‘American Idol’ recap: Night 9 Season 4 Showstoppers on ABC [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

Despite delivering Showstopper performances on Sunday night’s episode of “American Idol,” some contestants suffered the toughest cut yet and were sent packing by judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie.  Only 10 contestants moved one step closer to their dream. On March 29, more show-stopping performances took place at the Dolby Theatre before the judges delivered their toughest decisions of season 19.

After the two nights of Showstoppers, only two dozen artists will make the cut. This top tier of performers will then fight it out for the chance to be on the live shows, which begin in early April. At that point, you will be able to predict the outcome of each episode in our predictions center.

Below, follow along with all the action in our live blog of the Night 9 Season 19 episode of “American Idol.”

SEE ‘American Idol’ Winners: Where Are They Now (Seasons 1 – 18)?

8:04 p.m. — Tension is high as the remaining contestants await their final judgment. We pick up where last night left off, with 15-year old Casey Bishop and 19-year old Alanis Sophia in the hot seats together hoping for good news. Katy tells Alanis she is overswinging and needs to “stop trying to ace the test.” But despite some constructive criticism, Alanis will advance to the Top 24. And there’s also good news for Casey, who learns she will be moving forward as well. It’s a happy way to begin tonight, with half of the Top 24 in place.

8:10 p.m. — The long, excruciating wait to hear the news that could change his life is about to end for Willie Spence. In the Showstopper round he performed “I Was Here” by Beyoncé, and the 21-year old from Georgia put his glorious, rich vocals on full display. Willie is undeniably one of the best pure vocalists on this season. I can’t imagine he could be cut at this point, and he won’t be! Luke tells Willie he’s in the Top 24.

8:25 p.m. — We pick things back up in the middle of Emisunshine‘s performance of “Piece of My Heart” by Janis Joplin. Also merged into this segment is Lizzy O’Very and her performance of “Sign of the Times” by Harry Styles  and Camille Lamb singing “Feel Like Makin’ Love” by Bad Company. They left it all on the stage, but all three of them will end their “American Idol” journey here. Next, 19-year old Mary Jo Young is hoping for better news. After “fumbling the ball” in the Duets, she hopes to make a better impression singing “Us” by James Bay. Her raspy vocals get an eyebrow raise from Luke, but is it enough to advance? Yes! Mary Jo has that magic they’re looking for and will make the Top 24.

8:32 p.m. — For Hunter Metts, self-doubt has been one of his greatest obstacles. He gets emotional while discussing how badly he wants this journey to continue. His family has been struggling financially in recent years with his father in between jobs. Hunter has felt inadequate since his first audition, but with his guitar in hand he takes the Showstopper stage to sing “July” by Noah Cyrus. I love the high register of his voice. He has a unique sound and star quality I can only imagine the judges find compelling. Katy and Luke look wowed as he sings and when he joins them onstage for his final judgment, Hunter receives news that he has made the Top 24.

8:40 p.m. — Next up is Althea Grace, a single mother who has been struggling throughout the competition being away from her daughter. The 21-year old is jamming out to “We Can Work it Out” by The Beatles for her Showstopper performance and Katy enjoys Althea’s fighting spirit, but didn’t like the song choice. And at this point in the competition, singers can’t play it safe. Althea has been cut from the competition.

8:50 p.m. — Next up are Ronda Felton and Funke, who both bravely continued forward after a dramatic Duet round. You may remember that Funke faceplanted during their critique, which landed her in the emergency room getting three stitches to the chin. Meanwhile, Ronda was traumautized and hoped to come back strong this round. Funke is singing “Orange Colored Sky” by Natalie Cole, and I think her extremely unique tone and lower register could be enough to warrant her a place in this competition, but she struggles to stay on pitch. Meanwhile, Ronda sings “All is Fair in Love” by Stevie Wonder and although she’s got power, she misses a lot of notes as well. Sadly, both Ronda and Funke are cut from the competition.

