For the first time in show history, America will decide between the final two contestants to see which one makes the Top 20 and which falls just short.
For the first time in "American Idol" history, the judges have copped out in coming up with their Top 20.
Tonight saw the conclusion of the episodes that should have finalized that illustrious group, but things didn't quite work out that way. And before you get excited and thinking maybe there was a Top 21 because two contestants were so great, that's not quite how it worked out.
There were two contestants who were so great they couldn't decide, but rather than just put them both through they put their Top 20 fates in the hands of the viewing audience. As soon as the episode ended, the voting lines opened with America set to decide which of the two makes it in.
Now, we're all for a fun twist, but there's just one problem. In order for this to make sense, we needed this to be two singers who are on the cusp of earning their sport, singers who still had room to grow but connected with us along the way.
Instead, they picked two of the best singers of the season so far, two performers with signature identities and sounds, two singers who are both deserving of being in the Top 20. In fact, they were among our favorites of this entire round ... and yet only one will make it through.
So we've almost got a Top 20 as "Idol" faces an uncertain future. Next week is a thing called "This Is Me" (and listings have it as a Part 1) that's supposed to feature unseen footage and new performances from our Top 20. Maybe they'll reveal the results of the vote?
But at this point, "Idol" is supposed to shift to live shows and America's vote to start whittling down to a winner, but there's a pandemic and social distancing makes all of that impossible. Producers have been scrambling to come up with creative ways to continue, so we've faith they will. But they may drag out this stage just a bit longer.
If Fox really wanted to milk this during these long weeks of self-isolation -- and significantly higher television ratings -- they'd consider shifting back to the format of only losing one contestant a week after a certain point and let this competition run through the summer.
("Take Me to the Pilot," Elton John, - 27, Donaldsonville, LA) The biggest problem Robert has had is that he doesn't know how to -- or want to -- rein in his big voice to create a pleasing performance to the ear. There's no denying he has a huge voice, but he needs to shape it into songs that aren't one run after the other, and he seems to always want to show off. It's something Adam Lambert learned through his time on the show, but Robert keeps going bigger and broader. This performance was too untamed like most of Hollywood, so there was nothing to latch onto and root for. Result: Out
("You Say," Lauren Daigle - 21, Goodrich, MI) She had us feeling from the beginning on one of the most emotionally raw songs of the modern era. It's hard to get this one wrong, but we did want more when the chorus hit. That's it's power anthem where she's supposed to be saying that she's going to get through this, but Genavieve was underselling it. She had so much more to give emotionally than we got. Vocally, though, it was lovely, just lacking. Result: Out
("Sorry Not Sorry," Demi Lovato - 17, Temecula, CA) This was not a perfect performance but it was still a great one, and one that you root for. Makayla can sound young when she sings, but it almost worked on this song, though we were getting more Ariana Grande vibes than Demi Lovato throughout. Still, she's a voice to be reckoned with and could be a real danger when she fully figures out what to do with it. Her stage performance was fun to watch, too, as someone who's confident in who they are. Result: In
("This Is Me," "The Greatest Showman" - 19, Tampa, FL) Despite her struggles with anxiety, Aliana always seems to gain confidence when she starts to sing. This is a big song and she was there for every step of it. There were a couple of bum notes, but she has so much heart and gives so much of herself to these performances, we can only hope that she starts to believe in herself as much as the judges do. Result: In
("Send My Love (To Your New Lover)," Adele - 20, Bellport, NY) Shannon delivers such a cool package on stage. She doesn't have the biggest voice, but she handled Adele quite well, which is no easy task. She brings plenty of heart and emotion to her performances, and this one added a little sass and fun along the way. She's interesting and unique, which we can always use more of on shows like this, but somehow the judges cut her anyway. Result: Out
("Proud Mary," Tina Turner - 17, Menifee, CA) Olivia has always felt like she skates by each round, with her winning personality, dancing and stage performance taking her just over the edge after so-so vocals. But this is supposed to be about the voice. Once again, she leaned on her other skills -- which are considerable -- but she also brought one of her strongest vocals yet. She's definitely very watchable and knows how to entertain a crowd. Result: In
