American Idol recap: 'Top 24 Celebrity Duets'
The judges round out the American Idol Top 14.
The time is now, people! Impress the judges, or be cast aside like Bebe Rexha and Colbie Caillat (who apparently both auditioned for and got rejected by American Idol) before you! Katy, Lionel, and Luke have seven spots to fill and there are 12 contestants left, with one last chance to prove themselves. Whew! That’s a lot of math.
Let’s see how this group of 12 handles a (mostly) new batch of celebrity partners for the duet round.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson with Bebe Rexha
“Meant to Be”
One might think taking, as Luke calls him, “the aw shucks country boy” Caleb Lee Hutchinson and pairing him with pop star Bebe Rexha makes no sense — but as luck would have it, Bebe has a mega-hit with country group Florida Georgia Line. The whole performance still feels a little off, unfortunately. The judges, who cannot hate anything, apparently, still love it with all their hearts. Katy thought it was fun to see Caleb having fun. Luke calls Caleb solid. Lionel enjoyed it. Jeez, calm down, judges! We haven’t even made it to America’s Vote, yet!
Ada Vox with Lea Michele
Take in those words you just read for a second. Ada Vox. Lea Michele. DEFYING GRAVITY. No matter what else Idol does this season, this moment is Idol‘s gift to us mortals. Divas singing a song built for a diva. Lea and Ada crush it, obviously. Their voices blend together like they were made for each other. Luke loves that we’re seeing Ada switch it up and do Broadway (was Ada Vox born for Broadway? I mean, yes, right?). Katy would buy a ticket to this show. Get in line, lady!
Maddie Poppe with Colbie Caillat
Was it just me or was it almost impossible to tell Maddie and Colbie’s voices apart? This was a great vocal pairing. Unfortunately, Maddie is right to worry about her stage presence. It’s a quiet, light song, and the performance doesn’t do much to evoke some excitement. Maddie is very talented though, and the judges love her — she’ll have no problem nabbing one of the seven remaining spots. Still, I’m excited to see her do her own thing again on stage.
Ron Bultongez with Banners
“Someone to You”
It’s Idol‘s theme song come to life! Ron is nervous since this song isn’t really in his wheelhouse and he’s having trouble remembering the lyrics. You guys, how sweet is this Banners person (sorry not sorry, I’m an old person)? He calms Ron down and gives him permission to mess up his lyrics. Like, maybe don’t forget the lyrics, but at least the pressure from the artist is off. This pairing doesn’t totally work and you can see Ron is a little uncomfortable. His voice is still great and the judges still give him all the silver lining critiques a person could want.
Amelia Hammer Harris with Bebe Rexha
“Me, Myself & I”
Yeah, these two sound great together. This is a good, fun song for Amelia to tackle, and both her vocals and performance are top-notch. However, there’s something about the judges’ critiques that are worrisome. Katy “hopes for more time” with Amelia and Lionel goes on about this show not just being about the win, but “about the platform.” Could Amelia Hammer Harris and her lime green leather pants be casualties tonight?
Shannon O’Hara with Cam
Hello, a public service announcement: Have you listened to Cam’s first album Untamed? Please go do it now. You’ll dance! You’ll cry! You’ll dance while crying! Anyway, this is an excellent matchup. Shannon has a natural storytelling voice, so sticking her in country music is a great choice. The ladies sound amazing together. Those harmonies? Yes, please! Like Katy, I keep forgetting that Shannon is only 17. (Recap continues on next page)
Alyssa Raghu with Banners
It’s all meant to be: Banners’ father produced “Yellow” for Coldplay, and Banners grew up wanting to be Chris Martin — now he can live out that dream! As comfortable as Banners seems with this song, it just doesn’t suit Alyssa as well. It never gives her the big moment she needs in this round. The judges notice. Katy still loves Alyssa’s tone, but needs more notes. Lionel — who actually gets booed! — tells Alyssa that this wasn’t an example of who she is or what she can do. This is not the best time to veer off track.
Marcio Donaldson with Allen Stone
“What’s Going On”
Such drama! Marcio was supposed to be singing with Toni Braxton, but she fell ill and had to pull out. Marcio doesn’t learn until show day that he’ll be performing with…Allen Stone! Honestly, Allen Stone is a delight, so Marcio is going to be just fine. Clad in another excellent suit jacket, Marcio and Allen crush this song. Marcio is performing the hell out of it — and the judges note the marked difference from his solo round. Marcio is acting like he knows he deserves to be here, finally.
Jurnee with Lea Michele
“Run to You”
Jurnee’s just taking victory laps at this point because there’s no way she doesn’t make it to the Top 14. Still, she doesn’t phone anything in. She makes Lea Michele cry in rehearsal. She makes everyone else cry later. It’s a seamless duet and their powerhouse voices never run each other over, they only complement one another. The judges have been fans of Jurnee since day one, so they are basically just basking in her glow at this point.
Garrett Jacobs with Colbie Caillat
Garrett breaks all teenage hearts in one collective swoop when he announces he’ll be thinking about his girlfriend back home while singing this love song with Colbie. It’s not his best performance, but he is loosening up. Luke Bryan says he’s proud of the growth he’s seeing in Garrett, so that’s something. But the biggest news to come out of this performance: Surprise! Garrett’s girlfriend was waiting in the audience all along. Ah, young love. Untainted by this cruel, cruel world.
Mara Justine with Rachel Platten
Serious question: Can Rachel Platten adopt me? She is luminous. She encourages Mara to be brave and pare down the song so it is simply vocals and piano, and she tells Mara that she is good enough and perfect the way she is. After they perform an emotional, quiet, vulnerable version of Rachel’s biggest hit, Rachel tells us that she researched Mara and knew the judges wanted to see a different side of her. When Katy tells Mara that “Rachel gave [her] a gift,” it is an understatement.
Effie Passero with Cam
Like Marcio, Effie loses her original duet partner (this time, it’s Jessie J), and gets a last-minute replacement. Lucky for everyone involved, it’s Cam, and they are singing her new single, “Diane.” Its big chorus is perfect for Effie. The judges are up on their feet. They are loving this anthem on Effie. Lionel even tells her she’s “on fire,” which is all very interesting because Effie is not one of the seven making it through to the next round.
So who did manage to grab a spot in the Top 14? Here are the seven lucky singers:
Caleb Lee Hutchinson
Next time, the vote will be in your hands, America. It’s a lot of responsibility, so choose wisely! In the meantime, how do you feel? Who is a surprise? Who is a front-runner? Did we need to know about Katy’s wardrobe malfunction or nah, we’re good?
Ryan Seacrest hosts as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan guide aspiring singers on their way to superstardom.