The “American Idol” revival on ABC is following the same format as it did on FOX for 15 seasons. After five episodes focused on auditions, the show shifted to Hollywood week on the March 26 episode. The April 1 installment will continue that part of the process. Expect plenty of fireworks as the three judges — pop princess Katy Perry, country superstar Luke Bryan and Oscar-winning singer/songwriter Lionel Richie — decide which of the hopefuls to take forward in the competition and which will get a farewell hug from host Ryan Seacrest.
Over the course of the three episodes devoted to Hollywood Week the contestants sing in three rounds: lines of 10, groups, and solos. The judges will winnow the list down to 50 who will sing in a showcase set to air on April 2. They will be culled down to two dozen and those Top 24 will be judged on both solo performances and celebrity duets over the course of four episodes starting April 8.
Once the live playoffs of “American Idol” season 16 begin on April 22, 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.
Below, follow along with all the action on the April 1 episode of “American Idol.”
8:05 p.m. – After surviving three rounds of auditions, Hollywood Week now continues with the final solo performances. At the end of the night, the contestants will be split into three rooms while the judges make their final decision. From the original 169 hopefuls that came to Hollywood, only 50 will continue.
8:10 p.m. – The first contestant hoping to earn a spot in the Top 50 is Gabby Barrett, a country-pop artist from Pennsylvania who is hoping to impress the judges with a little bit of soul this round. She’s chosen to sing “Ain’t No Way” by Aretha Franklin, dedicating the performance to her father who has worked tirelessly to support her. I would say Gabby succeeded in showing off a serious set of pipes while keeping it a little bit country and staying true to herself. At just 17 years old, this girl has the total package.
8:12 p.m. – Marcio Donaldson had his infant son in the audience as he belted out another Aretha hit, “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman.” He did exchange the word “man” for “woman,” but it was still an interesting song choice and I’m not sure he truly felt the lyrics. They continue to show his heartwarming story about adopting his child rather than put a spotlight on his singing, which makes me think he could be dropped in heartbreaking fashion before the Top 24.
8:15 p.m. – Some of my other favorites were shown in brief clips throughout the next segment at well. Effie Passero showed off her powerful range on “Alone” by the rock band Heart. Next, Amelia Hammer Harris continued to prove there is no faking great stage presence when made Lionel’s hair stand up with her sexy version of “Feel It Still.” Then, the competition’s most fierce rocker, Cade Foehner, took the same song in a completely different direction and delivered just as successfully. His slowed down version with a guitar solo had all the judges on their feet. “But does he need the feather?” Luke asked about the feather hanging from the guitar.
8:25 p.m. – Harper Grace is one of the competition’s most promising songwriters. She is following up her first audition, “Yard Sale,” with another original song, “Rest in Peace.” Harper’s songwriting is no fluke, she has serious writing chops. She’s giving me a Kesha vibe with this breakup song and the judges all loved it. Two other contestants who impressed the judges with their unique identities were Noah Davis and Catie Turner. Catie is having the time of her life because at school she’s a complete “nobody” and people are actually paying attention to her now. Meanwhile, Noah the alpaca enthusiast has buddied up with Catie and birds of a unique feather are flocking together. Noah was up first with Kelly Clarkson’s “Piece by Piece.” It wasn’t his most polished performance and Luke noticed a significant drop in confidence from his first audition. Catie was next and she wanted to attempt an original song she wrote called “Pity.” Her vocal was gorgeous, but the songwriting could use some fine tuning. Personality-wise, she’s impossible to ignore. I think she nailed it.
8:35 p.m. – Up next, two memorable artists are singing a memorable hit from one of “American Idol’s” most memorable alums: “Home” by Chris Daughtry. Dennis Lorenzo added a smooth, R&B vocal to the rock anthem while Brandon Elder stayed closer to the original. In these performances, which were actually edited together as if it was a Battle on “The Voice,” I have to give the edge to Brandon. It is a rock song after all and Brandon has that gritty rasp that works so well. Next, Maddie Poppe performed an original called “Don’t Ever Let Your Children Grow Up.” Maddie is quickly becoming a front-runner to win for me. She’s just so cool and she is unique without trying too hard. Her original song was gorgeously composed and the lyrics had depth without feeling cheesy. Nailed it! Katy was in tears.
8:50 p.m. – Singing “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross is the fiery Michelle Sussett, but unfortunately her vocals couldn’t come out during rehearsal. Turning to her stage presence, Michelle pushed through the performance and used her infectious personality to make up for sub-par vocals. Despite her struggles, the judges gave her a standing ovation. Up next, a refugee from the Congo who was given a second chance, is hoping to prove Lionel he made a the right choice when he allowed him to go to Hollywood after originally turning him down. Ron Bultongez is singing “Home” by Phillip Phillips. The judges loved his outfit, but once Ron began to sing, they were more impressed with his singing. “It wasn’t perfect,” Katy remarked, but Luke absolutely loved him. Next, Jonny Brenns is hoping to get past insecurities and prove to his family that he could have a career in music. With “I Lived” by OneRepublic, he honestly kind of bombed. The judges laughed it off, but I’m not sure why. The performance was terrible.
