“American Idol” showcased 10 of last year’s also-rans in a special episode on Monday, April 19. The winner of the audience vote held during “The Comeback” will get the last slot in the Top 10. They will join the nine contenders who were revealed by Ryan Seacrest to have made the cut from the Top 12 at the end of Sunday’s episode: Alyssa Wray, Caleb Kennedy, Casey Bishop, Cassandra Coleman, Chayce Beckham, Deshawn Goncalves, Grace Kinstler, Hunter Metts and Willie Spence.
Among these hopefuls is Arthur Gunn, who fell just short of the mark and was named runner-up to season 18 winner Just Sam last May. Also in the mix is Louis Knight, who missed making the Top 5 and Makayla Phillips who was unlucky enough to be ousted when the Top 11 was pared down to seven. The other contenders in “The Comeback” special hosted by Ryan Seacrest and airing on April 19 are all drawn from the Top 20.
Below, follow along with all the action in our live blog recap of Night 15 Season 19 episode of “American Idol” and find out who was America’s choice.
8:00 p.m. — Last night America picked their top nine, but there’s room for one more. Tonight some favorites from last season will come back to compete for one spot on the big stage that evaded them last year. Who will rise to the occasion? We’re about to find out. Let’s go!
8:10 p.m. — Cyniah Elise will kick things off by showing a new side of herself, rocking out to “Edge of Midnight.” She looks great, but I think this is the wrong song choice. I remember her for having a big voice, but she appears to want to prove herself as a pop star instead of the great singer she has potential to be. I don’t think voters will respond to this the way she hopes. Katy wanted to hear more of Cyniah’s runs, Luke thinks she looked a little lost before showing off her big notes and Lionel likes her attitude on stage.
8:20 p.m. — Nick Merico is up next with his own original song, “City Lights.” It’s a risk to do an original song at this stage, but Nick is hoping to show who he is as an artist. I’ll give him credit for writing a song that actually has some edge. This isn’t some guy at the piano or playing guitar as is usually the case when you think of singer/songwriter. He has good stage presence, but I’m not sure this is the type of song that will drum up new fans. It’s more likely to excite the fans he already has. Luke says Nick failed to impress him vocally, inciting the first boos of the season from the crowd. Thank you Luke! Lionel loved Nick’s freedom on stage and Katy applauded him for bringing his own artistic identity to “American Idol.”
8:30 p.m. — Aliana Jester hopes she can win over America with her newfound confidence. She’s singing “I’ll Never Love Again,” and I feel like someone is finally here to compete rather than just gain some more followers. Aliana is stunning on stage, but her voice just lacks some of the magic I was hoping for at the climax. But she has that old-school diva vibe and major star power. Luke called it a “world class” performance, Katy didn’t even recognize her and applauded her growth and Luke loved her elegance.
8:38 p.m. — Franklin Boone is next singing “Meant to Live” and I’m so happy he’s picked a rock song. I think rock suits his voice and he always goes for it. This sounds genuine to me, unlike a couple of the previous performances that were a bit forced. For me this is by far the best so far, I’m just concerned that “American Idol” doesn’t have a ton of alternative rock fans. Katy missed seeing his singer/songwriter vibe, Luke was shocked by the direction Franklin chose to take and Lionel commended him for taking a chance when most people want to be very safe.
8:50 p.m. — Faith Becnel is a soul singer from Louisiana who hopes to show how much she’s grown in the last year, singing a song she forgot the lyrics to last season, “Cry Baby.” This is a great song choice for Faith and it suits her gritty, Southern style perfectly. This is the first time tonight I feel certain an artist has surpassed anything they did last year. Luke loved the performance, Lionel says just returning is a win for her (basically saying, you’re not winning this spot) and Katy says Faith showed balance tonight and she applauds her growth.
