American Idol recap: Who do the judges save from elimination?
Ah, yes, Idol’s giving us the age-old “Songs from Woodstock and Also Some Showstoppers” theme. You know the one. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of Woodstock is an excellent theme to pull from, why not have each contestant do two songs based on that rather than squeezing in a completely different theme on top of it? What I’m saying is: I miss the old Idol format. Maybe I’m just an old lady stuck in her ways, but, like, get off my lawn or whatever. Aside from a bevy of great songs to choose from, the Woodstock theme also gives us my favorite Katy Perry look of the season. Give me all the sequins. They’ll ease the pain as we have to possibly cut two more contestants ahead of the semi-finals. Yes, people, the semi-finals! But before we get to that, let’s see how the Top 6 contestants fare tonight.
THE WOODSTOCK ROUND
Madison VanDenburg // “Piece of My Heart” by Janis Joplin
I found her hair distracting but her song choice right on point. Taking on Janis Joplin not only shows off Madison’s huge voice but also gives her a believable bit of edge that’s sometimes missing from those pop ballads. It’s a good look on her! Katy loves that Madison reminds us she can wail on the electric guitar. Luke is happy to see that she’s “digging in” more and more each week and…do we think this is going to be a Madison and Laine finale? Just putting it out there, folks.
Laine Hardy // “I Don’t Need No Doctor” by Joe Cocker
Laine is unbelievably consistent. He knows what he’s good at and he sticks to it. It’s not the most exciting strategy all the time, but it is reliable. Luke praises Laine’s ability to select songs that really complement his voice and Lionel thinks this consistency has helped him create and cultivate his identity. But Katy is the one to speak up and tell Laine that now is the time to push himself a little more. Thrill us, Laine Hardy! We are waiting!
Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon // “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” by Joan Baez
Give it up for Joan Baez who, Ryan Seacrest informs us, was six months pregnant when she performed this song at Woodstock in 1969. I know a whole lot of pregnant ladies who would probably punch me in the face if I asked them to do anything of the sort. Get yours, Joan Baez. This is another good song choice for Jeremiah, but it doesn’t really pick up (or do him justice) until he gets up from the piano and sings his face off. Lionel says that he doesn’t even know what the top of Jeremiah’s range is at this point. So, when in doubt, always sing your face off.
Laci Kaye Booth // “To Love Somebody” by Janis Joplin
Okay, I’d like one night that is just Janis Joplin songs and one other night that is just people wearing full fringe outfits. I mean, did you see Laci’s fringe jumpsuit? A true work of art. If we’re being honest, I like Janis on Madison more than Laci here. Katy tells Laci that her voice reminds of her Bonnie Raitt, which only makes me want to see Laci take on a Bonnie Raitt song. I AM WAITING. Lionel has some criticism: He thinks Laci needs to connect with the audience a little more. That’s not a great sign when we’re making a cut from six to four tonight!
Alejandro Aranda // “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane
This is much more aggressive than we’ve seen Alejandro thus far in the competition and I’m kind of missing the days of “Yellow,” you know? Honestly, I can’t even believe I’m watching a contestant do this song on Idol. Could you imagine this 17 seasons ago? Five seasons ago? What a world! Katy compares Alejandro to Thom Yorke and Trent Reznor (another insane thing to type in regards to this iteration of Idol) and although Alejandro doesn’t show it (he’s shy, we know this!) he must be freaking out inside.
Wade Cota // “With a Little Help From My Friends” by Joe Cocker
Like so many things on Idol this season, I do not understand this intro from an Idol superfan in the crowd but the memory is quickly wiped from my memory when Wade starts singing this Joe Cocker classic. Who knew this would be perfect for his rasp machine (that’s what I’m calling his voice now)? This is one of my favorite Wade performances of the season. And it’s not just because his hair seems to get higher and higher each week. But that doesn’t hurt. Everyone is on their feet by the time Wade closes out the Woodstock portion of the evening.
THE SHOWSTOPPER ROUND
Madison VanDenburg // “I Surrender” by Celine Dion
Here’s the thing guys: Kelly Clarkson sang, sorry, sang this song in season 1’s Top 4 when she was sick AND SHE KILLED IT. There’s no beating that, even if you have vocal abilities like Madison. This song should’ve been retired from this show after Kelly murdered it (her voice breaking made it A MOMENT). It’s not to say Madison’s version isn’t good—I mean, has she ever been “bad?” On the judges side of things, Luke was happy to see Madison really “feel” the music and there was a “cry” in her voice they’ve been waiting to hear. Anyway, I’ll leave this here.
Alejandro Aranda // “Poison” by Alejandro Aranda
Alejandro’s gonna be Alejandro and for his showstopper, he’s doing it his way: He’s singing an original. This week’s mentor, Lauren Daigle, loves the idea of doing an “Alejandro” showstopper and is blown away by his songwriting skills. I’m surprised he’s allowed to do this, but at the same time, I’d like to purchase this song. One “Poison,” please. By this point, you’re either into what Alejandro is doing up on the Idol stage or it’s not for you. This isn’t going to change that. Let Alejandro live, ya know?
Laci Kaye Booth // “Open Arms” by Journey
Laci isn’t a huge belter, obviously, so it’s nice that she has Lauren Daigle to mentor her this week because Lauren is such a great technical teacher. She seems like a big help, especially as Laci takes on, um JOURNEY. She makes it her own, but I still miss her down-home, strumming my guitar, country-folk vibe. You can tell this is really out of her comfort zone, but Lionel thinks she should stay there—he loves this kind of delivery from her. In some great news, she definitely connects emotionally more on this song than her Janis Joplin one—Katy and Luke are holding back tears by the end!
Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon // “Somewhere” from West Side Story
My new favorite thing is watching Lauren Daigle watch other people sing. She’s just so present. Never more so than while working on, I’ll have you know, one of my favorite musical numbers of all time, with Jeremiah. I wish that Jeremiah actually sang a section (or all) of “Somewhere” a capella like he did with Lauren because some of the musical accompaniment was a little much. Luke is right, Jeremiah starts off a little shaky, but the boy brings it home.
Wade Cota // “Through the Valley” by Shawn James
Wade is getting caught up in some of his previous on-stage hiccups and it’s messing with his head. Good thing Lauren Daigle is not only a music mentor but a life coach. I need a session with this woman. She instantly calms Wade down and it leads to another top-notch performance. I hope at least some people out there are voting based on performances and not just personal preference (wishful thinking!) because if they were, Wade would come out on top tonight. Luke tells him it’s a “Johnny Cash moment” and that assessment is dead-on.
Laine Hardy // “Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry
Listen, I LOVE this song, but I don’t think in one million years I’d classify it as a “showstopper.” Idol’s been real lenient with that definition tonight. Lauren tells Laine to work on his timing, his guitar, and…his dancing. He uses, well, a few of those moves. He still doesn’t look as loose as this calls for, but it’s such a jam who even cares? Oh, and if you don’t think Idol is already primping him to win this thing, let me direct you to his name in giant, light-up letters across the back of the stage.
Well friends, after everything—including a performance from last season’s third-place contestant Gabby Barrett making an argument for why she should’ve won—we come to the results. Since this is the last week the judges can use their one “save” you know it’s coming. After America’s vote, we’re left with Jeremiah and Laci as the bottom two, and in a genuine shocker, the judges save Laci Kaye Booth. Listen, you know I love me some Laci, but even she seemed angry that the judges let Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon go.