‘American Idol’ recap: Top 24 perform on Night 9 of Season 16 [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

On the April 2 episode of “American Idol,” the 50 contestants to survive Hollywood Week were whittled down to less than half that when Ryan Seacrest revealed the Top 24. As with the FOX version that ran for 15 seasons, this revival on ABC will now showcase these two dozen would-be winners in both solo performances and celebrity duets.

SEE ‘American Idol’ spoilers: Which 14 of the Top 24 make it to the season 16 live shows that start April 22?

Over the course of four episodes that start April 8, the three judges — – pop princess Katy Perry, country superstar Luke Bryan and Oscar-winning singer/songwriter Lionel Richie — will cut 10 of these from this roster. The Top 14 artists will contend 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 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.

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

Below, follow along with all the action on the April 8 episode of “American Idol.”

8:00 p.m. – For the next two weeks, 24 aspiring artists will compete for the chance to sing for America’s vote. Tonight, the first 12 artists will give a solo performance and tomorrow they will be joined by a celebrity duet partner. The guest mentor for this round of the competition is radio personality Bobby Bones. Let’s get started!

8:10 p.m. – The first performer is already giving up superstar vibes by the fact that he only goes by one name: Dominique. He is singing Chaka Khan’s classic “Ain’t Nobody.” He seems at ease on the stage and moves effortlessly through powerful belts and dynamic falsetto notes. I’m not sure Dominique has the “IT factor” it takes to be a star, but the judges jumped to their feet after his performance. Katy said, “Wow! Dominique, you have arrived!” Lionel said he gave a “star attraction performance.” Luke mentioned that Dominique has always shown his sexy side, but it was a pleasant surprise to see a new, fun side of him. Personally, I think Dominique is a good singer but I’m not certain he will advance beyond tonight.

SEE ‘American Idol’ season 16 spoilers: Seven Group 1 singers to make Top 14 are …

8:15 p.m. – Layla Spring is up next and Bobby instructed her not to lose the “kid inside” because that is what makes her so endearing. Layla was then surprised by one of her idol’s via Facetime, Season 10’s Lauren Alaina. For her song, Layla chose the Martina McBride power ballad, “A Broken Wing.” This song has been done countless times on this series over the years, but Layla definitely delivered one of the better versions. She powered her way through the chorus until all three judges were on their feet. “It’s one thing to take our advice, it’s another thing to do it. You did it!” exclaimed Lionel. Katy is impressed at the way Layla has grown since they first met her. Luke complimented her infectious personality and said she is mature beyond her years. Layla’s speaking voice is just as entertaining as her singing voice as she describes some local Kentucky grub to Ryan. I can’t imagine her not making the Top 14.

8:25 p.m. – If “American Idol” was a personality contest, Ryan seems to think we may already have our winner in Catie Turner. Watching her interact with Bobby is hilarious as she swoons over the fact he has met Harry Styles. Catie swears she is taking the competition seriously, despite all of the jokes. Refusing to box herself in, Catie is singing “Call Me” by Blondie. She looks like she’s wearing a dress from the Laura Ingalls collection, matched with knee-high pink boots – but it somehow works for her! This song doesn’t totally show her vocal prowess, but dang she’s entertaining. Luke said he can’t wait to see what she’s going to next. Katy said “what a cool song choice and an incredible presentation. I love who you are. Never change.” Lionel agrees that Catie is special and said she has made them all believers in her. He also loved her hair flip – and I love Lionel’s critiques. I will be shocked and disappointed if Catie doesn’t continue in this contest.

PHOTOS ‘American Idol’ Season 16: Top 14 Finalists

8:35 p.m. – The next contestant made a huge impact on the judges during his first audition and is hoping to re-create the magic tonight. Dennis Lorenzo can barely fathom the fact that he’s in the Top 24. His father was murdered in the streets of Philadelphia when Dennis was just five years old. Bobby told him to use his past hardships to motivate him to succeed. For his song, Dennis is giving us a reggae vibe with “Rude” by Magic! I love Dennis’ comfort on the stage and he looks like he could be a star, but his performance was too low key for someone fighting for their life in this competition. “It wasn’t one of those songs that showed off how well you can sing,” said Katy. Lionel mentioned there are things about Dennis that bug him. Lionel wants Dennis to stop messing around with the microphone stand and make better song choices. Luke believes Dennis is a natural star and conducts himself on stage as such. Based on this performance, Dennis may struggle to reach the next round.

8:45 p.m. – Next up to try to impress the judges in both Spanish and English is Michelle Sussett. She grew up in Venezuela and has not seen her mother, who continues to reside there, in over three years. Hoping to prove she’s this season’s top entertainer, Michelle is taking on Beyonce’s “If I Were a Boy.” I think this is a great song choice for her because although we know she can dance, we haven’t heard much of her voice. While I credit Michelle for her unique interpretation of this song, she really struggled vocally. Lionel loves Michelle’s stage presence and believes she’s a superstar. Katy loves Michelle’s bilingual performances, but believes she could show off her vocals more. Luke enjoys her unique tone. I’d be more blunt and say that Michelle is a fun performer, but that was a train wreck of a vocal. I would eliminate her based on that.

