The best performance from Sunday night's show didn't even make it into America's Top 10, and neither did “the best singer of the season!"
American weighed in on the biggest cut of the live shows, whittling the “American Idol” Top 20 all the way down to 14 -- and immediately started getting it way wrong!
The way the night played out was that all 20 singers still performed, with half of them automatically advancing to the Top 10. The Bottom 10, then, were singing for one of four Judges’ Saves. That meant the judges could correct any mistakes America made.
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Mistakes like putting our top performer of the night into the Bottom 10 -- or four of our Top 10 artists! Seriously, we’re not sure we were necessarily listening to the same show Sunday night.
Okay, we can conceded that season-long performances factor into America’s vote, but that doesn’t explain all of these results. It also put more work in the judges’ hands as more than four of the season’s best contenders found themselves in the Bottom 10.
So who survived and advanced into the Top 14? Did our favorite make it? Did yours? Did the best singer in the competition go home! We’re not saying -- but we will say, we’re still a little salty about some of these results. Salty!
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. But I might be nicer, too. Maybe.
And just for fun, I'm going to rank the performances from worst to first to see who my favorites are each week. That way I can see who's the best and then see if you get it right with your votes -- i.e., agree with me.
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SAFETY ZONE (TOP 10)
(“Stuck on You,” Lionel Richie - 24, Chesapeake, VA) Another surprise from America, maybe it’s that earnest sincerity Dan can bring to a track. He was so straightforward with a sweet, country delivery on this R&B classic. For us, though, he didn’t quite hold this one down even as well as Sunday’s anthem. His tender voice was very pleasant, but when he pushed himself for something bigger, he didn’t land it consistently.
(“Wisher to the Well,” Leah Marlene - 20, Normal, IL) We were more than a little surprised that Leah was coming across a bit out of control and even shrill at the top of this number. She didn’t have all of her notes in their proper order as the song progressed, but her enthusiasm was definitely palpable. She’s an incredible talent and gave us some of those moments we fell in love with, but perhaps the excitement of making Top 10 was a bit too much.
(“Bust Your Windows,” Jazmine Sullivan - 25, Tuskegee, AL) Maybe she was too excited to be in the Top 10, but it took Lady K a bit to find the proper mood of this lyric. She was a little too sweet and tender at the top, unless it was a sarcastic choice. Her voice, though, was stellar and so smooth right from the top. Unfortunately, she missed some of her notes when she started wailing, which hurt the overall experience, but we loved that quieter tone she gave us once she settled into her groove.
(“Creep,” Radiohead - 21, Patchogue, NY) From his look to his stage presentation, Christian put a lounge singer spin on this mellow classic, and it made for a very compelling performance. He has such an interesting and unexpected talent, but also a solid sense of who he truly is as an artist and the type of music he should be performing. This was perfectly suited to his throwback sound -- harkening a bit to the Rat Pack era -- and had some very nice vocal moments. On top of that, he’s got that likability that can’t be faked. Even Ryan was excited to come back out and talk to him.
(“Cuz I Love You,” Lizzo - 20, Los Angeles, CA) Ava continues to explore different sides of her talent, this time being able to do so while relaxed and knowing she was safe. Aside from the obvious smiles and euphoria at guaranteed safety, Ava still managed to give us a lot of great vocal nuance in her voice. We love that grit she carries, giving her a bit of an edge to her voice that’s interesting. She had a lot of attitude on this piece, which was a great showcase for her vocal ability, as well as emotional resonance.
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(“Love in the Dark,” Adele - 16, Cleveland, OH) Interestingly, Emyrson took good news and didn’t quite deliver this song with the same level of intensity and palpable believability as the first time we saw her. She started great and ended great, but there were a few moments of faltering in the middle. It was definitely a step up from Sunday’s performance, and a good reminder of her overall greatness throughout the season. She may be young, but she has one of the most compelling voices in the competition.
