‘American Idol’ recap: Top 20 sing for America’s votes on Night 13 of Season 18 [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

Ten weeks after the third season of “American Idol” hosted by Ryan Seacrest began on ABC, America finally gets a chance to vote as the Top 20 perform on the April 26 episode. As the coronavirus caused the cancellation of the live shows at the studio,  the contestants will be performing from their homes. This change in venue means they will have to shine vocally, instead of relying on the production values and the live audience to stand out from their competition.

The three judges — Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie — will weigh in with their thoughts from the comfort of their homes. To date, they have been the ones who decided who went forward in the competition, handing out golden tickets to Hollywood to more than 15o contestants.  These would-be winners then competed both individually and in groups before the judges decided on the Top 40. In turn, this two score of talent travelled to Hawaii, where the trio of judges cut them in half.

SEE ‘American Idol’ Top 20: How to vote for your favorite artist of Season 18 on ABC

The season 18 Top 20 finalists are: Faith Becnal, Franklin Boone, Dewayne Crocker, Jr., Samantha Diaz (“Just Sam”), Cyniah Elise, Kimmy Gabriela, Julia Gargano, Arthur Gunn, Aliana Jester, Dillon James, Louis Knight, Grace Leer, Francisco Martin, Nick Merico, Makayla Phillips, Lauren Spencer Smith, Sophia Wackerman, Jovin Webb, Jonny West and Olivia Ximines.

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.

SEE ‘American Idol’ Winners: Where Are They Now (Seasons 1 – 17)?

Below, follow along as we recap all the action on “American Idol” season 18 night 13 in our updating live blog.

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8:00 p.m. — They say “the show must go on,” and that’s just what is happening on “American Idol” this season. The Top 20 will make “Idol” history by using groundbreaking technology to compete from all over the country. Ryan, Lionel and Luke await Katy who finally arrives dressed as a hand sanitizer bottle. Would you expect anything less? Let’s get started!

8:10 p.m. — Kicking things off from Lakeland, Florida is Kimmy Gabriela singing “Leave My Lonely” by Ariana Grande and Macy Gray. It’s interesting to see her belting this out in her backyard with so many houses in close proximity. I keep waiting for a neighbor to pass by, but they must have been politely asked to stay inside. Kimmy sounds good, but I’m not sure this was the most captivating song choice she could have sung in this situation. Katy thinks Kimmy has evolved as an artist and showed growth through her stage presence. Luke is impressed how well Kimmy navigates between notes and calls her a world class singer. Lionel loves her attitude and says she kept him on the edge of his seat when he sings.

8:15 p.m. — Next we head over to the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge, Louisiana with Jovin Webb. He’s singing “With a Little Help From My Friends” by Joe Cocker. Jovin is such a charismatic performer, he is one I worried would suffer without a live audience. But he doesn’t disappoint and just shreds the vocals on this performance and nails it. It would have likely been more magical with a crowd cheering him on, but this will do. Luke calls him a “very special talent,” Lionel says he has “instant identity” with his sound and Katy thought he separated himself from the pack. Jovin is definitely one of my favorites this season!

8:20 p.m.Franklin Boone is up next singing “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears For Fears in North Carolina. He’s got a really soothing, cool voice that lends itself well to this alternative rock sound. He’s got a slew of family members holding up signs for him as a mini fan base around his house. Luke and Lionel give him a virtual standing ovation and Lionel says he loves Franklin’s voice. Katy starts tearing up and said she feels ridiculous as a crying hand sanitizer.

8:25 p.m.Olivia Ximines is up next, coming to us from her home in California. This young lady is known for her showmanship and she’s not about to let a lack of staging stop her. She’s giving her all singing “Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish in front of the family fireplace and she sounds good. Katy loved that she got to hear the quality of Olivia’s voice with this performance. Luke appreciates how Olivia brings the fun and Lionel thinks she has everything it takes to be a superstar.

8:30 p.m. — Next we head outside of Philly to see Louis Knight performing “If the World Was Ending” by JP Saxe and Julia Michaels. This is the most low key performance so far, but he’s putting his heart into it. I think he’s doing a great job of conveying his emotions with this song, I just don’t like the song. Luke loved the song choice, so what do I know? Lionel say Louis’ voice was stellar and Katy is the only one to give any critique, calling his vocals a bit nasally at times.

8:35 p.m. — Down in Florida it’s time to hear Makayla Phillips performing “Greedy” by Ariana Grande. Makayla already draws so many comparisons to Ariana, I wouldn’t have chosen this song for her. Nonetheless, she’s clearly familiar with the song and I don’t think anyone has looked more comfortable performing for nobody thus far. Makayla definitely has star quality. Lionel says it was about as professional as it can get. Katy said it looked so natural to see Makayla singing this way, but didn’t necessarily love the song choice.

8:45 p.m. — Also in Florida is Aliana Jester, coming to us live from her garage singing “Run to You” by Whitney Houston. This is a bold choice considering Lionel has directly compared her to the legendary diva. This song is a tour de force and I give Aliana credit for not just mimicking everything Houston did with the song. That said, I wasn’t blown away. Katy says she couldn’t sing it as well as Aliana just did, but she’d like to hear her lean in a little more. Luke had goosebumps from the second she started and Lionel gave her credit for making it her own.

8:50 p.m. — With another garage performance is Faith Becnel, singing “River” by Bishop Briggs. I love the gritty texture of voice and I think she chose a great song. Faith wasn’t necessarily a standout through the audition process, but I think she is definitely shining tonight. She nailed it! Katy gasps, simply saying “Amaze!” Lionel loved the delivery and Luke says little miss personality just showed us she can sing some big time notes.