9:00 p.m. — Wrapping up the first half of tonight’s episode is Grace Kinstler, one of the most notable singers throughout the audition process. The 20-year old powerhouse vocalist is singing “Father” by Demi Lovato, but wasn’t sure she made the right choice by singing such a personal song. Well, after she shot goosebumps straight up my spine when she hit the chorus, I can confirm she definitely made the right song choice. This girl is a beast. Not only will she advance to the Top 24, but I’ll be shocked if she’s not in the season finale.

9:10 p.m. — Singing “Over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland, 19-year old DeShawn Goncalves plays the keyboard while crooning through the pop standard. Lionel claps and screams, “Love it!” while DeShawn hits a few high notes. The legendary idol judge is proud to deliver the news that DeShawn has advanced to the Top 24. Next, former boyband member Colin Jamieson makes a risky choice by singing “Sugar, We’re Going Down” by Fall Out Boy. He still has a tendency to overdo the whisper effect in his voice, but generally this is the best I’ve heard him sound. He also takes his stage presence up a notch when he hits the chorus and dances around stage. Katy says Colin surprised the judges with his song choice and his risk paid off. Colin has joined the Top 24.

9:20 p.m. — The two youngest artists in the competition will be next to hear their fate. 15-year olds Laila Mach and Ava August take different approaches, with Laila performing “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys and Ava singing an original song called “Ghost of You” without the band. I don’t think Laila has the soul it takes to pull off Alicia Keys, but we’ll see what the judges say. Ava looked much more natural on stage and I think her original song was pretty good! The judges seem to agree with me, cutting Laila and advancing Ava to the Top 24. I think it was the right choice, but it’s tough to watch a kid cry after being rejected.

9:35 p.m. — We continue on with Nia Renée singing “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke. I feel like this 17-year old has been mostly ignored this season, but she’s got some serious pipes. I’m not happy with how much of this performance was cut from the episode and I’m even more disappointed when Lionel tells Nia she has been cut from the competition. What the hell? This was a mistake. Next, 16-year old Liahona Olayan sings “Me Too” by Meghan Trainor in hopes of securing her place in the next round. She puts the sass in this performance she was missing from her disastrous Duets round. The judges appreciate the sparkle in this performance and Liahona even ends by doing the splits on stage. Liahona has made the Top 24.

9:45 p.m. — The next two leading ladies know they need a big performance to stand out from the competition. Madison Watkins and Alana are ready to put on a show. Madison is singing “It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World” by James Brown and know it’s the time to give it all she’s got. Madison has the voice and look it takes to put together a pop star and the judges agree. She’s in the Top 24. Meanwhile, Alana sings “Bust Your Windows” by Jazmine Sullivan and she’s bringing as much attitude as she can muster for this performance. Katy is thrilled to move Alana to the next round as well Anilee List who belted out “Ain’t Nobody” by Rufus & Chaka Khan.

9:59 p.m. — The sun has nearly set on the final day of judgment. Two contestants remain: Cecil Ray and Drake McCain. Drake auditioned two years ago and was cut at this stage last time. His mom encouraged him to try again and tonight Drake is singing one of Luke’s hits, “Country Girl (Shake it For Me).” There’s a lot of hip thrusting coming from the 19-year old on stage and the 44-year old judge on the panel. This is fun, but Drake seems to run out of breath throughout the performance, so he might be trying to do a little too much. Meanwhile, Cecil sings “Beyond” by Leon Bridges and is much more timid on stage than Drake, but has equal struggles with pitch. If I had to choose between these two, I’d probably go with Drake. But who do the judges prefer? Well, they disagree with me. For the second time, Drake has been cut before America had the chance to vote for him. That’s got to be devastating. As for Cecil, he will move forward and fill the last slot in Season 19’s Top 24. That’s a wrap for Hollywood week! Next Sunday and Monday the newly crowned Top 24 will take it to the next level as “American Idol” returns to a live studio audience. And the power will shift to America as voters determine the fate of the remaining artists. They will all perform alongside notable celebrities including Jason Aldean, Josh Groban, Ryan Tedder, Jewel, Tori Kelly, PJ Morton, Joss Stone, Brandon Boyd, Katharine McPhee, Ben Rector, Jimmie Allen and Brian McKnight.

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