Six weeks after the second season of “American Idol” hosted by Ryan Seacrest began on ABC, America finally gets a chance to vote as the Top 14 take to the stage on the April 14 episode. These finalists survived a grueling process that began with winning over the three judges — Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie — at a regional audition and getting a ticket to Hollywood.
A whopping 150 plus would-be winners made the trip to La La Land, before being cut to 40. That group then competed both individually and in groups before the judges decided on the Top 20. This score of artists were then asked to sing both solo and in duets with celebrities and convince the three judges that they deserved a place in the Top 14.
The season 17 finalists are: Alejandro Aranda, Laci Kaye Booth, Walker Burroughs, Evelyn Cormier, Wade Cota, Dimitrius Graham, Laine Hardy, Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon, Ashley Hess, Eddie Island, Uché Ndubizu, Alyssa Raghunandan, Riley Thompson and Madison VanDenburg .
Be sure to make your predictions so that the contestants can see how they’re faring in our racetrack odds. You can keep changing your predictions until just before the next episode airs on ABC. You’ll compete to win a spot on our leaderboard and a $100 Amazon gift card. See our contest rules and sound off with other fans in our reality TV forum. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.
Below, follow along as we recap all the action on “American Idol” season 17 night 12 in our updating live blog.
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8:00 p.m. – The power has finally shifted! The fate of the Top 14 contestants will now depend on whether or not they can inspire scores of fans to vote for them. Who will respond to the pressure of live television? And which artists will fall flat? Tomorrow, the top seven vote-getters will be instantly launched into the Top 10 and then each judge will get to save one more. Let’s get started!
8:10 p.m. – Who’s ready to party with the Hardy??? Laine is still a southern boy at heart, but he’s transformed his style and now chooses to perform classic rock music while dressed in a nice suit. He’s kicking things off tonight with “That’s All Right” by Elvis Presley. With his slicked back dark hair, Laine even resembles The King to some extent and he sounds great. Laine has loosened up quite a bit on stage and his merging of old-school rock with his heartthrob status is genius. Laine brought the energy and the voice tonight, albeit wasn’t the most difficult song vocally. Katy says Laine is playing his strengths and she loves the bayou boy. Luke says Laine’s voice has come a long way since last year and Lionel says, “You were on fire, buddy.”
8:15 p.m. – Up second tonight is Evelyn, who hopes to earn her way into people’s hearts with a performance of “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World. Evelyn has flown under the radar to this point in the competition so I would say this is a make or break moment for her, more so than some of the others. That’s why I was happy to come out showing personality, wearing floral pants and bright pink lip stick while jumping around the stage. It’s nice to see her perform this rock anthem with so much excitement, but I worry it might translate into votes. From what we’ve seen of Evelyn so far, I still feel like I don’t know her. And I was not blown away by the performance, it was just mildly fun. Luke praises Evelyn’s “Van Halen leg kick,” Lionel says this was what show business is all about and Katy loved the song choice.
8:20 p.m. – Alyssa is the third artist performing tonight, and the second who is making a comeback after being cut before this stage last year. The teenager is taking on a killer of a contemporary ballad in “She Used to Be Mine” by Sara Bareilles. This is a great opportunity for Alyssa to prove she’s not just a charismatic performer, but a vocalist worthy of the title. In general this performance is well executed and Alyssa doesn’t take any bad turns. Unfortunately, I was still left wanting more. This song should give me goosebumps if done effectively and Alyssa left me feeling, well, just nice. Lionel says Alyssa is a little better each time she hits the stage, Katy enjoyed how Alyssa played with the dynamics of the song, and Luke advised her to make sure she can keep the audience captivated throughout the entire performance.
8:30 p.m. – Eddie is up next singing “Bennie and the Jets” by Elton John. Eddie has dressed in costume to resemble Sir Elton and that makes this performance feel a little like a shtick to me. Eddie is without an instrument tonight and his vocals are a little shouty at times. In fact, he doesn’t seem too concerned with the vocals at all. He’s more interested and playing up his persona for the audience and I just don’t find him authentic. Katy could feel Eddie’s nerves and wants him to remember he’s a good singer, Luke says he makes everyone smile and Lionel commends his oddball personality and tells him to stay that way.
8:40 p.m. – Riley is bringing a little country to the stage with her rendition of “Suds in a Bucket” by Sara Evans. She may be the youngest artist in the competition, but she loves rockin’ the short shorts and showing off her fun side. Riley has an airy voice and she seems to struggle with some of the lower notes. She looks like she’s having a good time, but I feel like I’m watching someone in a beauty pageant performance more than someone who could transition to the Grammy stage. That was just a little too fluffy for my taste. Luke calls it a great song choice, Lionel says she is crushing it and Katy says Riley keeps growing to the next level. I guess they loved it more than I did!
8:45 p.m. – Wade has had one of the most inspirational stories of the season, escaping an abusive father along with his mother. Tonight the former heavy metal singer is showing off his vocals with “Trouble” by Ray LaMontagne. With guitar in hand, Wade’s husky and recognizable vocals instantly cut through the audience like a knife. Wade’s likable personality and sincere vocal performances are certain to make him one of this season’s front-runners. When he hits the chorus, he does a riff that is almost gospel in flare. I enjoyed his performance. Lionel gives him the nickname “Wade the Hammer” and says he dropped the hammer tonight. Katy says it was an amazing song choice and Luke says he loves how Wade sings with his entire body.