9:00 p.m. — If I’m being honest, I feel like the first five performances were the opening act for the contestants that really have a shot at winning a spot in the Top 10. It was nice to see them return, but I haven’t seen a real contender with the potential to shake up Season 19. As a fun intermission performance of sorts, former judge Harry Connick, Jr. returns and to sing one of his new songs, “Alone With My Faith.” He then moves on to a song called “Old Time Religion” where he plays drums, various brass instruments and the piano. It was less depressing than the first song. Let’s get back to the competition.
9:10 p.m. — Arthur Gunn was last year’s runner-up, so I imagine there’s a lot of pressure on him to beat out all of these competitors once again. Tonight he’s singing “Iris,” which is a choice he labored over for weeks. He definitely looks nervous to have all the pressure on him, but Luke is already smiling ear to ear as he watches Arthur strum that guitar on the big stage. His voice is still spot on and I think he can rest easy after this performance. Lionel says Arthur has instant identity and is a stylist. Katy loves that he just goes his own way. Luke says Arthur doesn’t need to overhype himself and hopes music gives Arthur everything he needs.
9:20 p.m. — DeWayne Crocker, Jr. is up next and he says he missed the mark last year by not being himself. He wants to be a gospel singer and he’s not shying away from that anymore. Tonight he’s singing “Voice of God” as he’s seated at the piano. I am not familiar with this song, but I love DeWayne’s voice and I’m happy he’s singing the style of music he loves. Halfway through he gets up and walks across the stage, taking the vocals up a notch, but not quite as much as I hoped. Katy says she felt the “church chills” as she watched, but she looks completely bored as she is saying it, so I’m not sure what she’s thinking. Luke seemed to want a little more power, but Lionel says DeWayne has clearly stepped into his light.
9:27 p.m. — Makayla Phillips was the judges’ save last year and she’s hoping to win over America this time, singing “Anyone.” She is having a diva moment, dressed to the nines as she stands flat-footed in the spotlight. I’m happy to hear that she’s starting off with restraint and she sounds great. This is probably the best vocal of the night and she’s just 18 years old. For added dramatics, Makayla tears up at the end, which could end up actually helping her with voters. People connect to this stuff! But Makayla really did deliver. Luke commended her for coming back and “showing up,” Lionel finds the high end of her vocals impressive and Katy says it was “everything!”
9:36 p.m. — “American Idol” alum Lauren Daigle is up next to provide another filler performance to stretch out this two-hour telecast. She never even made it to the live shows when she competed on Seasons 8 and 11, but definitely had the last laugh with her Grammy-winning album. She’s singing the title song off that collection tonight called “Look Up Child.” If nothing else, she should provide inspiration to the nine contestants who get cut tonight.
9:45 p.m. — One of the youngest competitors last season was Olivia Ximines and she’s back to show America her full potential. She’s a performer full of energy and can’t wait to have the whole stage. She’s singing “Say Yes” and doesn’t look nervous at all. Her smile lights up the room and she sounds great too. She has a little dance break in the middle and I’m loving this! Olivia has huge star potential. Talk about an X factor. The judges are on their feet for this. Lionel loves her ability to smile at an audience and make them smile back at her. Katy says Olivia is not meant to perform in a living room and thinks she’s the whole complete package. This 17-year old is meant for the stage. Luke says Olivia makes them feel comfortable in her world.
9:55 p.m. — Last up will be Louis Knight. He wants to come back and remind people that he’s a songwriter, singing an original song called “Maybe That.” He’s seated at the piano and the 20-year old is looking very comfortable on this big stage. This is a good song that registers quickly. Even though I’ve never heard it, the hook is catchy enough to grab my attention and he sounds great! This might be Louis’ spot to lose. The judges look smitten and Katy says Louis bared his soul. Luke thinks he showed tremendous growth and Louis feels like an authentic artist. Lionel applauds him for becoming a great songwriter.
9:59 p.m. — We won’t find out who advances to the Top 10 until Monday, April 26. That’s quite a wait! I’d say Arthur, Louis, Makayla and Olivia made the biggest impact. Who was your favorite? That’s a wrap for tonight.
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