‘American Idol’ recap: Top 8 become Top 6 on Night 15 of Season 17 [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

The April 28 episode of the ABC revival of “American Idol” will see the Top 8 cut down to the final half dozen artists in contention for the season 17 title. On Queen Night, each of these eight contestants will sing one song from the catalogue of the English rock band and they will join each other in duets on classic movie tunes. At the end of the evening, host Ryan Seacrest will reveal which six number among America’s favorites and will continue on in the competition.

SEE Which of the Top 8 will win ‘American Idol’ in its second season on ABC? [POLL]

The Top 8 finalists were the leading vote-getters after their performances on Disney Night last Sunday: Alejandro Aranda, Laci Kaye Booth, Walker Burroughs, Wade Cota, Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon, Laine Hardy, Alyssa Raghu and Madison VanDenburg.. The other two contestants in the Top 10 — Dimitrius Graham and Uche — were eliminated after judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie opted not to use their one save of the season.

This episode will be seen live nationwide. Everyone from coast to coast can vote for their favorites. At the end of the two-hour telecast, two artists will be eliminated. For those on the west coast who don’t want to watch live, the show will be repeated in its usual 8 p.m. time slot with a warning that voting is closed.

SEE ‘American Idol’ Winners: Where Are They Now (Seasons 1 – 16)?

Below, follow along as we recap all the action on “American Idol” season 17 night 15 in our updating live blog.

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8:00 p.m. – The top eight contestants opened the show with an energetic but brief performance of “We Will Rock You” as the judges entered the theater to celebrate a night of Queen music. Voting is live throughout the episode and two singers will be in danger of elimination by the night’s end. Who will rock us tonight? Who will be heading home? And will the judges use their save? Let’s find out!

8:10 p.m. – Walker Burroughs is tonight’s first performer and he’ll be taking on the fun classic “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” When Walker met tonight’s mentor Adam Lambert for the first time he blurted out, “You look like a pirate!” Sort of an awkward beginning, but Lambert is rocking a new hairstyle I’d compare more to Billy Ray Cyrus than Jack Sparrow. Lambert thinks Walker is awkward, but needs to trust his instincts on stage because it’s charming. Walker begins his performance at the judges’ table and maneuvers his way to the main stage through a series of non-musical yet fun dance moves. More importantly, Walker’s voice remains consistently on pitch and he’s just fun to watch! I don’t think I’m alone in liking Walker more and more each week. This was my favorite performance from him to date! Katy commends him for using “all of his appendages.” Luke says America will fall in love with this performance and Lionel tells Walker to “not think.”

8:20 p.m. – Up next is Madison VanDenburg who is taking on the vocally taxing “The Show Must Go On.” Lambert thinks Madison has an incredible instrument and during rehearsals he says the audience doesn’t even realize how talented she is. He advises her to show more emotion so people don’t think it’s a walk in the park. Be a diva! She begins her performance surrounded by fog to up the dramatics. She sounds beautiful throughout the first verse and that’s one thing I really appreciate about Madison. She doesn’t have to belt at the top of her range to sound good. If there’s any weakness, I agree with Lambert, Madison doesn’t have the strongest stage presence, but it’s a work in progress. Overall, Madison is nailing the performance and although I didn’t get goosebumps or anything, she proved she’s in it to win it tonight! Luke says Madison “just changed the game” and it was her best performance so far. Lionel loved her performance and called her voice “impeccable.” Katy commends how far Madison has come, but demands Madison gives us a hair flip and a foot stomp next week.

8:25 p.m. – We are getting our first movie duet of the night from Laine Hardy and Laci Kaye Booth. They’ll be singing “Jackson” from the film “Walk the Line.” These two actually sang together in Hollywood week, so this is their second collaboration. Will they connect like Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash? Well, first of all I love their dueling guitars for this performance and it’s definitely a fun song! This is the best Laci has been in weeks and Laine sounds great as well. They put any concern they wouldn’t have chemistry to rest and I loved this duo! Lionel said it was the perfect song, look and attitude. Katy jokes that she’s never seen Laine smile that wide before and hints that there may be a little love connection between the two of them.

