‘American Idol’ recap: Top 40 sing solo in Hawaii on Night 9 of Season 18 [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

Over the course of the two episodes of “American Idol” that start March 29, the three judges — – pop princess Katy Perry, country superstar Luke Bryan and Oscar-winning singer/songwriter Lionel Richie — will cut the Top 40 in half.

Once the live playoffs of “American Idol” season 18 begin, you will be able to predict the outcome of each episode in our predictions center. You can already make forecasts for the outcomes on such reality TV shows as “Survivor,” plus the winners of the Academy of Country Music Awards and both the daytime and primetime Emmy Awards.

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Below, follow along with all the action on the Night 9 episode of “American Idol,” which features solo performances from the Top 40.

8:00 p.m. — We kick things off tonight with the judges lounging on the beaches of Hawaii with Mickey and Minnie  Mouse enjoying some “island time” while Ryan is buried up to his neck in the sand. Although they could enjoy sitting around all day, it’s time to get to work! The showcase must go on. Let’s get started!

8:10 p.m. — At the Disney Aulani resort, the Top 40 will compete for a spot in the coveted Top 20 where they’ll sing for America’s vote. Nick Merico is up first and he’s been humbled throughout this experience after getting some tough love from Lionel. He’s singing “When I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars, which is a heavy-hitting power ballad. He’s got the handsome looks of a pop star, but does he have the chops for this? Not exactly, but this pretty boy has advanced to the Top 20 with a new appreciation from Lionel.

8:20 p.m.Makayla Brownlee barely made it through Hollywood because of her heart condition, but now she’s hoping her nerves don’t get the best of her as she sings “More Hearts Than Mine” by Ingrid Andress. Makayla got a special phone call from Andress before the performance telling her not to overthink it. Makayla hits the stage and things are going well physically, but Luke appears bothered by the arrangement. When it comes time for her final judgment, Makayla is complimented for her fighting spirit but criticized for some of her musical arrangements. Unfortunately, Makayla will not make the Top 20 this year.

8:30 p.m. —  DeWayne Crocker, Jr. has enjoyed the experience in Hawaii and couldn’t be more thrilled he was able to take his mother, grandmother and great-grandmother along for the ride. DeWayne is singing “Old Town Road” by Lil’ Nas X and Billy Ray Cyrus but he’s putting a reggae spin on it. His risk appears to pay off when we see Luke smiling from ear to ear and Lionel up dancing. But is it enough to make the Top 20? Lionel says it was a tough decision, but DeWayne is in the Top 20! His family is so entertaining and their celebration dance is enough for me to wish they had their own reality show documenting their next Hollywood experience.

8:40 p.m.Camryn Leigh Smith had an instant connection with Katy because the 16-year old grew up singing in church. Hollywood week was a roller coaster for her, but can she calm her nerves to get through this showcase? She goes back to her roots singing a gospel song, “Break Every Chain” by Tasha Cobbs Leonard. She sounds solid, but doesn’t exactly have the pipes for such a massive, soulful gospel ballad. Katy thinks her voice is “cool,” but Lionel didn’t connect. God has a plan for Camryn, but it’s not going to be on “American Idol” anymore. Katy delivers the tough news that Camryn has been eliminated.

8:50 p.m. — Up next we see a trio of singers including Devon Alexander (“Tell Me You Love Me” by Demi Lovato), Jordan Jones (“Redbone” by Childish Gambino) and Geena (“Finesse” by Bruno Mars). It’s the end of the road for all three of them.

9:00 p.m. — Halfway through tonight’s showcase, Louis Knight is hoping he’s the next artist to advance to the Top 20. He’s singing “Castle on the Hill” by Ed Sheeran because it reminds him of his home in the UK. Louis struggled a bit through rehearsals, but when he hits the stage for the showcase he loosens up a bit. Katy says it wasn’t his best performance and he needs a “good talkin’ to.” She tells him they’re betting on him to potentially win this competition, but he needs to step it up. Regardless of that, they still have high hopes for Louis and he’s in the Top 20!

9:10 p.m.Francisco Martin (“Falling” by Harry Styles) has been a nervous wreck through this competition. He admits to going through a depression in 2019 which included having a falling out with his family. After having ups and downs throughout this process, Francisco puts the baggage behind and gives his best performance in Hawaii, earning a fist pump from Lionel as Luke jumps up and down on his chair. Francisco has earned a spot in the Top 20!

9:15 p.m.Jovin Webb has had an incredible run through the auditions and Lionel is impressed by his “instant identity.” Tonight for his showcase, Jovin is singing “You Are the Best Thing” by Ray Lomontagne. With one of the most unique voices in the competition, I can’t imagine him leaving at this point. The guy is a pro. Lionel says that Jovin didn’t hit all the notes in his showcase, but his artistry is spot on. Jovin is in the Top 20! We are over an hour into this episode and I’m starting to wonder, did any women make it through?

9:20 p.m. — Now that Jovin has secured his spot, it’s time for his Hollywood duet partner and fellow Louisiana native, Faith Becnel, to show off her skills as a solo artist. She’s singing “Ain’t Nobody” by Rufus and Chaka Khan. This funky, saucy type of song is right in her wheelhouse and Luke says she’s an intriguing artist. The judges didn’t think her showcase was a step up for her, but they still love her personality. Faith becomes the first female artist in the Top 20.

9:30 p.m. — Next up is Amber Fiedler who has gone through a lot in the last three months. She was pregnant during her initial audition and has since given birth and gave the baby up for adoption. Tonight she’s singing “Good Kisser” by Lake Street Dive and she’s showing off a more sassy side but it may be at the expense of her vocals. She’s a little pitchy throughout. This whole performance just feels off. Luke says that they’ve loved her tone since the day they met her, but she lost sight of the prize at her showcase. Unfortunately, Amber will not make the Top 20 but hopefully she gained some confidence along the way. She’s heartbroken.

9:40 p.m. — Next up is Just Sam. She’s mentally prepared to go home, which is sad, but she’s scared to have too much hope. Sam’s confidence has increased with each round and the judges have been on her side. She takes a risk tonight by singing a song in a language she doesn’t know fluently, “Como La Flor” by Selena. The risk is worth it to her because she trusts herself and her ability. Katy’s jaw practically hits the floor when Sam belts the Spanish song out with perfection, wearing a long skirt and a flower in her hair. I love Sam! She gets a huge smile on her face as she spots Katy stand up and start dancing. Katy says Sam was the definition of elegance on that stage. It has been a metamorphosis. Sam is in the Top 20 and she’s my early favorite.

9:50 p.m. — 23-year old Jonny West came into this competition alongside his girlfriend, Margie Mays. After going through all of Hollywood week together, Margie was cut and now Jonny is on his own. Without Margie by his side, doubt started to sink in but now Jonny is ready to fight to make the Top 20. Tonight he’s singing “You Found Me” by The Fray. He sits down at the keyboard and plays along while serenading the audience. The judges appear to be loving it. Jonny has never sounded better as he opens up his voice and let’s it rip. Katy tells Jonny not to self-sabotage, because he is now in the Top 20!

9:59 p.m.Dillon James is the next to hear his fate. After going through trials and tribulations with drugs and alcohol, Dillon has celebrated two years of sobriety. Tonight he’s singing “The Times They Are A-Changin'” by Bob Dylan. Katy exclaims, “He looks like a star!” while Dillon plays guitar and nails the vocals. She only wishes he would lean in to the emotional part of his voice. Lionel tells Dillon he’s come through the tunnel, but we’ll have to wait until next week to hear his final judgement! That’s a wrap for tonight. Final judgments continue next Sunday, April 5.

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