There were several highlight moments on Sunday’s episode of “American Idol” as the Top 20 performed in the safety of their own homes and the judges provided critiques from their somewhat more upscale domiciles. Not even a worldwide epidemic can stop these talented singers from giving it their all. Among my favorites were Dillon James aka the spiritual cowboy with his ready-for-a-music-video Western backdrop as he sang Ray Lamontagne‘s “Let it Be Me” and Just Sam in a red gown while doing justice to Fantasia‘s “Believe.”
But the performance that really got to me was Jonny West, the 23-year-old piano teacher from Murrieta, California, who went through to the Hollywood rounds with his sweetheart and returning auditioner Margie Mays. Alas, Margie did not make the top 40. But last night, she gladly filled in as her honey’s stage crew and got some camera time herself on the show as well.
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It really takes a village to make @americanidol happen from home. Just moments before my sweetheart @ohjonnywest made us all weep from our couches. Gotta get them angles RIGHT! Jonny is up SOON, west coast watchers!!!!!! #idolfromhome #🏠 #onelastkiss #beforehesings #americanidol
Jonny posted his own picture on Twitter and last words before his performance.
Be sure to catch this rough rider on American Idol this Sunday! Excited to get to play a part in kicking off these at home performances. I’m ready to right-left jab uppercut combo for the next round and I hope I earn your vote! LETS PLAY SOME MUSIC! @americanidol pic.twitter.com/65P03ycfuG
— Jonny West (@ohjonnywest) April 24, 2020
But what really stood out, given how everyone is self isolating these days, is his song choice, “What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong. Jonny didn’t sing it like Satchmo did with his 1967 hit. Nor did he do it like Hawaiian singer and ukulele-strumming Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. Instead, he sang in a more melancholy and wistful way while playing his keyboard. Heartfelt didn’t even cover what he did with this evergreen song and I doubt I was the only viewer who eyes welled up more than a bit.
As Katy Perry, decked out as a container of hand sanitizer, chanted, “We’re not worthy, we’re not worthy.” Luke Bryan told him, “You can take your career wherever you want to take it. I heard Randy Newman in there, I heard movies soundtracks, I heard so many things. Just don’t stop your music journey no matter what happens, please.”
Lionel Richie, meanwhile, says, “You have an arsenal, a vocal arsenal, musical chops arsenal, writer — you have it all, my friend. Please just enjoy this ride.” Jonny replies, “I appreciate, man. I’m having fun right now.” Katy then gushes, “It was so emotional. I think if the show continues to film from home for the rest of the show, it’s kind of to your advantage. You can really play your subtleties coming from your voice. She then says declares it to be one of her Top 2 performances of the night. Let’s hope America thinks so, too.
He then reveals that he picked the tune even before the epidemic shut down our lives. “It means so much more to me now as we’re going through all this and I just feel like it is a perfect way to be like, this is what is waiting for us outside here once this clears up, and it will. I’m just happy to be here and I appreciate you guys seriously.”