At Monday’s “American Idol” Top 8 listening session held at EastWest Studios in Hollywood, judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan told Gold Derby about the one singer they most regret eliminating in Season 17. “I think about Ryan Hammond,” Katy confessed at the intimate “mix and mingle” event for journalists and influencers. “But ultimately it’s a competition and we can only do as best as we can,” she added.
Katy also mentioned past favorites like Season 16’s Effie Passero and this year’s Margie Mays (aka “Burping Girl“) as contestants that she had a tough time cutting from ABC’s reality TV show. “There’s such a big combination of things that have to happen — talent, timing, catching a lucky star,” Katy noted. “So someone like Effie and someone like Ryan and someone like Margie, in two to five years they may reinvent themselves or find their instant identifiable stamp and combine it with their talent in such a way that it becomes this explosive thing. But it’s just so hard getting down to one idol, especially when you have this level of talent.”
Luke agreed that Ryan was “on the bubble” back when he was eliminated following his Top 20 duet of “Hold On, I’m Comin'” with Cynthia Erivo. “But you know, I think in these moments we have to go on, are they making an emotional [pitch]?” Luke asked. “There are millions of great singers out there that can sing, sing, sing, sing, sing. But do they give you chill-bumps? Are they unique? Are they giving you an emotion? Sometimes America may not see that, and sometimes we may not see it, but we’re reacting and acting to the best of our ability.”
Lionel chimed in, “When we started out, there were some that I knew were gonna be like, ‘Oh my God, this is amazing,’ and then the second stage didn’t kick in. Where we are now, I can’t imagine anyone else other than the [Top 8].” After Sunday’s live Disney night episode, only eight finalists remain in the running to be be named the winner of “American Idol” Season 17: Laine Hardy, Madison VanDenburg, Alejandro Aranda, Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon, Laci Kaye Booth, Walker Burroughs, Alyssa Raghu and Wade Cota.
Each of the finalists performed live at the media event, and then the three judges joined Radio Disney’s Morgan Tompkins for a brief Q&A. Among the talking points, Katy explained that her Ursula costume from Disney night was chosen because she likes to “take the road less traveled”; Luke admitted that he never thought he’d get so “invested” in the singers’ success; and Lionel expressed how rewarding it is that he’s now recognized by people of all ages, from young children to their elderly grandparents.
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