(“Cover Me Up,“ Jason Isbell - 20, Louisa, KY) Noah gives us everything vocally that we could ask for, but we are going to ask that he take some time to work on his enunciation. Especially in the lower parts of the song, he’s almost swallowing some of those lyrics, making them nigh incomprehensible. He has such a way of connecting with a song we need to understand its message throughout to go on that journey with him Vocally, though, Noah is consistent and stellar each time he’s out there, killing it when he belts and when he comes at us gently.
(“She Used to Be Mine,” Sara Bareilles - 18, Toronto, ON) America must have remembered the early rounds when Nicolina was one of the best of the season. She didn’t deliver that for us Sunday night, but was back to form here. Nicolina touches our souls when she feels connected to her songs. She nailed the passion of this piece, she nailed her notes, and she proved why she’s a great addition to the Top 10 (even if we weren’t sure she’d make it here). We’re glad she showed back up.
(“Vice,” Miranda Lambert - 23, Winchester, TN) Taking a victory lap through this performance, HunterGirl couldn’t stop smiling. But she still gave us absolutely everything in this performance. We love her big voice, her breathy tender side and even her gently speaking tone. It is incredible the quality that she has in her voice, like she’s someone who’s been doing this for years and years and already cut four or five records. She’s an absolute pro up there and definitely one of the best ever on this show.
(“Golden,” Harry Styles - 28, Dansville, MI) Fritz continues to blossom in front of our eyes, growing in confidence to match what was already a gorgeous voice with incredible range and power. This is a joyous anthem and Fritz finally looks and performs like someone genuinely living in that joy. It’s been a remarkable journey already to this point for the guy who continues to feel like he may be on his way to winning this season.
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DANGER ZONE (BOTTOM 10)
(“Through the Fire,” Chaka Khan - 23, Baltimore, MD) On Sunday, Katyrah shot for the stars, knowing what she’s up against in this competition. She certainly went with the “go big or go home” adage here, taking on one of the industry’s biggest-ever voices. Unfortunately, she didn’t nail several of those big notes she went for to try and put her stamp on the show. Coupled with the same problem Sunday night, we suspect this won’t do the job of saving her.
(“I’m Your Baby Tonight,” Whitney Houston - 18, Muscle Shoals, AL) Cadence has been inconsistent throughout the season so far, and this has not been her best week. This performance felt like something you might see at a high school talent show that would be a real crowd-pleaser. But we didn’t get the artistry we were looking for, nor was she consistently solid in her delivery. She had some great moments in there, but it’s not all together just yet.
(“All I Want,” Kodaline - 19, Nashville, TN) Elli has one of the sweetest and tenderest gentle voices in the competition, but when she goes for broke -- well, it’s just a slightly louder version of that sweet, tender, gentle voice. That’s not a good thing when a song demands a few moments of emphasis, as she doesn’t seem to always have it in her. Elli is a young artist who feels like she’s yet marinating, not quite fully formed. There’s something there, but it hasn’t grabbed us.
(“Tainted,” Allegra Miles - 19, St. John, USVI) After a breakthrough performance Sunday night that saw us rank her at our number one, Allegra slipped again on an original. Don’t get us wrong, the song itself seems pretty great, but she was all over the place in her pitch at times, clearly rattled by the results and nervous at what could be the end of her journey. This started off fantastic, but went off the rails. We saw the incredible potential Sunday and at the start of this, but will the judges?
(“If It Hadn’t Been for Love,” The Steeldrivers - 18, Kamloops, BC) Finally, Cameron took the note. He put more emphasis on his voice than his stage antics, and what a vocal transformation. There was texture and depth to his voice we’d never heard before. There’s a unique character in there we only got in glimpses. Interestingly, his voice faltered slightly when he did start moving around, as if he hasn’t figured out his breathing just yet if he’s also exerting himself. But when he just stood there and delivered, boy did he deliver! What a great surprise! He even admitted he was fighting to be there; even skipping his signature flip.
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(“Rise,” Katy Perry - 28, Dansville, MI) Apparently, overall performance means even more to America than we thought, because we have a hard time imagining anyone could fault a single thing he did vocally on Sunday night. This was the song that blew us away at his audition, but it wasn’t quite as powerful this time around. Don’t get us wrong, he still has those ridiculous vocal moments, but he didn’t nail every one of them as consistently, nor was the overall performance as believable or palpable. Clearly, Jacob was a bit rattled and feeling beat down, but he’s still an incredible vocalist with a true sense of artistry. He deserves to be here.