8:55 p.m. – Midway through tonight’s episode, Michael J. Woodard is set to perform. Michael is such an oddball and admits to being a Momma’s boy who calls his mother 20 times per day. What I like best about Michael are his unique song choices. Bobby said it’s great to go with the unexpected, but make sure the audience knows what type of artist you are. Tonight, Michael is singing “Golden Numbers” by The Beatles. Something about this guy just screams SUPERSTAR to me. He isn’t trying to do anything over the top, but it doesn’t matter. It’s his simplest movements on stage and the pure intent behind his vocals. Luke tells the audience “we love this human being right here.” Katy said Micheal is “chosen” and “meant to be here.” Lionel compared Michael to a genie in a bottle. “I thought I knew all of the people inside of you. And now you come with this!” If Michael doesn’t make the Top 14 the judges are insane!

9:05 p.m. The man in black, Trevor McBane, is next and explains that part of his looks comes from the pain of losing his father at a young age. He has mourned, had struggles and overcame them. Bobby told Trevor not to be afraid to let things get emotional on stage. He is performing “Way Down We Go” by Kaleo. Trevor sounds much like you would expect by looking at him. His voice is deep, gravely and haunting. Despite his rich vocals, he struggles a bit with his pitch. It was a solid, yet forgettable performance. Katy said “It’s hard to contain you. I want to see you blow a little bit.” Lionel said he needs to show “concentration with relaxation” and let things flow. Luke said Trevor needs to “release the reigns and turn the horses loose.”

9:15 p.m. – Next to perform is Jonny Brenns, who has not always had the support of his family while pursuing a music career. Although his family attended his last performance, he still feels like he has more to prove to them. He will be singing “Georgia” by Vance Joy. I like this song choice for Jonny because it helps me imagine what kind of album he would record. He’s got a nice pop voice although he’s a bit awkward on stage. That being said, girls in the audience seem to be eating this up! Overall, I’d say Jonny was in the top tier of performers tonight. Lionel asked Jonny, “Am I sensing the sexy coming out? You just have to get comfortable in your own skin.” Katy has believed in Jonny since Day One and said his song choice was perfect. Luke said Jonny is a big star he just doesn’t know it yet.

9:25 p.m. – Up next is Kay Kay, an artist I’m interested in watching because we’ve barely seen her throughout the audition process. In fact, I have no idea what she sounds like. Bobby said the judges think Kay Kay isn’t “letting them in” to her performances, so he shows her a video clip of Idol’s most soulful winner, Fantasia, to inspire her. For her performance, Kay Kay is singing “Love on the Brain” by Rihanna. This song is so fantastic that she wins points just for choosing it. Like Bobby said earlier though, I feel totally disconnected from this performance. It feels like she is trying to put in soulful frills but it is completely unnatural. I’m shocked to see the judges on their feet because I feel that performance was a major letdown. Luke said “A star is born.” Katy thinks tonight the full package has finally arrived and Kay Kay turned an important corner today.” Lastly, Lionel said she has great poise and he can’t imagine where she will take them in the future.

9:35 p.m. – The next artist to perform is Brandon Diaz, who is bravely taking on Lionel’s biggest hit “Hello.” Brandon is a huge fan of Lionel’s and is extremely nervous to perform in front of the judge. Bobby instructs Brandon not to take creative liberties too far, but ensure he adds his own flare. Brandon begins to sing and I’m immediately impressed with his haunting interpretation. He has a great tone to his voice, but does waver off pitch at times. Unfortunately, this was a bit of a bust for me. Katy said he landed somewhere in between a blessing and a curse. Lionel admitted to being nervous for Brandon and wished he could have owned it more. In my opinion, this performance absolutely paled in comparison to Season 7 champ David Cook’s performance during his run to the winner’s circle. But after all the critique, Lionel hopped on stage to sing the song himself with Brandon and Seacrest! Katy and Luke danced along. I have to say, Seacrest only sang one line but he hit those notes!

9:50 p.m. The second female country artist of the night, Gabby Barrett is set to perform next. Bobby made a dream come true for her by putting her on a phone call with country superstar Kelsea Ballerini. For her performance, Gabby took on Maren Morris’ “I Could Use a Love Song.” She gave a scorching vocal of the country tune and brought the judges to their feet. Lionel said Gabby needs to give more personality throughout the whole song and not just save it for the end. Katy said it went from 0 to 100 real quick at the end and agrees with Lionel she should rev things up slowly. Luke said she has the shine, the sparkle and the ability to save that big note for the end.

9:59 p.m. – It’s time for the final contestant of the night! The rocker with incredible hair, Cade Foehner, picked up a guitar after injuring himself on a horse as a child. From there, a love story with music has evolved and Cade is now the face of Rock ‘n Roll on “American Idol” this season. Is he confident? Yes, in fact, Cade said he thinks he can win this thing. With Jimi Hendrix’s “All Along The Watchtower,” Cade made it immediately apparent that his goals aren’t too far fetched. His graveled voice was on fire as he slayed on the guitar, hair whips and all. It was a superstar performance for the young hopeful. Katy was absolutely flustered and made a spectacle as she fan-girled. Lionel said Cade has “got it,” while Luke gave a simple “Good job!” to close the show. Tomorrow night, the twelve contestants will hit the stage again for special celebrity duet performances.

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