8:35 p.m. – Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon is intimidated to meet Adam Lambert and he’s also nervous about his upcoming performance of “Who Wants to Live Forever.” Jeremiah’s parents are attending the show for the first time and that is adding some pressure, but frankly, I’m sick of hearing about Jeremiah’s personal business so let’s just get to the performance! I think this is a great song choice for him, although I do think he needs to step out of his comfort zone and eventually do something that’s not a ballad! Lambert doesn’t like Jeremiah’s arrangement and tells him to ditch the guitar. Jeremiah takes the advice and hits the stage with just the microphone and his voice for the performance. I love the drama that this song naturally brings out and he’s doing a great job of conveying the emotion and he’s really nailing the high notes. That was fantastic! His parents are on their feet and looking proud and Katy tells Jeremiah he embodies the spirit of Freddie Mercury. She then commends his parents for showing their support and they sort of glare at her uncomfortably since I’m sure they’re not thrilled with how they’ve been discussed all season long. Luke says Jeremiah continues to spoil us and take us on a journey. Lionel says you can’t teach the ability to draw people in and Jeremiah is doing something powerful. Seacrest gives Jeremiah’s father a chance to comment and says he’s not very objective, he thinks his son is the best one there. It was nice to see that side of his parents because it would be easy to think they’re awful monsters for their initial rejection of their son’s truth. Hopefully they’ve learned something about acceptance in this journey and can take that back to their church members.

8:45 p.m. – I had a feeling Alejandro Aranda would take a Queen classic the acoustic route and that seems to be what he’s doing with “Under Pressure.” He’s scared to change the arrangement of the song because it’s so classic, but Lambert thinks it is cool and it gave him chills. Lambert says that since he’s changing the arrangement so much, stick closer to the melody when singing. I’m immediately relieved when Alejandro begins his performance in his mid-voice because the last two weeks have just been too high for my liking. That being said, I can’t understand a word he’s saying and I’m not sure if he’s doing that on purpose because he has had trouble remembering the lyrics or if it’s just bad enunciation. This was my favorite performance from him in a few weeks, but it’s still a far cry from those early weeks when he was blowing people away. I want to see more of his musical ability with some nice instrumental solos throughout the performance. Luke says he’s heard him sing better before, but he’s so cool it doesn’t matter. Lionel says Alejandro is an artist and an amazing stylist. Katy says Alejandro’s authenticity is the secret sauce, but can also be his worst enemy. Katy thinks he’s handling it well.

8:55 p.m. – Wade Cota and Alyssa Raghu are collaborating next on “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” which has been in a ton of movies, but perhaps most famously in recent years – “Guardians of the Galaxy.” These two are predicted by our Gold Derbyites to be heading home tonight, so this is a pretty unfortunate situation for them to be in if either were hoping to piggyback on a more popular contestants fan base. That said, I think these two are perfect for this song. Wade is giving me that Michael McDonald vibe with those husky vocals and Alyssa’s voice is made for old-school Motown hits. They have almost zero chemistry together on stage, but Wade barely has chemistry with himself when he performs so that’s not a surprise. Anyways, the performance was cute. That’s about it. Lionel liked that they were having fun. Katy tried to compliment them but doesn’t know how many numbers are on a dice and eventually just slides off her chair. Luke didn’t have much to say at that point.

9:05 p.m. – We’re getting right into another duet as Jeremiah and Madison pair up for “A Million Dreams” from “The Greatest Showman.” This is a powerhouse duo if there is one and Bobby Bones expects people to be lying on the floor, crying in the fetal position when they’ve finished. This song is gorgeous and I can’t imagine these two screwing it up and so far, they are doing it justice. They both sound great and it wouldn’t be a shock to see these two in the finale reprising this moment. If I had to choose, Madison slightly outshines Jeremiah here but they were both great. I mean, I didn’t cry or fall into the fetal position, but I was entertained. Katy appreciated how they collaborated without turning it into a vocal showdown. Lionel calls them “the voices” of the season and thought the pairing was unbelievable.

