We make our way-too-early predictions for next week's Top 14, as well as the Top 10 and even Top 4 contenders for the "Idol" crown this season.
The Top 20 hit the stage for a round of solo performances and for the first time all season on "American Idol," none of them are going home!
That part will come soon enough, next week in fact. After they perform duets with some of music's biggest stars -- or so we're told -- the judges will make their final cut to a Top 14 before handing the show over to the viewers at home to make all the eliminations from that point forward.
That means you don't have to be the absolute best to survive this round. You've got two chances to impress the judges and you just have to be better than six other people who will fall just short of their dreams.
Right now, the guys are looking really strong this year, while the ladies are proving a little underwhelming by comparison. If the judges push for gender parity in the Top 14, we're going to lose some real male contenders and some of these ladies are going to be getting a huge gift.
If it's merit-based only, well... we'll just have to see what happens.
And because it's way too early to do this sort of thing, we've gone ahead and ranked the contestants (mostly) based on tonight's performances to come up with our own Top 14, Top 10 and even Top 4. And we didn't worry at all about gender parity, which makes this look very, very lopsided. But we're still feeling pretty good about these picks.
"Vision of Love," Mariah Carey
Well, this was an ambitious song choice. But she sped it up and rearranged it and made it into something almost completely different. There were a few high notes along the way, but she didn't hit every one she went for, and the rearrangement made the song worse. There's a reason this song launched a career. This take on it is not going to launch Bumbly's.
"Lovefool," The Cardigans
We've seen very little of her to this point for some reason, so this showcase was key for viewers at home. She added a sultry little flair to this fairly straightforward vocal, unfortunately she didn't really put that much more on it. It's an infectious song, but no one would argue it's a singer's song. We didn't know who Raquelle was before this and we still don't. She didn't stand out and only sounded okay throughout.
"Jolene," Dolly Parton
Riley smiled through a song of desperation and fear. That's a tonal disconnect that was jarring and off-putting. But she's only 16, so she still can learn how to connect to the lyric of a song and tell its story. In country music, it's an essential skill. Luckily, she still has a very sweet voice and country music fans love shows like this, so she should be good for awhile. But it's time to grow as a performer and an artist.
"Domino," Jessie J
Going first is always risky, and Madison didn't step up as big as her voice on this song. Part of the problem is the lack of dynamic range or personality in this song. It's more of a fun dance track, but it's not something that's going to help her stand out in a very crowded pack. On top of that, her voice strained at a few points. She still has that something special and gave us a few moments of why she stands out, but this wasn't her strongest performance ... and we really hated that last note.
"Jealous," Nick Jonas
Shawn has a stellar voice with an upper range that is just beautiful, but he is painfully stiff up there on stage. He really needs to work on relaxing as a performer or he's going to get himself a midway exit for failing to connect. He needs to strut rather than awkwardly walk. It's a matter of confidence and fully believing in his incredible voice because it really is all that. Just own it!
"Ho Hey," The Lumineers
A bold song choice, Eddie was looking to prove that he's talking this competition seriously. He definitely got the crowd fired up and showed some interesting dynamics to his voice, but it wasn't the strongest vocal performance. And yet, there was something visceral and powerful about it. Eddie isn't the best vocalist in the competition, and we can't even be sure he'll make Top 14, but he's certainly unique.
"Love Don't Live Here Anymore," City and Colour
There was an almost dreamlike sleepiness to Logan's performance on this, but he did a good job of pulling us into his world. He could have taken a few moments to really belt something out and really grab our attention, but he kept it mostly gentle and subtle. A singer-songwriter approach, he had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand with this stripped down take. Logan is a mid-rung contender right now, but he needs to find his niche to really shine.
Dimitrius oversang the hell out of this song, which so badly wants to just be presented. He turned a beautiful story of heartache into a vocal showcase, missing the point of the piece entirely. And we're not sure what that opening aria was. Dimitrius is one of the most exciting voices in the competition, and we love that he wants to make these bold choices and find his own path, but this was just a huge misfire. At least we saw how good his voice is in all of that.
"Leaving on a Jet Plane," John Denver
Evelyn has one of the most wonderful qualities to her voice, but this maudlin song didn't do her any favors vocally. It's a treacly, dry song and very slow and very dated and she didn't manage to elevate it into something special. It's a shame, because she's usually so unforgettable, but she was utterly forgettable here. She still has a very cool, ethereal, breathy sound but that doesn't mean much if you forget she even performed.
