“American Idol” judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie winnowed the 64 season 19 contestants competing in the Showstoppers round of the competition down to just 24 at the end of the shows that aired March 28 and March 29.
These two dozen contenders were divided into equal sized groups who will be seen performing both solo and with celebrity partners on pre-taped shows that air on April 4 and April 5. Each night, the top eight vote-getters will move on to the Top 16 while the bottom four will be eliminated.
Below, follow along with all the action in our live blog recap of Night 10 Season 19 episode of “American Idol.”
8:00 p.m.— 12 of the Top 24 will perform twice tonight — one solo performance and one celebrity duet. After America’s vote only eight will move on from this group, along with eight more from tomorrow night’s cohort to complete the Top 16. Let’s get started!
8:10 p.m. — Kicking off tonight’s show is 19-year old powerhouse Alanis Sophia. The Florida college student is singing “Alive” by Sia and sounds a little nervous at first, but settles in nicely. Alanis sounds okay, but this performance is completely forgettable so hopefully she has more in store for her duet. Her second performance has her paired up with Jimmie Allen for one of the most oversung duets in recent years, “Shallow” by Bradley Cooper & Lady Gaga. It’s a beautiful song, of course, but Jimmie is stealing the show with his vocal approach being so different from the original. Alanis sort of just blends in and once again fails to make a real impact. Katy thought Alanis’ solo performance was controlled and beautiful, but the judges criticized her for not “owning the stage.”
8:15 p.m. — Next up is Cassandra Coleman singing her solo performance of “Find Me” by Sigma featuring Birdy. I feel like I’m watching a star when I see her, but her vocals get real messy in the middle of this performance. She’s a little all over the place. Still, there’s something about Cassandra that draws me in. For her duet she’ll sing “Apologize” with Ryan Tedder, who happened to write the song. Cassandra feels more grounded in this performance and blends nicely with Ryan. Katy calls her voice a “spiritual experience” and says Cassandra gave her “full body chills,” while Lionel and Luke still want the singer to work on her nerves.
8:25 p.m. — Third tonight is Kentucky’s Alyssa Wray, a powerful vocalist singing “Something in the Water” by Carrie Underwood. I don’t like this song choice for her at all. I feel like Alyssa is trying to imitate Carrie’s nasally tone and she’s really overdoing the growls. The whole performance just feels overbaked to me. For her duet, Alyssa will team up with Katharine McPhee for the #1 Whitney Houston hit, “I’m Your Baby Tonight.” The song is 30 years old and 18-year old Alyssa hasn’t really heard of it, so she better learn quick! When they take the stage for the performance, I actually think Alyssa looks more comfortable than Katharine does with this song. She’s loose on stage while her mentor is stiff as a board. It’s sort of awkward. Lionel says watching Alyssa is like watching someone trying to put a cap on a volcano and Katy says she’s the first singer tonight who held her own with their celebrity duet partner.
8:35 p.m. — Wyatt Pike is up next singing “rubberband” by Tate McRae. Wyatt is the most natural on stage so far tonight, but the song choice is just incredibly boring. He doesn’t really take it anywhere, but at least he’s confident with who he is on stage. He gets a standing ovation from Luke and Katy before being joined by Ben Rector for a duet of “Brand New.” This is my favorite duet of the night so far. Wyatt knows who he is and doesn’t overthink his performance. Katy calls him an “authentic superstar” who could go on tour today. Lionel says Wyatt owns the stage with his stage presence.
8:45 p.m. — Next up is Alana singing “Blow Your Mind (Mwah)” by Dua Lipa. Alana is having fun with this song and is definitely outshining her competitors when it comes to stage presence and attitude. For her duet she is joined by Brian McKnight, who wrote the monster hit they’ll perform together, “Back at One.” Brian reveals this is the first time he’s done it as a duet, which is a shock to Alana. They hit the stage, and as expected, Brian is singing circles around Alana. This isn’t Alana’s fault because Brian is really in a league of his own. It’s like singing with Stevie Wonder. But I do give credit to Alana for her stage presence. I don’t see her as an artist singing many powerhouse ballads in the future, so for her to even hold her own with Brian here is impressive. Luke says Alana has great energy, but Katy wants her to take more risks.
9:00 p.m. — The next solo performance comes from 20-year old Anilee List, singing “My Future” by Billie Eilish. Aniliee has turned this into an underwhelming power ballad with way too much overswinging, but I applaud her effort. She doesn’t sound bad, but the judges look more impressed than I am. For her duet, Anilee is singing “Tell Me Something Good” by Rufus & Chaka Khan and will be joined by Joss Stone. This duet feels lopsided and I just don’t see Anilee as a soul singer. She has too many runs and it doesn’t seem natural. She’s a big miss for me tonight. The judges certainly like her much more than myself and give her a standing ovation.
