‘American Idol’ recap: Top 50 become Top 24 on Night 8 of Season 16 [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

On the April 2 episode of “American Idol,” the 50 contestants to survive Hollywood Week will be winnowed down to less than half that when Ryan Seacrest reveals the Top 24. As with the FOX version that ran for 15 seasons, this revival on ABC gave a slew of those who auditioned golden tickets to Hollywood. A whopping 169 made the trip to sing again for the three judges – pop princess Katy Perry, country superstar Luke Bryan and Oscar-winning singer/songwriter Lionel Richie .

At the end of the April 1 episode, we learned which 50 would get one more chance to impress. The 26 men and 24 women took to the stage at the Exchange club in downtown Los Angeles on Feb. 8. We will see highlights from these performances over the course of two hours. At the end of the evening, we will know the Top 24 who will then be judged on both solo performances and celebrity duets over the course of four episodes starting April 8. Only then will we have the Top 14, who get sing for America’s votes on the live shows that kick off on April 22.

SEE ‘American Idol’ Season 16 schedule: When are the live shows and grand finale?

Once the live playoffs of “American Idol” season 16 begin, you will be able to predict the outcome of each episode in our predictions center. You can already make forecasts for the outcomes on such reality TV shows as “Survivor,” plus the winners of the Academy of Country Music Awards and both the daytime and primetime Emmy Awards.

SEE ‘American Idol’ Winners: Where Are They Now (Seasons 1 – 15)?

Below, follow along with all the action on the April 2 episode of “American Idol.”

8:00 p.m. – Tonight the contestants will be tested in front of a crowd for the first time. Who will rise to the occasion and who will crumble under the pressure? Let’s find out! A spot in the Top 24 is on the line.

8:05 p.m.Layla Spring is up first. We first met Layla at the Nashville auditions and at just 16 years old, she’s a spitfire! Her southern drawl is adorable and you couldn’t find a more likable star. She performed “Proud Mary” to prove she could command a stage. The judges gave her a standing ovation, but what is their final judgement? Luke teased by saying they were scared to 16-year olds through, but she is one 16 year old that is going through! Little Layla is in the Top 24!

8:10 p.m. – Next in the hot seat is one of my favorites, Michael J. Woodard. He wasn’t so sure of himself at his first audition, but his solo performance proved to be a turning point in his evolution. At the showcase, Michael admitted that his unexpected song choices make him concerned the judges won’t take him seriously. But regardless, at the showcase he performed a haunting version of Alannis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know.” I love the curve balls he tosses at the judges, not to mention he’s dressed in a jump suit and looks like a mechanic. So, do the judges believe in this off-the-wall dark horse? Yes! Michael is in the Top 24. I look forward to seeing what he does next.

8:15 p.m. – Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to find out if “American Idol’s” most swoon-worthy construction worker, Trevor Holmes, can make good on his love affair with Katy. As he sang “Slow Hands,” Katy was heard saying “I’m over him….maybe not.” Trevor admitted the pressure from Katy is an added challenge, but Katy said she didn’t see the sparkle she needed from him. She then let him down, stating he was not going through. I feel bad for Trevor, because she kind of said it in a sarcastic manner, and he appeared to not be sure if she was joking or not. I wasn’t sure either. Not well played on Katy’s part. That was an insensitive way to crush his dream while continuing to make everything about his journey about her. Oh well, at least we won’t have to hear about her crush on him any longer. Bye Trevor!

8:20 p.m. – Watching Trevor go home sent many contestants into hysterics. Not because they felt bad for him, but because seeing him go home means any of them could be dropped. Gabby Barrett was up next, singing “Church Bells” and looking like a star on stage. It was a risk performing a Carrie Underwood song, but at this point you have to let all the tricks out of the bag. She showed poise and power on stage while impressing the judges. But was it enough? Katy said the beginning of her performance wasn’t good, but she finished strong. Katy told her the showcase was “bad” and she’s “not convinced” of her potential. But Luke told Gabby she’s “next level” and believes she is just what the competition needs. Gabby is in the Top 24!

