Last week (April 8, 9), we saw the first half of the Top 24 on “American Idol” competing for places in the Top 14 who get to sing on the live shows that kick off on April 22. This week, it is the turn of the remaining 12 artists. On Sunday’s show, they will sing solo while Monday will see them partnered with celebrities for duets.
The three judges — country superstar Luke Bryan, pop princess Katy Perry and Oscar-winning singer/songwriter Lionel Richie — will decide which seven of these hopefuls will join those chosen last weekend. They were: Gabby Barrett, Jonny Brenns, Cade Foehner, Dennis Lorenzo, Michelle Sussett, Catie Turner and Michael J. Woodard. (Of the five singers who didn’t make the cut, be sure to vote in our poll to let us know who YOU think was robbed.)
Once these 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.
Below, follow along with all the action on the April 15 episode of “American Idol.”
8:00 p.m. – Last week 12 contestants left it all on the stage, while seven impressed the judges enough to move on to the Top 14. This week, who will join them? Mentor Bobby Bones is back to advise the contestants and help them develop their best performance possible. Let’s get started!
8:10 p.m. – First up is an artist Katy described as a “Top 10” at her audition, Amelia Hammer Harris. Bobby is helping Amelia to become more comfortable showing her personality so it is up to par with her incredible sense of style. When she begins her performance of “Believer” by Imagine Dragons, I immediately notice she looks like a star. She’s got a great presence, but this is a terrible song choice for her. I get no sense of who she is as an artist and this is not something I would want to watch her perform in concert. Katy said she hopes to see “all the shades Amelia is throughout the competition.” Perhaps that means she will continue? Lionel loves that he can sense the experience she has. Luke felt like she was chasing the song a bit. I agree. Amelia was one of my favorites during the early rounds, but this left much to be desired.
8:15 p.m. – Next up: Garrett Jacobs is used to making connections on the football field, but will he score with the judges tonight? Bobby confronted Garret about his terrible dance moves. He instructs him to watch recordings of his previous performances so he can correct the mistakes. Dance class ensues. Garrett will be singing “Treat You Better” by Shawn Mendes. He has that look that teenage girls will go gaga over. He also has a falsetto that is painfully off the mark. He severely missed the high note in this song. Luke said Garrett is not the best singer in the competition, he’s just a heartthrob. Lionel applauded his sexiness. Katy said Garrett is fun to watch, but he needs to let things “flow.” It sounds like it will be a struggle for Garrett to progress beyond this week.
8:25 p.m. – Next to hit the stage is Maddie Poppe, who admits she doesn’t let herself dream big because she doesn’t want to feel disappointed. Bobby told her if she doesn’t dream big, she will never achieve her goals. For her performance, she’s singing “Brand New Key” by Melanie. What a refreshing voice! Her ability to navigate this odd song is brilliant. This was definitely the best so far. I’m shocked to hear she only had a goal of making the Top 24 because she has the potential to go far beyond that. Luke said her performance made him want to go skipping down a beach and that she’s all-American. Katy said Maddie is infectious and knows who she is as an artist. Lionel said she has the look, the sound and the attitude it takes. I loved her sound and thought she was effortless.
8:35 p.m. – Next up, still on a high from an incredible showcase performance is Ada Vox. Ada admits his drag persona was built as a safety blanket, but hopes viewers don’t see it as a shtick. Singing “Feeling Good,” Ada shows off a sexy, jazzy side with incredible vocal runs. One thing is for sure, Ada may get headlines for being a drag queen, but this is one of the best vocalists of the season. Halfway through the performance, Katy leaped to her feet with excitement before bowing down to Ada at the end. Ada is a fun performer to watch and this is such a great time to have a performer like this on “American Idol.” Katy said “Ada, you are here to win.” Lionel said initially he didn’t know how Ada would fit into this show, but his talent is so big it forced them to add something new to the equation. Luke said Ada brings the house down EVERY. TIME. Bravo! The judges would be foolish not to move Ada to the next round.
8:45 p.m. – Georgia boy Caleb Lee Hutchinson is next on deck, stating his favorite Idol is Season 10 winner Scotty McReery. Scotty showed up to surprise Caleb and told him to enjoy the ride and even joked about their similar styles. Caleb is singing “Die a Happy Man” by Thomas Rhett. Caleb has the purest country voice this season and I like how easily he navigates each song he sings. He doesn’t try any theatrics, he simply relies on his tone and ability to tell a story. Lionel says Caleb’s voice has a crystal clear identity and he’s “simple and solid.” Katy said his voice is timeless and holds so much wisdom for being just 19 years old. Luke is more critical of the country genre and didn’t think Caleb chose the right song and thought there were some pitch problems.
8:55 p.m. – Next up is Effie Passero, the California girl who is grateful for this moment in her life. This experience has been a door opening not only for her career, but her relationship with her mother. Effie came out swinging with “Barracuda” by Heart. Within mere bars of the song, Katy’s jaw nearly hit the floor as Effie’s vocals soared over the powerful rock track. Showing confidence and poise, Effie absolutely rocked the house! Luke said Effie doesn’t command the stage like a superstar, but she’s one of the best singers they have. Lionel said he notices that Effie isn’t “wishing and hoping anymore.” She’s taking advantage of the moment and enjoying the ride. Effie is one of my favorites this season so I hope she goes through.
