American Idol recap: Big risks, big wins, and one lyrical mishap
Can you believe how fragile mortality is?
One moment, I’m having a nice pasta bake (mmm) and preparing to recap Idol. And the next, Ryan Seacrest is telling me that children born in the 21st century can vote, and I missed the entire episode because I was standing in front of the mirror humming “Only the Good Die Young” and counting the wrinkles on my twenty-something face. Do you know where they come from? Living my life, watching children on reality television, and reading your comments.
Anyway, I rewatched it all, and it’s a double-song week: Prince’s catalogue and songs from the year the contestants were born. So, like, One Direction songs. Also, because she’s a saint, Sheila E. is here to accompany the contestants. Also, Nick Jonas is in tow. All in all, it’s a big week on Idol.
I’m going to be transparent: I was all-in on dogging everyone tonight because this is Prince. He’s essentially a god of music, and these children…how can they be prepared? Well, look at Jurnee. That’s how to be prepared. Jurnee had this way of fading into the background or appearing defeated for so long, but tonight she showed up REAL hard. And she has knee-high purple boots, which are honestly perfect.
Gabby Barrett, “I Hope You Dance”
When Gabby announced that she was singing “I Hope You Dance,” I screamed. Lee Ann Womack’s big hit is Delilah-level perfection. If you’ve never listened to the Delilah Show, leave this recap (jk, don’t do that) and listen to it right now. You can find that adult contemporary genius on YouTube. Anyway, Gabby sings it, and surprisingly she was just fine. It sounds like she’s coming for every note from underneath. And where are my dramatic ballerinas? I want flowing fabrics. I want Lee Ann Womack lovingly acknowledging her children before pushing them out of the frame. I know this is a very personal critique, but for a girl who has been a country power house, I wanted her to Make Lee Ann Womack Great Again.
Michael J. Woodard, “I Would Die 4 U”
What a perfect song for Michael. We know he can belt, but this gives him the opportunity to really show off his performing skills. The arrangement feels very fast, which doesn’t seem to always work to his benefit, but on the up and up, he works the room like a champ. Also, should I buy a knee-length leather vest? Michael gives me a lot of life, and tonight, he felt like an actual big-time performer. Also the fact that he gave hella attention (and a hug) to Sheila E. is perfect.
Cade Foehner, “Who Will Save Your Soul”
Huh! Look at that! Cade is doing Jewel, who unfortunately couldn’t be there tonight because she is only allowed to emerge into the general population when there’s a version of The Sing Off. We miss you, Jewel. You know how sometimes someone is good, and you know they are, but you don’t really get it? That’s how I feel about Cade. Like, I know he did well tonight, but I’m not sure I fully understand why. Rock music, you know? The judges love it though, and Katy Perry was actually not suggestive in her comments.
Catie Turner, “Oops I Did It Again”
I’m so overwhelmed because this is perfect. It’s like a strange jazzy version that Amy Winehouse might have done if she had gotten ahold of the track first. Catie is such a teenage girl when she’s meeting Nick Jonas or interacting with her peers, but when she picks up that microphone, she turns into a full-fledged superstar. And then when Katy alsomade that Amy Winehouse reference, I screamed because it’s so incredibly on point. Catie is the perfect strange bird that appeared as this season’s very first audition, and if we’re basing this off talent, she should be the last face we see this season as well.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson, “Amazed”
Lonestar. Hmm. That’s a decision you can make. Then again, Caleb’s voice is going to sound great doing it. Without sounding shady, Caleb’s voice is kind of like chocolate syrup. It’s very rarely ever going to make something worse. Even when you throw it on like, steak, it’s still fine. You know what you’re getting with chocolate syrup, but that’s it. It’s just chocolate syrup. And when he throws his signature vibrato and bass on “Amazed,” it sounds like Caleb Lee performed “Amazed.” It was fine, but you knew exactly what it was going to sound like before he started singing. Because it’s chocolate syrup.
Maddie Poppe, “Nothing Compares 2 U”
Ok, wow, this was either going to be a disaster or absolute perfection. And it just so happens that it was the latter. Maddie isn’t the kind of performer who is going to do backflips. She has too much to work with to distract you with that. She’s going to sit down and play the piano and hit the high note and let everyone know that technically, she might be a true classic. When I hear Maddie, I think of Carole King and Alison Krauss. She’s a true talent, and there’s no room for jokes. It’s all facts here.
Michael J. Woodard, “My Heart Will Go On”
Jesus H Christ, I guess it’s time to take a risk? I couldn’t look at Michael sing this because I was too nervous, but taking on Celine? That is a challenge and a half. Taking on Celine’s biggest song? That’s almost impossible. But you know what? Michael pulled it off. The vehicle was so big, though, that I think he did all he could to just hold onto the wheel. Katy argues that no matter what happens, she could seem him taking on the world, and I think she might be right.
Cade Foehner, “Jungle Love”
I know this is a random thing to say, but I love that Sheila E. was allowed to change and put on a matching print for this. Again, as a non-rock fan, it seems like Cade did great. He bent over with his guitar, and it seems like you people love that. “Jungle Love” was a great way for Cade to showcase his talent, and I don’t think he has anything to worry about. Katy makes more sexual comments, and then screams at the end.
Gabby Barrett, “How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore?”
Ok, Gabby! I wasn’t a huge fan of “Dance,” but little miss platinum blonde showed up with extra credit for her Prince number. It was powerful and slowed down and nuanced, and I am deeply disturbed at how much of a Gabby fan I am after that performance. Katy is right (!) when she says that Gabby is probably most ready to go on tour.
Jurnee, “Back at One”
Jurnee turning up in the final seven looking and performing like a winner is really throwing me for a loop. Her rendition of “Back at One” is incredible, even if she didn’t go full-on for that key change at the end. Is it enough to keep her in the competition? I’m not sure. The black, lesbian, wife of a service member checks all the boxes that Idol producers lost by cutting every other person of color except for Michael, so it would be risky to let her fall to America’s vote at this point. We’ll see.
Catie Turner, “Manic Monday”
My heart breaks for Catie because the pressure for this competition has to be insane. But even as wonderful as her pant suit and heel combo is, she forgot the first two lines of the song, and while she was able to pull the better half of it together, you can see that she was pretty shaken by the whole thing. But Catie really is one of the rare talents of this season. Just as Katy Perry said, “You’re destined, so just believe in it,” and honestly, who need the first two lines?
Maddie Poppe, “If It Makes You Happy”
What a perfect choice for Maddie. As great as she is at being the singer/songwriter, it’s the perfect time to let everyone know that she’s bigger than just reinventing some classics (no matter how well she does it). And tonight, for round two, she looks like a cool ’90s rocker with her choker and Meg Ryan haircut. The Sheryl Crow approach is such a smart one, because Sheryl is in that strange cross section of rocker and songwriter. (Fun fact: Kacey Musgraves wrote a good deal of her latest album at Sheryl Crow’s place!)
Caleb Lee Hutchinson, “When Doves Cry”
I’m going to be honest. I don’t want to talk about this.
Cade Foehner: SAFE
Caleb Lee Hutchinson: SAFE
Catie Turner: ELIMINATED
Gabby Barrett: SAFE
Maddie Poppe: SAFE
Michael J. Woodard: SAFE
Ryan Seacrest hosts as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan guide aspiring singers on their way to superstardom.