37 Memorable 'American Idol' Contestants: Then & Now

Contestants each perform twice with a second round of duets featuring songs from movies like "The Greatest Showman" and "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Another two contestants were eliminated as Adam Lambert returned to the stage that made him to mentor the Top 8 on "Queen" night.

It was a double-theme night, too, as the contestants also performed in duets with songs from the movies. These were a bit of a mixed bag, as some of the contestants didn't do as well working with another artist.

At the same time, Queen is a tall order for any vocalist, and this season has such diverse and interesting voices, many of them are not up to the task of what Freddie Mercury or Adam Lambert are capable of. But that's where smart arrangements come in.

All in all, it was a solid night of performances, though there were no real standout moments from anyone in either round. We will give props to two of the duets for having absolutely sublime harmonies, considering it's not something these singers really work on.

This remains one of the most talented group of finalists we've seen all season and it really is anyone's game. Especially with two people going home each week, because sometimes wild things can happen when the parts are moving this fast.

Fair warning, since I'm safe at home, I'm probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan.

Only ten will survive the night, so we're going to rank the Top 14 from bottom to top to see which four didn't make our cut and see if you agree with us, i.e. get it right.


Madison VanDenburg

"The Show Must Go On," Queen

For such an epic song, Madison didn't seem to quite connect to the story of the lyric. She is sometimes too clinical in her performances and too clean. This is a dirty song that works because Freddie Mercury put grit and pain into his vocals to sing of the strain and pain of putting the art before anything. Madison was powerful and pretty and choreographed, but it all felt like a show, rather than a glimpse behind the show.

Walker Burroughs

"Crazy Little Thing Called Love," Queen

Walker kept this song on the same gear through 90 percent of it, and he really should have shown us more of his strength and power sooner as it started to get a little sleepy. His stage presence was much improved as he looked pretty natural dancing around the stage and interacting with the crowd. His voice has never been the issue, so Walker's mission is connecting with viewers in every other way.

Alejandro Aranda

"Under Pressure," Queen

This was a tough one because it's such an iconic song and Freddie had such a huge voice and Alejandro's is so timid. He rearranged it and mostly made it work for him, but this definitely wasn't something where he looked comfortable at all with the choices he was making. Alejandro always faced the risk of bristling under theme nights, and this is one where he doesn't appear to have quite found his path through it.

Alyssa Raghu

"Somebody to Love," Queen

While it wasn't a stellar performance top to bottom, the great moments Alyssa did have were among the strongest of the night. If it had been more consistent, she might have owned the night. She definitely brought some storytelling and theatricality to it, but in doing so she lost the vocal just a bit here and there. She's so young and she's really finding herself, but she needs to hurry up and do it if she wants to beat some of the other contestants who are further along than her.

Wade Cota

"We Are the Champions," Queen

Wade seemed to get a little lost at one point, but he absolutely connected with the lyric. Especially at the beginning, he sang this like it was his story about his life and that's perfect intention. Wade is a force to be reckoned with, even if the song got away from him ever so slightly on a few occasions. He stepped up for the big parts in ways we didn't know he could and really owned his moment here.

Laci Kaye Booth

"Love of My Life," Queen

Once again -- she sang her duet before this -- Laci was almost overwhelmed by the backing music through the first third of the song. Other than that, this was a chance to really connect emotionally with the song and the audience, and she didn't really do either. It was a performance from her head rather than her heart, and she's usually better at that. Her voice is still fantastic and it was like butter caressing this, but there was no feeling behind it, which was disappointing.

Laine Hardy

"Fat Bottomed Girls," Queen

Adam gave Laine the advice he's needed all season, telling him to swing that guitar back, grab the mic and get out there and rock out with the crowd. He wasn't completely comfortable in it, but he took the advice and gave us those moments we've been needing all along. His vocals suffered only slightly, but it was awesome to see him modernize his stage presence and add one more tool to his impressive arsenal. Laine is the real deal and he's coming together at the right time.

Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon

"Who Wants to Live Forever," Queen

Other than a couple of brief, shrill moments, Jeremiah was strong and confident on an emotionally-wrought song. He had the perfect build throughout the piece so it climaxed right where we wanted to, and he was vocally in the pocket. He could have used a little more body expression to truly sell it, but this was easily one of his most confident performances.


Laci & Laine

"Jackson," Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash

So did Laine totally miss a part there? Whatever happened, Laci outsang him throughout this song, from what we could hear underneath the overwhelming backing music. Nevertheless, their combined rasp works well together and they really do duet nicely. This might have worked better if we had been able to hear them better, and if we believed at all that there was a connection between them. They both failed to sell that. They weren't even aware what the other was doing most times.

Alyssa & Wade

"Ain't No Mountain High Enough," Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell

Bobby Bones was right when he said this was an unlikely pairing, as Alyssa is so pure and sweet sounding and Wade comes filled with grit and gravel. And yet, they managed to work it out and the disparity actually helped to sell the story of these lovers saying there is no obstacle so big they can't overcome it. Neither singer felt particularly connected to the song or each other, but they gave passable effort.

Alejandro & Walker

"Mrs. Robinson," Simon & Garfunkel

You could tell Alejandro put his chill groove on this track, but Walker did a good job of sliding into that with him. It was almost a little too chill, but their harmonies together were so pretty, they kept it lively enough. Singing solo, Walker surprised us by being a little weaker than Alejandro. They also hit a few bum notes during a harmony part, which was unexpected, but they really did sing well together. It was pleasing and soothing.

Jeremiah & Madison

"A Million Dreams," "The Greatest Showman"

In the early seasons of "American Idol" -- before the white guy with a guitar era -- this pair would have had a good run of being the top two finalist. Their voices blended serenely and flawlessly on this song, which they delivered with the right amount of passion and connection. For Madison, this was a huge redemption round as she wasn't quite as strong in her solo performance, while Jeremiah is consistently amazing. Both are knockout performers and vocalists.


Between the two rounds, it was really a mixed bag of performances throughout the night. This is an incredibly talented Top 8, but most of them faltered somewhere in a way that really stood out. That means America's vote is going to be even less about tonight.

Our picks to go home after this week's performances are Walker Burroughs, who just isn't standing out as a personality quite enough, and Alyssa Raghu. We'd be okay with Madison VanDenburg going because she's so inconsistent, but we appear to be in the minority there.

Could Alejandro's off week doom him? Could Wade's missed lyrics doom him? Both seem to be sentimental favorites, so it seems unlikely but with two people going home and live voting through the show, wild things can happen.

Of course, Ryan did things backwards by sending six people to safety, revealing the bottom two by default. First to safety was Jeremiah, followed by Laci and Madison, because of course she is. It must be us that's wrong. We just want her more consistently great.

Joining them on the seats were Laine, Alejandro and Wade, who was stunned. And just like that, America was on the same page as us. Good job, America. That left it up the judges to consider using the save on either Walker or Alyssa, but they've only got one for the season and they opted to hang onto it.

The bloodbath continues every week as "American Idol" airs Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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