"Sunday Morning," Maroon 5
Another singer we saw virtually nothing of throughout the show so far, Kate brought a very cool vibe to this Maroon 5 bop. If this has been her jam all along, why have we been denied her? She's got such a unique sound and signature sound that's all her own. The vocals may not have been the most dynamic or mind-blowing we've seen, but she's an artist in her own lane. Her performance was on point and her style is undeniable.
"Ain't It Fun," Paramore
Alyssa had an opportunity to push this song somewhere new and show who she is as a vocalist and an artist, but she didn't take it. The overall performance didn't really do her any favors, but it didn't devastate her, either. It was just kind of there. Her voice sounded polished and her stage presence was confident, so she should be fine. But she's better than this and she needs to step up and show that.
"How Deep Is Your Love," The Bee Gees
There's a geeky charm to Walker that's just infectious. He sounded smooth as silk on the opening a cappella of this disco classic, which he stripped into a vocal performance. Walker is an effortless singer, so he now needs to work on elevating his stage presence and performance to matching his vocal talent.
Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon
"Make You Feel My Love," Bob Dylan
There's a natural strength and power to Jeremiah's voice, and he managed to connect with this song and audience from the piano bench. It was an effortless vocal with such range and power. He carries himself like such a pure and beautiful soul, and you can feel the pain he's endured in his life through his lyrics. There were times he was a little too clinical in his vocal perfection -- he could use a little more grit and passion -- but there's no denying his gifts.
"When You're Dreaming with a Broken Heart," John Mayer
A girl, a piano and a beautiful song. That's all Ashley needs to really shine. She stepped back into her comfort zone and brought us right in with her. This was a confident vocal, and a beautifully intimate performance. Ashley knows how to interpret a lyric and her life experience adds a maturity and authenticity that's lacking from a lot of the women in particular this year, for some reason.
"Bring It On Home to Me," Sam Cooke
At this point, Laine is just an effortless performer. He has a wonderful grit to his voice and he proved he's got an old soul in there with The Beatles and Sam Cooke. And he commanded that audience with little more than his eyes and a few strategic looks around. Laine knows what he's about now and he brought this track to church. He's a one-of-a-kind voice and a real contender.
"Figures," Jessie Reyez
In back to back performances, Uché took us to two entirely different places as an artist and he was brilliant in both. He was born to entertain and be on a stage, and on top of that, his voice was absolutely stellar in both arenas. He is uptempo cool, he is heartbreaking mellow, he is everything. A bold song choice beautifully presented, Uché is in a league of his own right now. The whole thing proved too much for Katy, who collapsed to the stage.
"You Say," Lauren Daigle
Well Ryan just wrecked us. The right message on the right song coming out of the right voice can be magical. Ryan connects with this lyric, he feels it in his bones and he has the ability to pull that emotion out and pass it straight through to us. This was mesmerizing and beautiful, building flawlessly to a stunning climax. That's a winner's performance right there.
Laci Kaye Booth
"I Want You to Want Me," Cheap Trick
Laci has no idea how amazing she is. She reinterpreted this rock staple as a beautiful country ballad and it was so gut-wrenchingly beautiful. Laci is in a class all her own and blows us away every single time she hits the stage, and this time was no different. That was the most compelling vocal arrangement of the night.
"All I Want," Kodaline
Wade is finding himself and his confidence on this show and it is so beautiful to watch. He has a singular voice and he just took it next level with this performance. There was more range and dynamic in his quality of voice than we've seen all season in him. This is the contestant the judges were hoping to find when they let him eke through a rough Hollywood Week. And boy did they make the right call, because Wade is the real deal.
"I Fall Apart," Post Malone
Alejandro might be one of the most talented artists to walk through this "Idol" machine and he's only growing more confident and cooler as he goes. His guitar playing is a thing of beauty, his breathy vocal is so effortless. He's just magical from start to finish. If there were an early favorite to step beyond this show and have a career no matter what happens on the show, it would be Alejandro. He's that good.
Right now, we think it's Laci, Wade or Alejandro for the win if there is any justice in the world.
"American Idol" airs Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
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