9:00 p.m. – Next to completely bomb her solo performance was Crystal Alicea singing “Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele. She has no experience, and is learning as she goes so I respect her for that, but she just isn’t ready for prime time. She choked during the group performance and this is now the second time in a row she underwhelmed. How many times can the judges give her a pass? Waiting in the wings is a much more confident singer, Deonte Baker. Honestly, the guy is totally full of himself but doesn’t realize how off-putting it is. Anyways, the reality is that the man has a fantastic voice. Singing “Too Good at Goodbyes,” he floored the judges with his gritty, soulful voice. At least he can back up his cocky attitude, but it’s still annoying to hear him talk about himself.
9:10 p.m. – Early favorites Jurnee, Trevor Holmes, and Maddie Zahm were the next trio showcased. Vocally, Maddie was as impressive as ever, but Katy is frustrated that she holds back. Trevor was still swoon-worthy and Katy was still playing up her crush on him. It’s getting a little old at this point. Let’s move on!
9:15 p.m. – The final round in Hollywood continued with 17-year old Shannon O’Hara. It took her about an hour to figure how to connect her microphone, so luckily her rendition of “Up to the Mountain” was well worth the wait. She’s not a perfect singer, but she has grown throughout the competition at a rate the judges should be excited by. She’s the type of raw talent that makes “American Idol” stand out from other competitions. Fellow teenager Genavieve Linkowski hoped to prove to all nine of her siblings that following your dreams pay off. Unfortunately, her rendition of “Praying” by Kesha was in tune about zero percent of the performance. That was rough to watch! She doesn’t appear to be aware of how bad it was.
9:20 p.m. – Another of this season’s heartthrobs, Garrett Jacobs could barely speak, was determined to impress the judges with “Wicked Games” by Chris Isaac, Miraculously, his singing voice is in much better shape than his speaking voice at this point. He’s even better than I remembered from his first audition, which was just okay. The judges seem concerned about his voice though and may give him the ax.
9:25 p.m. – Britney Holmes was originally cut after her first audition, but won the chance to come back from America’s vote. Now, the pressure is on and she’s been able to last through two rounds of Hollywood week. Hoping to prove to the judges that America chose the right person to return, she’s singing “Dive.” Confident, soulful and vocally on point, Britney delivered one of the more solid performances of the night. Next, Gabbii Jones, who I was originally a fan of, totally fell apart. I’m not sure if her voice just couldn’t handle the pressures of Hollywood week, but there was nothing redeeming about her final solo performance.
9:30 p.m. – Thaddeus Johnson is singing “Rise” by Katy and hopes to make her feel as though she wrote the song specifically for him. Thaddeus has a big, powerful voice and the soul he injects into this song is spine-tingling. His goal was met when Katy stood, applauded and said “That’s how you do my song. Better than I do my song.”
9:40 p.m. – Laine Hardy was one of the judge’s favorite auditions this season, his solo performance of “Fire Away” by Chris Stapleton failed to live up to the hype. Katy felt the teenager needed to loosen up, while Lionel and Luke seemed concerned his voice could never withstand the pressures of a tour. Up next is the purest country voice of the season: Caleb Lee Hutchinson. Luke says his vocals “feel real” and Lionel and Katy were all smiles following his performance.
9:50 p.m. – After an incredible day of performances, only one artist remains: Michael J. Woodard. The quirky amateur works at a bowling alley and has no professional singing experience. He is singing “Maybe This Time” from the Broadway musical “Cabaret” to prove to the judges he is meant for show business. This performance is so weird in such a perfect way! There’s something so innocent and refreshing about how he performs and he represents everything this show is about. I loved that performance and it was probably my favorite of the night. Bravo! The judges gave him a standing ovation and asked “Where did HE come from?”
9:59 p.m. – 77 singers are hoping to make this last cut during Hollywood week. The judges are hoping to narrow it down to the Top 50 before revealing the Top 24 tomorrow night. With their decisions locked in, the judges divide the contestants into three different rooms. Having no idea of their fate, tensions are at an all time high. Having looked at the talent in each of the three rooms, I’d say Room 2 looks like the group about to hear bad news. Just to torture the contestants for their own amusement, producers pull Thaddeus out of Room 1 and move him to Room 3. That made everyone paranoid and tears began to flow. Finally Katy informs Room 1 they made the cut. As I expected, Room 2 was eliminated. The room included Brandon Elder, Gabbii Jones, Genavieve Linkowski, Deonte Baker and Crystal Alicea. Obviously they were crushed. Luckily the judges were able to go make themselves feel better by delivering favorable news to Room 3. That’s a wrap for tonight! Tomorrow the Top 24 will be revealed.