(“Believer,” Imagine Dragons - 23, Salisbury, MD) The crowd was shocked this Platinum Ticket holder didn’t sail right through, but he’s had a disconnect with his songs that’s been very jarring. It’s all well and good to sing well, but we need to feel something, or at least to believe that you feel something. While he was still a little over-the-top and theatrical with his emotional performance, there’s no denying the power of his natural voice. We actually weren’t feeling his falsetto this time, with notably missed notes in there, but it’s a minor complaint to one of the competition’s best talents. Maybe he needed to be humbled a bit to better connect?
(“Bed on Fire,” Teddy Swims - 27, Warrenton, VA) Is it because there’s so much country on the show this season? Mike really found himself artistically on Sunday night, and continued that path with a great performance Monday night. We still love the power he injects into these country songs. What he needs to do now is figure out what kind of stage performer he is because he’s on his way vocally to becoming something special.
(“Brown Eyed Lover,” Allen Stone - 20, Burbank, CA) Maybe Sage prepared herself mentally for not being in America’s Top 10 because she came ready to fight for that spot. From the first word, she had us paying attention. We’d have liked that same level of attack with each punctuation in the song, as she never quite matched that opening intensity, but we did get a lot of quality vocals, attitude and unique artistry from her. Sage stands alone in the competition, and she made a strong push for the judges here.
(“Are You Gonna Go My Way,” Lenny Kravitz - 17, Pell City, AL) The challenge for Tristan has always been avoiding crossing that line into self-parody. Authentic power rock has struggled notoriously for decades now on this show, and rock in general doesn’t have the cultural impact that it did when this show started. All of that works against him when it comes to America’s votes. Plus, there is an element of dramatic showmanship to rock-and-roll. Tristan seems to be the real deal and really feels the passion of what he does -- and he sounded great yet again. Is there room for rock?
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Already, we’re mad about how these results turned out because four of our original Top 10 based on Sunday’s performances wound up having to sing for their votes. But that doesn’t necessarily mean we believe Allegra Miles (our number one!), Jacob Moran (5), Mike Parker (9), and Cameron Whitcomb (10) all deserve to move on.
Allegra skyrocketed to number one Sunday night for us, but then she faltered again tonight. And while Cameron Whitcomb sounded better than ever, we feel he was outperformed on the night by Tristen Gressett. With the judges in power, that could be good for Tristen.
Our Top 4 based on tonight of those in danger included Tristen, Sage, Mike Parker and Platinum Ticket holder Jay. Now, Jay has been a bit of a bumpy ride for us, but that voice is so hard to deny. Mike may be the fourth country singer in the competition, and not as polished as Noah Thompson or HunterGirl, but we are enjoying him finding himself.
Going into the final results, we were looking for Tristen, Jay, Sage and Jacob to advance -- with wild cards in Cameron and maybe Mike as a long shot as there are so many other country contenders. So what did the judges do?
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Katy was the first to pick and immediately threw our predictions away -- but she also saved our number one from Sunday night, so we couldn’t complain as Allegra Miles joined the Top 14. She’s not been consistent, but she showed artistry and greatness Sunday.
We fully expected the judges to come through for their Platinum Ticket holder, and Lionel Richie got the honor of telling him -- while also telling him it took a long time for him to get to the core of who he is. Here’s hoping Jay takes the note as he heads into the Top 14, so he can stay longer.
Probably because Luke Bryan is on the panel, but we absolutely applaud the decision to continue following Mike Parker on his journey of growth and self-discovery in the Top 14. He earned it with his most connected performance yet Sunday, and delivered yet again tonight.
With only one slot left, we couldn’t imagine anyone but our resident rocker getting it. He was so authentic tonight, and he’s in his very own lane on the show. America may not get it, but we definitely do. Did the judges? They did, landing Tristen Gressett in that final spot.
“American Idol” airs Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.