Lukas really worked hard with his partners, helping to bring out new sides and new levels of confidence from both Eddie Island and Dimitrius Graham. But it was Cynthia Erivo who created the night's most magical moment.
Bobby proved a capable emcee, though he was surprisingly stiff and uncomfortable for a guy who does radio for a living. Maybe it was the teleprompter when he's used to just speaking from the heart, but it gave a sense of how talented Ryan is at doing what he does to shepherd this show forward.
Just like Sunday night, three acts got cut by the end of the show, including one who felt like they had the potential to really go far in this competition. And by the time the dust settled, the Top 14 stood revealed and ready to face America's vote next week.
That was kind of a mess. Raquel was all over the place and while runs can be good and fun in the right places, it created even more of a disconnect between her and Mitchy Collins. A partnership should be about creating art together, and Raquel was all about showing off what Raquel can do vocally. But even that isn't as impressive as several of the other contestants. She missed the connect with the song, with her partner and with the audience. It just didn't work at all.
Eddie Island (f/ Lukas Graham)
"7 Years," Lukas Graham
Eddie tried to rein in the goofy and he did so vocally, but his physical antics still betrayed his lighter side, which was a bit of a disconnect from the lyric. It does seem like he's masking some of his own pain through that silly persona and he needs to gain the confidence to really let it down as an artist if he really wants to draw people in and be vulnerable. If he doesn't, well there are plenty of artists who keep the party lit but it might not win a show like this. Vocally, he was stronger than anticipated and a pleasant surprise.
He was better than anticipated but his voice was perhaps still a little too soft and timid. He also didn't quite switch the tone as the song went from wistful to more angry. Julia took the lead and she was a stellar partner for him, but this definitely shined a spotlight on her more than Logan. He's a talented singer but it might just be a little early for him in his development as an artist. He needs to find his voice and his meaning behind who he is a little.
Evelyn Cormier (f/ Chris Isaak)
"Wicked Game," Chris Isaak
Evelyn sang this during her initial audition and really stood out on it, so now she's got to stand out beside the distinctive voice that wrote it. Unfortunately for Evelyn, this became a showcase for how incredible Chris still sounds on this track after all these years. She brought nothing new to it we didn't see the first time around and really missed an opportunity to find a place or way to shine. It's difficult because there were no surprises as we've already seen her do this. She has a nice quality to her voice, but was this too forgettable?
This was a bit of an odd choice for Ryan, but he really worked it out by the end. He actually seemed a bit hesitant the first time he had a big note but he was wailing by Cynthia's side come the close of the number. Ryan still has one of the biggest and strongest voices in the competition, but he's not always sure what to do with it. He's like a natural athlete with no training at all sometimes. All the tools are there, but he's still not always sure where to direct them. He just needs to settle into the groove of what he's doing and feel it inside and out.
Alyssa Raghu (f/ Julia Michaels)
"Issues," Julia Micheals
Julia picked up on the fact that Alyssa is still a bit too much of a head singer rather than a heart singer. And it was still a little bit too clinical. Julia was feeling her way through the performance, while Alyssa was technically flawless in hitting every note on point and even enunciating carefully. She was also following Julia's lead in stage performance. It made Alyssa look very young ... extremely talented but young. She'll probably get there in time as all she needs to add is connection.
"There Will Be A Light," Ben Harper and the Blind Boys of Alabama
Alejandro doesn't need to show off at this point as we know how great he is, so this was basically a vanity duet with one of his own personal idols. It was a gentle and subtle song and performance with the pair complementing one another's vocals flawlessly. If we didn't know who Alejandro was as an artist, this would have been a huge risk, but instead it simply solidifies that we need him on this show as it moves forward. He was able to do so much with so very little.
Wade Cota (f/ lovelytheband)
Wade was getting into this performance and you could really feeling him connecting with the lyrics. It's a sign of someone who's learning how to channel his emotional experiences in life through his performances and it really elevates that artistry to the next level. Wade continues to have one of the most exciting voices in the competition, and while he was very different than his duet partner, they paired off well. The song didn't offer him the opportunity to really shine vocally but he brought it in every other way.
The Grahams really brought the house down with the most heartfelt and connected duet probably across both nights. Lukas helped Dimitrius channel his own emotions through the lyrics and finally Dimitrius is living up to that potential he's shown since his first audition. There's something really special about his voice and his story and the strength it's given him, but he's been needing to put all the piece together. It came together beautifully just now.
Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon (f/ Cynthia Erivo)
"Time After Time," Cyndi Lauper
Now this was stunningly beautiful harmonies and a perfectly partnered duet. Cynthia and Jeremiah's voices complemented one another perfectly, they shared the burden of the lyrics and most importantly, we absolutely believed every word of their heartfelt performance. Plus, you could see the mutual admiration of two artists who love what the other is doing being in awe of sharing such a special moment.
Last night, the judges seemed to make a strategic decision to keep more female voices in the competition and it might happen again. Eddie Island and Raquel Trinidad genuinely feel like they've reached the end of their time, but we'd send Evelyn Cormier off with them.
The judges, however, love her. Last night, we had Logan Johnson joining Eddie and Raquel in our bottom three, but he stepped up and showed some real potential tonight. But we could see the judges giving him the boot anyway.
As they did Sunday night, the judges dragged things out by sending people through into the Top 14, leaving three finalists standing at the end and realizing that the journey ends for them.
Katy kicked things off by sending Evelyn through (which bodes poorly for Logan if our math adds up). She was joined by Dimitrius, Jeremiah, Alyssa and Wade, who couldn't believe it. He still doesn't know how special he is.
Finally, Eddie Island got the nod from Luke, which shocked him and everyone else. Alejandro Aranda was a no-brainer, so it just means that all the potential Ryan Hammond has as a voice just never connected properly. And yes, Raquel Trinidad and Logan Johnson were out the door as well.
Oh, and apparently that big surprise that Ryan Seacrest teased at the close of Sunday's show was his own sick day. That's a bit of a letdown, guy. We were hoping for a new twist!
"American Idol" airs Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.