9:10 p.m. — 20-year old Deshawn Goncalves kicks off tonight’s second hour with a solo performance of “Forever Young” by Bob Dylan. He really brought the church up into this song — so much so that I barely recognize the song at all. I liked how he began a capella and gradually built up his performance through the chorus, but I still feel like he could have pushed it even harder. For his duet he’s joined by Ryan Tedder singing OneRepublic‘s, “I Lived.” Deshawn has the voice and natural stage presence to make a good run this season, he just needs to loosen up. He’s so uptight! But the judges give him a standing O and Katy says he has one of the most unique, top three recognizable voices in the competition. She also comments that Deshawn is stiff. Lionel tells him to stop thinking so much and enjoy the audience.
9:20 p.m. — The competition continues with Graham DeFranco singing “Raye” by John Splithoff. I don’t know this song, but I’m instantly put at ease by the confidence of this 28-year old soul singer. It just seems like Graham is a much more experienced artist and perhaps that has to do with his age. There are no bells and whistles, but Graham nails it. Next Graham is singing “Love Like This” with Ben Rector. Graham is seated on a stool while Ben plays keyboard and this just seems natural. I love the vocals from these two and I haven’t paid much attention to Graham throughout the audition process, but he’s winning the night for me! The judges give him a standing ovation and Luke compliments his ability to turn songs into his style. Lionel says Graham has an ability to evoke emotion with a great storyteller’s voice.
9:25 p.m. — The show moves on to Andrea Valles singing “Lo Vas a Olvidar” by Billie Eilish & Rosalia. The 23-year is rocking a glittered eyepatch (she had retina detachment surgery) while singing in Spanglish, which was heavy on emotion but lacking in the vocals department. She’ll have to stretch herself when she sings “Careless Whisper” by George Michael with Brian McKnight. Brian seems to love Andrea’s personality and it says something when a superstar is impressed by a newcomer. I have to say, Andrea is holding her own next to Brian more successfully than Alana did earlier. Lionel complimented her ability to stand on her own next to one of the “smoothest singers” in the business. Katy thinks she chose an incredible solo song and loves all the tricks up Andrea’s sleeve.
9:35 p.m. — Cecil Ray is up next singing “Paint Me a Birmingham” by Tracy Lawrence. Cecil looks like a bundle of nerves and after an entire verse and the first chorus, I’m not sure if Cecil has sung a single note in the right key. This is bad. Hopefully his duet with Jimmie Allen goes better as they sing “Freedom Was a Highway” by Jimmie & Brad Paisley. I’m so distracted by how entertaining Jimmie is and wondering how he failed so badly on “American Idol” years ago. I guess he’s proof you don’t have to win to find success later in life. I can barely even Cecil in this performance because Jimmie is carrying him, so Cecil benefits from that. I spent half this performance downloading Jimmie’s albums on iTunes. Katy calls Cecil the underdog of this season and tells him everyone wants to root for him, but he has to root for himself. Luke says Cecil got swallowed up and had pitch problems tonight.
9:45 p.m. — Willie Spence is up next and he’s singing “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler for his solo performance. Lawd this man can sing! What a breath of fresh air tonight. He reminds me of Ruben Studdard. The way he drifts between octaves is effortless and it’s clear he grew up singing in the church. Next he’s singing “The Prayer” by Celine Dion & Andrea Bocelli with Katharine McPhee. Katharine sounds fantastic, but Willie just gives me goosebumps when he sings. Lionel throws his hands in the air and confirms to me that this is BY FAR the best duet of the night so far. The judges give them a standing ovation before Luke says Willie can do no wrong in his eyes. Lionel calls Willie “mesmerizing” and that he’s a stylist in his own lane. Katy calls his performance “goosebump central.”
9:59 p.m. — Grace Kinstler will close out the show, first singing “Queen” by Jessie J. Grace has proven throughout the auditions that she’s the one to beat, but I’m not a huge fan of this song choice. She’s killing it vocally, as expected, but I don’t feel anything watching this performance. Next she’s joined by Joss Stone for a duet of “Midnight Train to Georgia” by Gladys Knight & The Pips. Grace is soaring on this song and Katy calls this duet “timeless.” Luke is excited to watch Grace grow as an artist and performer this season. I’d say Grace is still a major front-runner to win.
10:00 p.m. — That’s a wrap for the first night of performances for America’s vote! What are your thoughts? Who did you love and who do you think will be packing their bags? If I had to choose a favorite, I’d say Willie Spence won this night by a mile. Who should be cut? Based on tonight I’d probably let go of Cecil Ray, Alanis Sophia, Anilee List and Alana. On Monday night we’ll see 12 more performance with eight more spots in the Top 16 up for grabs.