8:55 p.m. — Coming straight from Woodland Hills, California, Nick Merico is up next singing “Hey There Delilah” by the Plain White T’s. Nick is giving a reserved performance at his keyboard and he is another contestant I think this format really works for. He doesn’t have the most powerful voice, so having this reserved setting allows him to show his emotion as he stares into the camera for everyone to swoon. Lionel loved the performance, Luke would like to hear him dig in a bit more and Katy appreciated hearing the subtlety of his voice. It was definitely one of Nick’s best performances.

9:00 p.m. — Now it’s time for 16-year old viral sensation, Lauren Spencer-Smith. She definitely wins the award for best backdrop as she sings “Mamma Knows Best” by Jessie J in front of a lake surrounded by mountains. Lauren is bringing it tonight! I was wondering if anyone would be able to truly elevate their game with these remote performances, but Lauren is still pulling off a showstopper! She owned this performance and sounds great. Katy thinks Lauren sounded great and managed to continue to grow as a star. Luke says Lauren’s voice continues to improve and Lionel says her attitude was on point.

9:05 p.m.Cyniah Elise is up next, singing “Warrior” by Demi Lovato from her home in Georgia. Cyniah has such control of her voice and she’s putting those subtleties on display as she perfectly modulates into the chorus of this song. She’s got one of the most powerful voices this season and I think this performance would have been helped by a live audience. Luke says she is one of the best singers in the group, but needs to focus on connecting to the audience. Lionel says she makes it look effortless and says she has “the voice of life.” Katy tells her to work the camera like she works the mirror at home.

9:10 p.m. — We move immediately to Francisco Martin singing from his home in San Francisco, playing it cute for one judge as he performs “Teenage Dream” by Katy. He begins things acoustically before some more sound technology kicks in and I think he sounds great. These toned down performances seem to work a little better in this situation and I think he nailed it. Katy thought it really worked and says he did her song justice. Luke thinks Francisco has the magic and Lionel says he made it his own.

9:15 p.m.Sophia James is joining us from her California den singing “Burning” by Maggie Rogers and she wisely plays keyboard to give the performance more depth as a fire burns behind her in the fireplace. She’s hitting all the notes and there’s some nice energy behind it, but it left me a bit cold. Katy called it pleasing to hear, Luke says she’s “sneaky good” but it’s distracting to see her look down at the notes when she plays piano and Lionel says she can melt hearts when she looks into the camera.

9:20 p.m.DeWayne Crocker, Jr. is another California native bringing us into his living room with “I Got You (I Feel Good)” by James Brown. I think he’s one of the best singers in this competition, but I can’t be the only one distracted by the Christmas tree behind him. This song suits him, but it’s not right for a virtual performance. If he would have toned it down and really belted out a ballad, I think he would have won more people over because his voice is crazy. Luke calls out an impressive run, but thought it was a little too smooth for a James Brown song. Lionel wants DeWayne to let himself go a little more and Katy hoped it would be “dirtier” as well.

9:30 p.m.Dillon James is bringing his spiritual cowboy routine to us live from Bakersfield, California with a performance of “Let it Be Me” by Ray Lamontagne. He’s got a nice outdoor cabin as his backdrop and he looks so natural playing guitar and serenading us. It feels like we’re watching an established artist right now and it just feels like he’s on another level tonight, even with this low key vibe. Lionel says he looks like a world class artist and thinks Dillon as the look and the sound. Luke says Dillon is already an artist. Katy says his dreams are in his hands at this point and he did really great.

9:35 p.m. — It’s time for Arthur Gunn and he’s changing things up with “Lovin’ Machine” by Wynonie Harris. I love that he’s doing this with no instruments because we’ve only seen him playing guitar to this point. We haven’t seen this fun, throwback side of him! I don’t know this song but I’m having fun watching, even though Arthur has a problem with rolling his eyes to the back of his head when he sings. I’m sure the judges will scorn him for it because they’ve mentioned it before. But great voice and fun song! Lionel gives him a virtual standing ovation, Katy loves his vibe and reminds him to connect with his eyes and Luke says his vocal quality is undeniable.

9:40 p.m. — Up in New York, it’s time for Julia Gargano singing “Human” by Christina Perri. This is a subdued performance with Julia playing keyboard, but she seems connected to the song. When she hits the chorus she shows off a bit more range than I remember hearing in previous rounds. It’s a solid performance, but I’m not sure it will be the most memorable. Luke feels like Julia is a superstar, Lionel calls her a an amazing “stylist” and Katy says she checks all the boxes.

9:45 p.m.Grace Leer has already proven she has a fan base because she’s the only one who had to be voted into the Top 20. Tonight she’s hoping to progress further by singing “Cry” by Faith Hill in Nashville, Tennessee. She sounds okay, but this performance starts a little bland. Thankfully, Grace turns it up a notch on the chorus and brings a lot more energy as she belts out this ballad. Lionel says she rose to the occasion, Katy liked the power of the chorus and Luke says the beginning of this performance was lacking.

9:50 p.m. Just Sam is up next and she’s channeling a former “American Idol” by singing “I Believe” by Fantasia. This young woman has so much passion in her voice and she just lights up any room she’s in. It’s impossible to not fall in love with her, but I wish she would have taken it just one notch higher on that chorus. Katy is excited to see her flourish, Luke says she owns every aspect of her range and Lionel calls her the most inspirational figure in this group.

9:59 p.m. — Jonny West is closing out this important episode, singing “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. This is a genius song choice and Jonny puts his own spin on it with some more bass, but keeps it intimate. I think he could have taken up a bit more and given it slightly more edge on the chorus, but it was a good performance. Luke says Jonny can take his career wherever he wants to take it. Lionel says he has an arsenal of talent and Katy called it “moving” and “emotional.” That’s a wrap for tonight! Now it’s all up to America and the votes will decide who performs next week in the Top 10.

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