The comeback kids from Season 16, Laine Hardy, 18, and Alyssa Raghu, 16, acquitted themselves nicely on the Top 20 episodes this week. They each secured a spot in the Top 14 — when the viewers finally get to decide their fates by voting.
Laine, however, got the coveted closing spot on Sunday’s show, as he performed “The Weight” — the song he sang when the judges encouraged him to audition again when he accompanied a friend on guitar for her try-out. He and his celebrity duet partner, Elle King, didn’t quite connect vocally but he hit the gritty sweet spot in his voice and his sexy businessman attire and slicked-black hair didn’t hurt, either.
Alyssa, on the other hand, kicked off Monday’s episode, as she sung “Issues” with the Grammy-nominated song’s writer, Julia Michaels. Her partner dubbed her “a sultry powerhouse” but Michaels also rightly pointed out that she should focus more on expressing her emotions and not just on her singing. Judge Lionel Richie duly noted that “Raghu brought the sauce!”
But this time around, Laine seems a bit more “in it to win it” than Alyssa. She worked hard to upgrade her stage presence by taking dancing lessons and doing more live shows. The high-schooler even opted to be home-schooled so she could focus more on her singing skills. But Laine seems to be far at ease with his spiffed-up image.
As they reach another hurdle next week when 14 contestants will be whittled down to 10, Laine stands a better chance to continue on, according to 86% of “American Idol” fans who voted in our poll. Here is a sampling of comments that sum up his appeal.