American Idol recap: Who takes the final spots in the Top 24?
American Idol picks up right where it left off last night, with the fate of young singers Casey Bishop and Alanis Sophia still waiting to be dealt. After their Showstoppers Round performances, will both, one of them, or neither make it through to the Top 24? Don't worry people, we're starting out this second half of Showstoppers and Final Judgments on a high note: Both Casey and Alanis have earned spots in the Top 24. They'll both move forward to the next round in which the remaining contestants will duet with a celebrity musician (some of whom include Josh Groban, Jimmie Allen, Jewel, Katharine McPhee, and Brian McKnight) in front of a live audience (remember those?) in hopes of winning America's vote. But let's not get ahead of ourselves: With those two ladies added to the already announced contestants moving forward, judges Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie, and Katy Perry have filled 12 of the 24 slots for the next round. Who fills in the rest? Let's find out.
Willie Spence / 21 / Douglas, Ga.
"I Was Here" by Beyoncé
Like Chayce Beckham on the last episode, Willie Spence seems like a shoo-in for the Top 24 no matter what he does in the Showstoppers Round. Every time he steps on stage, the judges smile, knowing something good is coming their way. It's no different here — Luke is especially excited because Willie wore the black suit he'd been hoping the guy would come out in — and when Willie finally takes the song up an octave, he reminds everyone why they've loved him since his audition. He never overdoes it and still puts on a show. Lionel calls his performance "powerful" and "deliberate" and Luke and Katy tell him to "suit up, do the work, [and] stay focused" as he moves on to the Top 24. It's up to him now.
Mary Jo Young / 19 / Cleveland, Ohio
"Us" by James Bay
We didn't get to see Mary Jo Young — the TikTok star who had never performed face-to-face with anyone ahead of her audition — during her Duet Challenge, but apparently she had a complete meltdown and forgot all the lyrics to her song. Seems like something we should've seen since we've been watching all of Mary Jo's journey and she's now in the Top 24, but we only get the highlights (lowlights?). She gets a pass because of how much the judges have liked her in previous rounds, which means she has a whole lot to prove in Showstoppers. Her inexperience on stage definitely still shows, but she is able to show off her vocal talent on this song. Katy and Luke tell her that she needs to own the stage, but if she keeps singing from her heart, she'll be well on her way to great things.
Hunter Metts / 22 / Franklin, Tenn.
"July" by Noah Cyrus
Hunter Metts is emotional. He's feeling the pressure to make his family proud and he's only felt increasingly inadequate against his Idol competitors. He's so emotional, in fact, you wish Luke and Katy would just start the Final Judgment by telling him if he's in or not. Be kind to him! If Hunter did have a little more confidence, he'd know he has nothing to worry about: For Showstoppers, he takes a risk performing a song he's never done before and he sounds great on it. It might be his best performance yet. The judges remind him that "no one else sounds like [him]" and that is a huge advantage. The whole thing pays off and they're going to keep pushing him to take risks because Hunter is in the Top 24.
Okay, friends, we interrupt your parade of good news to talk about the artists who get cut at this stage of the show — well, at least the artists Idol has chosen to show us get cut. Others we just never hear from again (where's Xavier Washington or Liv Grace Blue?!). Sadly, Katy, Luke, and Lionel decide to send young rocker mom Althea Grace home after her Beatles performance — they wanted more soul. She's joined by both Ronda Felton and Funke Lagoke, whose duet, you'll remember, ended with Funke fainting and having to go to the emergency room. She's totally fine now, but the judges felt her "Orange Colored Sky" performance wasn't enough to put her over some other contestants, and Ronda's take on Stevie Wonder's "All in Love Is Fair" left the judges wanting to see her grow a little more before continuing on.
Laila Mach, the 15-year-old with the big, soulful voice surprisingly gets cut in this round, too. She's not the only teen with a powerful voice getting sent home: Nia Renée (where has she been all Hollywood Week?!) gets cut after wailing on Sam Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come." That one cuts deep. We also watch as Emisunshine, Lizzy O'Very, and Camille Lamb all get the ax. Not everyone is thrilled about it, but the judges had to make some tough decisions. How about we get back to the good news? We need the good news!
Grace Kinstler / 20 / Chicago, Ill.
"Father" by Demi Lovato
When Grace sits down in front of Luke and Katy, she admits to second-guessing her song choice strategy for Showstoppers. Since she's been singing full throttle and really showing off her power thus far in the competition, she wanted to do something a little different and show some vulnerability. It's funny that Grace thinks this song doesn't show off her power because there are some notes at the end that…. ooooh boy. She's got pipes! We know this! She connects emotionally to the song, which she's dedicated to her late father, and in the end, she's glad she picked it. The judges note that this wasn't her best, but they know how good she can be, so this is another easy "yes" to the Top 24.
