers crossed!
Michelle Sussett with Luis Fonsi
“I Can’t Make You Love Me”
A surprising song choice for these two, but the Bonnie Raitt classic is Fonsi’s favorite. It’s a great choice for Michelle, who slows things down and shows us a quiet, tender side to her voice. There is real chemistry between the two. You have to assume the judges knew they’d be sending Michelle into the Top 14 before they even saw her perform this week, but they were still pleased to be invited to her show and witness a, wait for it, moment.
Jonny Brenns with Andy Grammer
It is nice to see Jonny having fun for once! Of course, he’ll probably never do it again now that Katy Perry told him, in front of everyone, that he should take ballet lessons, but still. It was fun while it lasted. Even though we haven’t seen Jonny do many upbeat numbers, Grammer’s “Back Home” is a great fit. Again, it’s not his best performance to date, but the judges appreciated seeing some versatility in ol’ Jonny Brenns.
Dennis Lorenzo with Allen Stone
How wonderfully full circle it is for Dennis to sing the song he auditioned with alongside the artist himself. This is the first pairing of the night where it truly felt equally matched. Get these two on tour together, like yesterday. Allen Stone tells us that Dennis’s vocal chords are like a “flock of beautiful doves,” and it is very accurate. The two guys sound tremendous together, their voices blending perfectly. The judges are moved.
Michael J. Woodard with Pat Monahan
“Blue Jean Angel”
Pat Monahan’s second duet partner works out a little better than his first. Michael and Pat decide not to make too much eye contact during the performance since this is a song Monahan wrote about his wife. The strategy works! Michael is still surprising us each week with his versatility, and the two sound pretty good together. Katy calls Michael a “beautiful chameleon,” which is a compliment I never knew I wanted but now am striving to receive.
Gabby Barrett with Sugarland
Yeah, this all makes sense. Gabby gets the big, emotional Sugarland ballad “Stay,” and looks much more at home on stage with her duet partners than some of the other contestants we’ve seen. More important, she sounds great next to Le Nettles. Again, the judges are all impressed, so we really have no idea who is staying or going based on performance. Gabby seems like a safe bet though.
With all 12 contestants having performed, it’s time to make some cuts. For the first time this season we’re dimming the lights and making dramatic pauses — doesn’t this all feel so right? Let’s take a look at which seven hopefuls have made it through to the Top 14:
Michael J. Woodard
Well, friends, any surprises in those seven? Anyone you’ll miss seeing perform now that they’ve been added to the American Idol Rejection Pile? Should Allen Stone just hang out with us all season long?