American Idol recap: The Top 14 go live for the first time
American Idol is going live, baby! And more than just drama (although the show moves with such breakneck speed it’s hard to imagine there being any time for real drama), this means that the show officially makes its transition into public voting. Tomorrow, we’ll be revealing the Top 10, which consists of seven contestants voted through by America and three selected by the judges. That’s a lot of pressure on these performances. Let’s see who holds up!
Laine Hardy // “That’s All Right” by Elvis Presley
It was only a matter of time until Laine tackled an Elvis song. And it’s a nice way to kick off live shows! I’m into this hunting-and-fishing goes Hollywood transformation and I feel like the teeny boppers watching will be too. The judges definitely are! Luke wants him to get a little looser, but the improvement on his vocals from last season cannot be denied. I’d be surprised if America didn’t vote the Bayou Boy through.
Evelyn Cormier // “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World
Well, this is an interesting song choice for our little odd bird. I don’t know about you, but I want to be HAUNTED by Evelyn’s vocals, and this song just doesn’t do that. The judges disagree with your lowly recapper and love that Evelyn is giving them something a little different. I’m all for being a “chameleon,” as Katy says, but Evelyn’s soaring vocals were drowned out by the big band on this one. In other news: Evelyn was on 90 Day Fiancé and I offer up one thousand apologies for not discovering that earlier. What a season!
Alyssa Raghu // “She Used to Be Mine” by Sara Bareilles
This speedy format tonight doesn’t make it easy for one to have a “moment” but this is definitely the type of song I’ve been waiting for Alyssa to tackle. It gets lost in the rushing of this big episode, but Alyssa’s vocals are excellent here. They’re so good, Lionel has to stand to give his critique. Also, both Raghu parents are bawling, and honestly what more could you want? Always shoot to make your parents cry, Idols!
Eddie Island // “Benny and the Jets” by Elton John
Yes, with the song choices tonight. Also with the coat choices. Eddie has taken the past few rounds to show us his more serious side, but with this number, he’s reminding us he’s a showman. These might be his worst vocals of the competition—and the judges remind him to stay on top of that, I mean, this is a singing show—but he’s an endearing competitor. But with such a stacked Top 14, endearing might not be enough. How dramatic!
Riley Thompson // “Suds in the Bucket” by Sara Evans
It’ll be hard for Riley to top her vocals from her duet with Brett Young and this country romp doesn’t really help. It does, however, show off her performance power. The judges go nuts for the little country cheerleader. She’s a star! Katy loves how natural Riley’s stage presence is, and is wowed by just how much the 16-year-old has grown over the course of this competition. Is it enough to nab a spot in the Top 10?
Wade Cota // “Trouble” by Ray LaMontagne
Mystery solved! Wade says he got that insane rasp on his voice from years of performing in heavy metal bands. Bless heavy metal, am I right? Once again Wade picks an excellent song to service that rasp with this Ray LaMontagne number. The judges have always been Wade fans, so it’s no surprise that Lionel tells Wade that he “dropped the hammer.” What does this mean? Who knows, but it sounds cool.
Dimitrius Graham // “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran
I’m trading in Eddie Island’s Elton John coat for Dimitrius’s green number. I don’t know when this show turned into American Outerwear, but I love it. Okay, I guess we should chat performance. Dimitrius’s arrangement of this song is a ride. Honestly, I’m exhausted by the vocal acrobatics, but, like, in a good way. Katy calls him an artist. Lionel calls him explosive. The love him!
Madison VanDenburg // “Fallin’” by Alicia Keys
Oh, okay. Madison VanDenburg came to play. You should never tackle this Alicia Keys burner if you cannot bring it and Madison brings it…and then brings some extra. “You just really made a statement,” Luke says after showing off his goosebumps (they’re called “goosies” on this show, guys). The judges are blown away by how much soul they are hearing from her voice and want to see more of it. I can’t see a world in which the judges let Madison go, can you?
Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon // “We All Fall in Love Sometimes” by Elton John
YOU THOUGHT I WAS KIDDING ABOUT THE OUTERWEAR, DIDN’T YOU? Give me this trench moment or give me death! I mean, there’s also some good singing, I GUESS. This is probably the least connected I’ve felt to Jeremiah’s performance, but his vocals remain a true blessing. Katy is in tears. Luke doesn’t feel worthy. Vote this guy through, America!
Uché // “Finesse” by Bruno Mars
That first pose Uché hits please and thank you forever. His vocals get drowned out for much of it, but Uché throws a party. Katy needs to be resuscitated live on air. Luke, I’m sorry, Luché as he would like to be called now, likens it to the opening of “the best award show ever.” Remember when Uché almost didn’t make it through auditions? Look how far we’ve all come! We’ll see how much performance value plays with voters, but until then, just enjoy the show.
Alejandro Aranda // “One Dance” by Drake featuring Wizkid and Kyla
You guys, when you were just a youngster watching Kelly Clarkson sing about a moment like this, did you ever once think we’d be watching an electronica performance on the Idol stage? Here we are. I miss the emotional Alejandro we’ve come to know, but the guy’s trying to show off his versatility here. It’s not my particular jam, but you can see Alejandro’s artistry growing. Also, Stevie Nicks is a fan, so what more could you want, really?
Ashley Hess // “Fix You” by Coldplay
This is a big song to take on, but Ashley seems like she can sing anything. It’s not as emotionally stirring as we’ve come to expect with this song, but after our venture in EDM, I’ll take it. Katy compares Ashley to Diana Krall and Carole King and now all I can think about is Ashley taking on any of their songs. If she makes it through to the Top 10, get on this.
Laci Kaye Booth // “I Miss You” by Blink-182
What can’t Laci Kaye Booth sing? She hasn’t had a misstep on this show yet, it’s honestly kind of a miracle. And even the one thing she’s been called out on — her spray tan — she has enough sense of humor to be self-deprecating about it. As Luke notes, the spray tan doesn’t matter — “you could’ve been purple, girl” — when you can sing like she does. If Laci isn’t in the Top 3, I will revolt.
Walker Burroughs // “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” from The Sound of Music
Um, weird, but sure. I would have never expected a big musical ballad from Walker, but perhaps that is exactly the reason why he chose it. With a song like this though, I want to be capital-M Moved, but couldn’t emotionally connect. Am I dead inside? Discuss below! Regardless, the judges praise Walker for taking a big risk and hitting notes they’ve never heard him hit before. It’s a big gamble in the first round of live shows!
Well, Idol babies, that’s all she wrote. It’s hard to believe that we’ll be cutting four of these singers tomorrow night, but that’s how things roll in this warp-speed version of American Idol. The Top 10 is calling! Let me know your predictions below.