9:05 p.m. – Alyssa Raghu is a 16-year old who has had a bit of a bumpy road thus far in the competition. Determined to show the judges she has what it takes, she will be performing “Stay” by Rihanna. Bobby helped Alyssa work on her stage presence with some runway lessons. Alyssa opened her performance with one of my pet peeves, asking the audience “How are you doing tonight?” They’re not going to answer so don’t ask. Back to the performance, Alyssa is able to competently work through this song, but I don’t feel any star power from her. She hits the right notes, but I feel nothing. The judges look far more impressed than myself. Luke admits he wasn’t much of a fan of Alyssa until tonight, but Katy has championed her along. Katy said Alyssa is just figuring out how to work a crowd and she’s young. Then Lionel made some weird comment about chickens. Let’s move on.
9:15 p.m. – Next up is Marcio Donaldson, who had one of the most emotional auditions of the season. Bobby gives the young hopeful some tips on how to manage his social media accounts. The guy doesn’t even have a profile picture! I respect Marcio’s neglect of Instagram. For his performance, Marcio is singing “Inseparable” by Natalie Cole. His voice is like velvet on this song and it’s the best I’ve heard him to date. He’s great at emoting and the passion pours out of him. When he took his range to the bottom of his register, Katy jumped up and ran around in a circle. Immediately following his performance, Marcio burst into tears. Gather yourself Marcio. Lionel said “Natalie was watching over you on that song.” He then said, after that performance, Marcio can stand tall and proud. Katy said she is so impressed and proud of him and he can do no wrong. Luke said he just delivered a “world class performance.” The judges then all bum-rushed the stage to hug him. I’m gonna wager Marcio will be advancing this week.
9:25 p.m. – The season’s youngest contestant, Mara Justine, is up next and getting some advice about appropriate stage antics. Apparently she’s addicted to flipping her hair. Bobby instructs her to control the passion so when she lets it out it means more. Mara is singing “Run to You” by Whitney Houston. Yikes! As Mara began to sing, I was actually shocked at how good she sounded. Whitney is no easy feat, let alone for a teenager. Mara has a beautiful voice, but sure enough, as she hit the powerful chorus it just became too much for her. Luke said they are spellbound and then began to mumble before Lionel finished his sentences for him. Katy said Mara has taken their advice and shown everyone a raw, beautiful performance. Lionel said sometimes when singers stand still, the audience will come to them. That’s what Mara did tonight. In my opinion Mara is cute, but I really won’t be bothered whether she stays or goes.
9:35 p.m. – My favorite female contestant throughout the early rounds was Jurnee. She’s just 18 years old, married and carries herself with such confidence. The self-described “weirdo” hopes she can inspire young girls to be themselves wither her performance of “Flashlight” by Jessie J. This girl is stunning and looks more like a star than anyone this season. Her tone is warm and she has great presence, but the beginning of this song doesn’t allow her to do much. I hated this song choice, but I still love her! Katy says Jurnee can sing circles around everyone but needs to sing something that brings people to their knees. Lionel said she’s talented beyond her age, but needs some attitude. Luke said she makes it look so easy that people not appreciate how great she is.
9:45 p.m. – Shannon O’Hara is next, admitting she’s nervous to meet Bobby. Honestly, I’ve never heard of him before this. Is he famous? She’s singing “All I Ask” by Adele. She feels “American Idol” is her one shot to help her family, who has been living paycheck to paycheck while her father is in bad health. She’s just 17 years old and Bobby told her to stop putting pressure on herself and enjoy the experience. Shannon looks elegant for this performance, but Adele is such a huge star right now, it’s difficult to not compare them directly. Shannon is a solid singer, but she’s not Adele and she’s singing this song as if she is. Note for note. Despite my “Negative Nancy” comments, the judges look impressed. Lionel thought she did a great job. Then Luke said she did a great job. Ugh. Poor Luke. He’s still learning how to do this judging thing. Katy felt it was a great song choice and loves Shannon’s versatility.
9:59 p.m. – Ron Bultongez has chosen to sing”Dancing On My Own” by Robyn. As the last performer of the night, let’s hope he delivers! Bobby tells Ron that he needs to smile more, but Ron says he struggles with showing his emotion and compares himself to Kanye West. When the performance begins, Ron looks absolutely terrified. Katy looks terrified for him. That being said, I love something about his version of this song. It’s almost like a rock ballad. Luke said Ron’s annunciation isn’t perfect, but he feels his emotion. Lionel said a lot of people would have given up, but Ron continues to prove how badly he wants this. Katy said she can feel his nerves and she hates that because everyone else believes in him. She told him if he “owns it” during his duet it will be the move he needs to make.
10:00 p.m. – Based on tonight’s performances, I would choose these as the Top 7 of the night, in no particular order: Maddie, Ada, Caleb, Effie, Marcio, Jurnee and Ron. But tomorrow the contestants have another shot when they duet with superstar partners for another chance to impress the judges. Then we will find out who rounds out the Top 14.