8:55 p.m. – Up next is a make or break performance from Dimitrius. The Baltimore singer had a breakthrough performance last week with Lukas Graham and he’s trying to keep that momentum going singing “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran tonight. He’s a very dramatic performer but I feel like almost every note is off key. There are glimmers of a good voice in there when he belts out the chorus but his falsetto is out of whack. I feel like this was nearly a train wreck for Dimitrius, but the judges give him a standing ovation! My speakers must be different than whatever they heard in the studio. Katy says Dimitrius is a miraculous singer and an incredible artist, Luke advises him on how to use the microphone and Lionel commends his ability to be explosive.
9:05 p.m. – Madison is up next and she’s feeling the pressure of being called the next Kelly Clarkson. Hoping people will see her as her own artist, Madison is singing “Fallin'” by Alicia Keys. Madison is sporting a leather jacket and sitting behind the piano to belt out this classic. In some of the latest rounds, I felt like Madison was starting to fade a bit from her former front-runner status but she appears to be skyrocketing back up the list. She’s nailing this vocal with just enough sass and power and the judges look blown away. Luke says she put herself in contention and Lionel says the crowd going crazy is a testament that she killed it. Katy says they love Kelly Clarkson, but Madison just carved out her own lane.
9:15 p.m. – Jeremiah is next with tonight’s second Elton John song. He will be putting his own spin on “We All Fall In Love Sometimes.” I love that he chose a song that hasn’t been performed countless times in singing competitions and it allows him to make it his own even more. Sitting behind the piano, Jeremiah is hitting some crazy high notes that effortless flow out of him. There’s nobody who sings like Jeremiah in this competition. Lionel was on his feet before the performance even ended and remained there for his critique saying, “You just took an Elton John song, went past Freddie Mercury and just Jeremiah’d the whole thing.” Katy is in tears and calls him a “gift” while Luke says he’s not worthy to judge the performance.
9:25 p.m. – Uche’ is up next and the funk singer is reaching for the stars, taking on “Finesse” by Bruno Mars. Uche’ admits he’s not the best singer in the competition, but says he will always leave everything on the stage. Uche’ begins the song slowly and I have no idea what words he’s singing, but I’ll assume they’re correct. Finally the beat comes in and we get Uche’ in all his glory, strutting around the stage and owning the performance like only he could. The judges are dancing while he performs and Katy nearly loses her composure when Uche’ breaks into his dance routine. Uche’ definitely adds some flare to this season, so I can respect that! Uche’ is overwhelmed by the audience reaction and Katy pretends to need CPR as she falls over the judges’ table. Katy says, “Whatever happens in this competition, just keep swinging. You’re going to hit.” Luke says it was like an opening to the best awards show ever and Lionel calls him a showstopper.
9:35 p.m. – Alejandro is up next and he looks a little nervous on the couch watching all of the other mic-drop performances. Tonight he’s showing off his love for electronic music and putting his unique spin on “Dance” by Drake. Alejandro is at a keyboard mixing up some beats while putting his silky smooth vocals over them. This is definitely a different side of Alejandro, but he remains steady entertaining the audience. This wasn’t as emotional as many of his other performances, but it is a great time to show off this other side of him. It feels like we are watching an artist in concert rather than someone competing on a TV show. Luke says Alejandro can do no wrong, Lionel commends his versatility and Katy admits she just started following him on Instagram.
9:40 p.m. – Ashley is the next to perform, singing “Fix You” by Coldplay. I think it was a wise move for Ashley to stick with what she’s comfortable with for the first live vote. Sitting behind the piano, Ashley belts her heart out, but it isn’t vocally perfect. I like the emotion she sings with, but I’m a little concerned for her at this point. I’m not sure if this is going to stand out. Lionel called her performance “very strong,” Katy compares her to Carole King and Luke loves her style.
9:50 p.m. – Laci is next and she’s keeping things interesting by putting her own spin on the Blink 182 hit “I Miss You.” I love how Laci transforms unconventional songs to suit her style and I think she is a dark horse to steal this competition. There is no gimmick with Laci and she’s able to pull emotions out of a song even without a huge range. The judges are on their feet yet again with Katy saying “You sing timelessly. You are the definition of ‘Idol.'” Lionel says he feels like a parent watching his kid jump out of the nest.
9:59 p.m. Walker is closing out tonight’s show with a performance of “Climb Every Mountain” from “The Sound of Music.” Who would have expected this song from Walker? Walker is standing at the mic in his pink tuxedo like he’s the featured soloist in a church choir. This is definitely a different side of Walker and I think viewers will respond, even if it feels a bit Broadway. He showed a range in vocals I don’t think we’ve heard from him before and the judges are on their feet! Luke calls it one of the most interesting performances he’d seen and says, “Way to roll the dice.” Lionel says Walker’s confidence is going to take him to the next level of his career and Katy is simply exhausted by all of the emotions from tonight’s episode. And that’s a wrap!