("Lonely," Noah Cyrus - 26, San Jose, CA) This performance was emotionally resonant, but it was a bit too theatrical overall. There's no denying that she knows how to deliver a lyric and a sentiment, because she commanded her story and her moment on that stage. She made it look easy, she had so much control of every note. So what went wrong? Why did the judges send her home? We hope it wasn't because she doesn't look like the other girls. Maybe because she just didn't sound like a pop singer. Result: Out
("Two More Bottles of Wine," Emmylou Harris - 28, Nashville, TN) With an old-school country sound, Lauren focused on telling the story of the song. She had all the frustration and anger and pain of the lyrics in her performance, as well as the defiance and the big middle finger up in the air. She's such a confident singer and performer, she was effortless in this one. It's not the biggest voice but she brings it each time. Result: America's Vote
("Lady Marmalade," LaBelle - 18, Atlanta, GA) You have to be confident to take on this song, and Cyniah had it in spades on that stage. She was strong, beautiful, bold and even playful with the crowd. And through it all, that soaring vocal that she just makes look so easy. She is a classic diva voice with a very cool and hip delivery. We'll even forgive a big missed note because she got most of them and didn't let it rattle her. Result: In
("You Don't Do It for Me Anymore," Demi Lovato - 17, Lakeland, FL) Too many singers equate volume and power with talent, but Kimmy knows that a gentle, softer note can have as much impact as those big old notes that make everyone jealous. She gave a beautiful vocal with a few high notes sprinkled in to show she could, but mostly it was about making a connection. And at that, she absolutely excelled. Somehow, though, the judges didn't like the song or what she did with it. Result: In
("The Times They Are a-Changin'," Bob Dylan - 26, Bakersfield, CA) Picking the show up where we left off last weekend, and after a very strong take on a challenging song, all that was left was finding out that Dillon was in ... we mean if he was in. But come on, was there doubt? Result: In
("Respect," Aretha Franklin - 16, Vancouver Island, Canada) We had absolutely no faith that little Lauren could pull off the attitude of such an iconic empowerment anthem, but she channeled someone twice her age and absolutely nailed every bit of it. We have no idea how she did it, but that big old voice did not let her down one bit as she made a huge statement heading into the Top 20 ... obviously. Result: In
("Levels," Nick Jonas - 20, Long Beach, CA) Sophia was always a confident stage performer but this was next level voodoo confidence. Seriously, she owned that stage like this was her band and her concert in a way no one before her had. On top of that, she laid down a very strong vocal performance. But the big takeaway from this is that she really knows how to work a crowd. Damn! Result: In
("(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," Aretha Franklin - 28, Nashville, TN) Grace put her country spin on one of the most iconic songs of all time and she just killed it. She had all the attitude, the strength, the control and confidence and even found a little growl to really tell us that she means every word of this right here. That's a professional-caliber performance deserving of all the praise. Result: America's Vote
("Daughters," John Mayer - 27, Durham, NC) What a special artist and soul Franklin is. He is the most unassuming and gentle man who absolutely has no idea what a natural gift he has for storytelling and sharing his heart with us through music. He was absolutely mesmerizing on this track, dedicated to his own daughter. We felt every word, we've loved every performance and he's one of our absolute favorites. Result: In
("Glitter in the Air," P!nk - 21, Staten Island, NY) That was a command performance of a song with lots of layers and demands of a vocalist. She had to show tenderness with depth and grit but also strength and power and passion. And Julia did all of that and more. She absolutely knew how best to sell this vocal, taking us all on a journey with her through every note until we were putty in her hands. Result: In
("Is This Love," Bob Marley & the Wailers - 21, Wichita, KS) If the marker of the next Alejandro Aranda is to be a wholly unique artist with a signature sound, Arthur Gunn is that contestant. He is incredible every time he hits the stage, he knows who he is as a singer and performer, he never fails to deliver and captures the hearts of the audience with his first note each time. He is truly something special. Truly. Result: In
"American Idol" continues next Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.