8:25 p.m. – Hoping for better luck this time is Thaddeus Johnson.  This is the exact round he was cut during Season 9. Now, more confident than ever, Thaddeus thinks everything that has happened in his life led him to this moment. Dressed in a sleek, red velvet jacket, Thaddeus belted out soaring vocals and bared his soul as the judges rose to their feet. At the judging panel, Lionel told him there is so much talent to spread through 24 slots, and now is not the right time. Once again, Thaddeus was cut right before the finish line. Wow! That was heart-wrenching. I feel bad for him.

8:30 p.m. – Up next is Michelle Sussett, who always delivers a fiery performance. With “24K Magic” at the live showcase, she once again she has more energy than anyone in the competition. She’s not the greatest singer, but she definitely has the charisma to become a star. She made the Top 24!

8:40 p.m. – As the live showcases continued, the judges began to feel overwhelmed by the amount of talent in the room. How will they make these difficult choices? Dominique, Trevor McBane, Maddie Poppe, Ron Bultongez and Alyssa Raghu were all sent to the next round! But as the remaining spots begin to disappear, stress gets even higher in the waiting room. But nobody is as nervous as Catie Turner. She certainly brings a unique personality to the season, but are the judges sold on her star power? Katy was nervous about her song choice of “Bad Romance” at the live showcase but Catie put her unique spin on the tune and had the audience smiling. Despite her odd personality, don’t sleep on her vocals! She put some crazy musical inflections into that performance. Katy didn’t love the performance, but she loves Catie and threatened to pull up all of Luke’s worst performances on YouTube to prove not all stars are perfect. “Let’s talk business,” Catie joked as she sat down for judgement. And it’s official! Catie is in the Top 24!

8:45 p.m. – Sadly, not everyone’s story can end happily ever after. Crushing blows were handed down to Milo Sposato, Les Greene, Britney Holmes and William Casanova. But one Jurnee (pun intended) will continue because she has proven throughout each round that she is a star. Jurnee’s wife was able to to get military leave to attend a soul-stirring performance of “Never Enough” that was simply spellbinding to watch and listen to. Jurnee is one of this season’s top contenders to win. What a star!

8:55 p.m. – The next artist whose dream hangs in the balance is Shannon O’Hara. Her family has come upon hard times and is about to lose their home due to her father’s medical bills. Shannon brought Katy to tears by singing her anthem “Unconditionally.” It was an honest, beautifully sung acoustic version that would surely garner the American vote if this were a live performance. She doesn’t have the biggest voice in the competition, but she has heart and a great tone. What is her final judgment? Katy called her a “spiritual ninja” and sent Shannon through to the Top 24! Receiving the same exciting news was Kay Kay, Amelia Hammer Harris and Brandon Diaz.

9:00 p.m. – As the good news continued to pour down the stairs into the holding room, the wait for the remaining contestants became all the more agonizing. Noah Davis, the season’s well-known alpaca enthusiast from Arkansas, performed a shaky version of “You and I.” Honestly, it was kind of terrible. But will his prior performances save him? Katy told him he holds his presence behind the piano so well, but he needs to step into his power. Katy said his journey must continue, but it won’t be on “American Idol” this season. She invited him to try again next year.

9:05 p.m. – Noah wasn’t the only fan favorite sent home today. The judges also said goodbye to Harper Grace, Carly Moffa, Samothias, Lee Vasi and Victoria McQueen.