9:10 p.m. – Laine has a bit of a bad boy underneath this All-American persona he puts off an we’ve seen it when he asked who was ready to “party with the Hardy” and we see it again as he coyly tells Lambert he’s singing “Fat Bottomed Girls” tonight. Adam thinks Laine is afraid of his own shadow and if he doesn’t make this a party, it’s not going to work. Laine doesn’t consider himself a rock star and Lambert reminds him that he better start. Laine hits the stage in a glittering, emerald green jacket as if he’s Oz himself. He gives the guitar a few strums before he pulls the mic off the stand and hits the crowd like a true rock star. He maintains his vocals while entertaining the crowd and I’d say Laine is doing what he should with this song. He’s having fun, the crowd is having fun and he even finishes things off with with what I thought was a great guitar solo, but then I realized it was actually someone in the band doing that. Laine was just strumming along. Oh well. Lionel says Lambert was right, Laine is the head cheerleader and if he doesn’t feel it, nobody will. Katy says, “You faked it, you baked it and you shake and baked it!”

9:20 p.m. – Laci Kaye Booth is up next and she’s thrilled to meet Lambert. The minute she began singing, he was enamored with her and thinks her voice is so special. He advises to extend the pauses in her phrasing to make things a little more dramatic. Singing “Love of My Life,” Laci looks absolutely stunning as she just sits on a stool and strums the guitar. She’s been a bit amiss for me the past few weeks and this is the Laci I was missing! Her smokey, sultry vocals are so distinct and she stands out when she’s got a great story to tell. I can tell by her facial expressions and delivery that she is feeling this song. You don’t have to have the best belting voice to stand out – Laci just proved that. That was great! Lionel says she has one heck of a vehicle (her voice) and when he looks at her he thinks, “This could be the star.” Katy says she is sparkling like the diamond they always knew she was. Luke thinks just watching her sell the emotion of a song is one of the best things he’s seen.

9:30 p.m. – I’m interested to see how a duet between Alejandro and Walker goes! They’re collaborating on “Mrs. Robinson” from “The Graduate.” I love this song choice! For the performance, they’re each sitting on stools playing guitar and harmonizing. It’s not exactly exciting to watch, but I think it’s cool to hear them play this in their hideous jackets the wardrobe department put them in. I like this duo together and would have liked to hear even more! Katy says their voices are like two peas in a pod. Luke calls them the savants of the group and enjoyed their creativity. Lionel commented on their psychedelic clothing and says he hopes America votes for both of them.

9:40 p.m. – Wade Cota is taking on the epic anthem “We are the Champions.” Wade has no idea how to move and Lambert says there can be power in “standing and delivering.” He tells Wade to keep the mic in the stand and own it with authority. The performance begins and Wade’s phrasing is totally bizarre. He’s doing this speak-talking thing and sounds like Clint Eastwood auditioning for a musical. This performance is a total abomination. I’m offended. Why are the judges standing at the end? Luke says he missed the lyrics but carried through it perfectly. Luke was impressed with the singing! What?! That was the worst part. Lionel says “you’ve already won.” They keep saying that to everyone. Katy reminds Wade that Adam didn’t win “American Idol” but he still won at life. It sounds like he’s already been kicked off the show by the way they’re critiquing him. Also, I’m certain these judges would all fail a lie detector test if they were wired up during some of these critiques. Wade’s performance was the worst of the night.

9:55 p.m. – Alyssa Raghu is closing the show with “Somebody to Love” and Lambert loves her natural theatricality. Alyssa wants to bring out the soulful rock star in herself, and Lambert tells her there’s nothing wrong with being a diva! She begins her performance in full diva mode, with a nice profile shot as she belts out the opening. Alyssa loves to do her little arm movements and poses, which I actually enjoy about her. Unfortunately, the vocals aren’t exactly shining tonight. This song is a little wordy and she’s sort of losing the musicality. Alyssa has charisma and I think she has star potential, but I just don’t think she has the voice or originality to win this season. Lionel tells her to never lose her determination. Then, Alyssa awkwardly asks for water because her throat is dry. Then, Katy tells her she’s still going through puberty. Alyssa interrupts to say she loves Luke Bryan and she’s stalling so people can have more time to vote for her. This is the most bizarre exchange! Let’s wrap this up. Coming up, two artists could be heading home. I’m predicting Alyssa and Wade will be sent packing. We’ll find out soon!

9:59 p.m. – The Top 6 in order of Seacrest’s live announcement: Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon, Laci Kay Booth, Madison VanDenburg, Laine Hardy, Alejandro Aranda and Wade Cota. Wow! Alyssa and Walker are in danger of going home. Will the judges save either of them? No. Alyssa and Walker have been eliminated. I’m not surprised about Alyssa, but a little shocked to see Walker leaving tonight. Wow! Congrats to the Top 6!

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