Deshawn Goncalves / 19 / Cleveland, Ohio
"Over the Rainbow" by Judy Garland
Speaking of an easy "yes," here comes Deshawn Goncalves making us feel all the emotions with his voice again. His version of "Over the Rainbow," both while he's on the piano and when he's up working the stage, is basically a masterclass in singing. He sounds like such a pro. He's so good that Lionel doesn't even try to pull his usual fake-out when informing Deshawn that he's in the Top 24. No one would fall for it.
Colin Jamieson / 22 / Boxford, Mass.
"Sugar, We're Going Down" by Fall Out Boy
Please let the record show that prior to Colin's segment, Luke completely jams out to New Kids on the Block's "The Right Stuff" with full lyrics and choreography. He should record a cover, it would be huge (in my home). It also fits perfectly in with the arrival of our former boy-bander, Colin. Colin's taking a risk and showing the judges that he can do more than sing sad songs at the piano; he can rock out, too. It's a nice change of pace and shows that he can have a good time and own the stage (he is a wedding singer, after all). And him pulling out his bun to let his hair down does not hurt. The song starts a little too breathy, but once it hits the chorus, he puts on a show and doesn't look back. The judges love it. Katy and Luke give him the good news: Colin and his rocker hair are in the Top 24.
Ava August / 15 / Laguna Niguel, Calif.
"Ghost of You" by Ava August
Ava August also wants to take a risk, deciding to do an original for her Showstopper. In her Final Judgment, Katy tells Ava that "it wasn't all the way there as a song just yet" but like with Grace, it doesn't much matter that it wasn't her best because they've seen what she's capable of. The judges tell Ava that she's "got something really special" and they welcome her to the Top 24 with open, socially-distant arms.
Liahona Olayan / 16 / Wahiawa, Hawaii
"Me Too" by Meghan Trainor
Liahona has had a real journey on this show. She almost didn't make it through Duets because she was so distraught over her brother getting cut in the previous round. This is her redemption performance. It comes complete with splits. An actual split. She's having a party up there with this song. In Final Judgment, Katy tells her she "laid it down" and used "a couple magic tricks" to really own the whole thing and show that she wants this. Luke tells her they "feel like [she has] a lot to contribute to music" and she's made it to the Top 24.
Madison Watkins / 25 / Fayetteville, Ark.
"It's a Man's Man's Man's World" by James Brown
Madison is really taking the Showstopper idea to heart and wants to give a performance where she not only sings the part but looks the part. She is fabulous in a full pink suit and sings the hell out of this song. It's soulful and powerful but also emotionally connected. When she goes to see Lionel in the Lionel's Den, he asks her how she thinks she did in Hollywood, and she says, confidently, that she thinks she "did the best [she] could this week." "We agree with you," Lionel responds. Yeah, of course, Madison is in season 19's Top 24.
Alana / 22 / Lakewood Ranch, Fla.
"Bust Your Windows" by Jazmine Sullivan
Another fab outfit — those leather pants! — for another fab performer. We've seen so little of Alana up to this point and it's a shame because she seems like she not only has some vocal chops, but she really commands the stage. She looks like a star up there in this round, with the full band backing her. The song choice is great and sets her apart from the pack. Hopefully, she'll get a full segment when she performs her celebrity duet next week as part of the Top 24.
Anilee List / 20 / Los Angeles, Calif.
"Ain't Nobody" by Rufus and Chaka Khan
Another early standout and now member of the Top 24 who we haven't been checking in with at all during Hollywood Week is Anilee List. We learned in her audition — in which she showed off some serious runs during her performance of Aaron Taylor's "Blue" — that she has Tourette syndrome and was inspired to audition by season 10's James Durbin. We don't get to see much of her Showstoppers Round performance, but it's a great song choice, and it gives her the chance to show off her soulful vocals again.
Drake McCain / 19 / Spring City, Tenn.
"Country Girl (Shake It For Me)" by Luke Bryan
Cecil Ray / 20 / Cameron, Tex.
"Beyond" by Leon Bridges
And then there were two. Both Drake McCain and Cecil Ray are taking some risks with their Showstoppers Round song choices. Drake is not only doing a party song that requires putting on a show up on stage, but he's performing it in front of the artist who does it best. Luke actually seems pretty excited to have a contestant sing his song and he's up dancing along with Drake, who, by the way, is really going for it. Cecil Ray, the "Country Justin Bieber," has decided to do a song from a different genre, completely out of his comfort zone. Both have sounded better in the past. In the end, the judges are more intrigued by Cecil's potential and give him the final spot, sending Drake McCain home for the second time.
Season 19's Top 24
Alyssa Wray, Jason Warrior, Andrea Valles, Chayce Beckham, Caleb Kennedy, Wyatt Pike, Cassandra Coleman, Beane, Hannah Everhart, Graham DeFranco, Alanis Sophia, Casey Bishop, Willie Spence, Mary Jo Young, Hunter Metts, Grace Kinstler, Deshawn Goncalves, Colin Jamieson, Ava August, Liahona Olayan, Madison Watkins, Alana, Anilee List, Cecil Ray
Ryan Seacrest hosts as Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan guide aspiring singers on their way to superstardom.