9:10 p.m. – One of the most controversial contestants this season is next to take the long walk to the judges. Drag Queen Ada Vox performed “Creep” at the showcase. Prior to her performance, the judges were concerned she would pull too many tricks but she simply stood in one place and delivered a fierce vocal that filled the entire room. Her range is insane! The crowd lost its mind and the judges were on their feet. Deciding to show the judges his true self, Ada walked into the final judgment as himself, Adam Sanders. I love that he feels comfortable in his own skin now, but I hope he isn’t afraid to be Ada Vox on live television. Katy asked him if he believes he is good enough to compete as Adam? He said yes. Whether he performs as Ada or Adam, he will be performing in the Top 24! But I want to see Ada in this contest!

9:15 p.m. – Next to learn his fate is fan favorite Jonny Brenns. Jonny sneaked away to audition for the judges without telling his parents, but they are both in the audience to see his showcase tonight. Singing “Lay Me Down,” Jonny showed more vocal prowess than we’ve seen thus far. That being said, he seemed awkward on stage but the young girls in the crowd went wild. Katy was in tears seeing his entire skeptical family in the audience supporting him. Luke told Jonny he had star quality and he’s headed to the Top 24!

9:20 p.m. – The youngest contestant in the competition is the next to sit in the hot seat. 15-year old Mara Justine’s inner superstar was released at the showcase as she commanded the stage with “Something’s Got a Hold On Me.” Katy thinks she needs to tone it down, but Lionel believes she knows exactly who she is. Katy reinforced that there was “too much frosting on this beautiful cake.” That is interesting advice coming from one of the most “frosted” pop singers of this generation. Regardless, Mara is into the Top 24!

9:30 p.m. – Among the contestants awaiting their fate are a few country boys by the names of Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Laine Hardy and Garrett Jacobs. Caleb impressed Katy with his confidence at the showcase and Lionel is convinced they have found a star in him. Caleb was put through to the Top 24, but Laine and Garrett were put in that awkward position of facing the judges together. Is this a case of one person making it through and the other going home? Let’s find out! Garrett turned on his sex appeal at the showcase and showed off some dance moves to “Knock on Wood.” Luke wasn’t impressed with his moves, but Garrett’s grandmother thought he was the sexiest thing out there! Laine was more low key at the showcase singing “The Battle of Curtis Loew” with his guitar in tow. In the end, Garrett advanced to the Top 24 and Laine was eliminated.

9:40 p.m. – Up next, rocker Cade Foehner was hoping to invoke the spirit of the rock Gods at his showcase. Looking confident on stage, Cade whaled away on his guitar while belting out the big notes and swinging around his luscious locks. Will his walk to the judges be a “Stairway to Heaven” or a “Highway to Hell”? Will Cade bring rock music to the “American Idol” stage? Yes! he’s in the Top 24. At this stage, only four contestants are left.

9:53 p.m. – I’m devastated to learn two of my favorite women in the competition are battling for the final female spot in the Top 24. Maddie Zahm was a bit shaky at the showcase with her performance of “What About Us” but I love her anyways! Effie Passero sang “The Dance” as a tribute to her mother. It was solid, but Katy remarked “that was not a kill.” Maddie and Effie both have big voices and neither would be a typical pop star. But which one of these two talented, likable ladies will move on? And which one will be prematurely cut from the competition? At the final judgement, Effie was put through to the Top 24. Sadly, Maddie was sent home in tears. That one stung! Hopefully Maddie will be back next year. She’s only 19 years old.

9:59 p.m. – If that wasn’t heartbreaking enough, now two of my favorite male artists will face off for the final spot in the Top 24. Both of them need this break in their life, but only one of them is about to get it. Single father Marcio Donaldson sang “If You Really Love Me” at his showcase. He has star power and an incredible range, but he doesn’t always deliver consistent vocals. Meanwhile, Dennis Lorenzo looked dapper as he sang “A Song for You.” If I have to choose between these two likable singers, Dennis is the better singer. But I will be sad to see Marcio’s dream get crushed. What do the judges think? Plot twist! There are two spots left and Marcio and Dennis both made it! Happy tears all around! Next week, the Top 24 will perform once again before the judges narrow it down the the Top 14.

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