“American Idol” fans tuning into the Top 12 reveal on Monday, April 12 got a surprise even before the results were announced. Luke Bryan had to bow out of the first live show of season 19 after testing positive for COVID-19. His replacement – Paula Abdul, one of the original panelists who made “Idol” must-see TV for the better part of a decade. She’ll sit in judgement alongside Katy Perry and Lionel Richie.
While America will decide on 10 of the dozen contestants who will move on, the three judges will pick the final two. The Top 16 hoping to make the cut are: Alanis Sophia, Alyssa Wray, Ava August, Beane, Caleb Kennedy, Casey Bishop, Cassandra Coleman, Chayce Beckham, Colin Jamieson, Deshawn Goncalves, Grace Kinstler, Graham DeFranco, Hunter Metts, Madison Watkins, Willie Spence and Wyatt Pike.
Below, follow along with all the action in our live blog recap of Night 13 Season 19 episode of “American Idol.”
8:00 p.m. — Who is it gonna be? “American Idol” is live and the Top 12 are about to be revealed. It’s fun to have Paula back on the panel and host Ryan Seacrest shows off a nostalgic picture of them from when it all started. We have also learned Wyatt Pike has dropped out of the competition, so that opens up a slot for another hopeful contestant. Let’s get started!
8:10 p.m. — The first artist in the Top 12 is Casey Bishop. Tonight she is singing “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals. This is a darker version than the original that’s much heavier on the guitar. She looks great and her stage presence seems to improve with each performance. I’m not a huge fan of the arrangement of this song (the tempo is all over the place) but Casey really crushes the vocals at the end. She takes her seat in the victory lounge, with no commentary from the judges.
8:15 p.m. — Next up is Colin Jamieson, who learns America did not vote him through. He still has a chance at being saved by the judges so tonight he’s singing “Waves” by Dean Lewis. Colin does a good job with his song choices and this suits his voice nicely. It’s a fun pop/rock song that allows him to showcase his vocals and work the stage. If he’s stressed out about his lack of fans at home, it’s not showing. Lionel says Colin did exactly what he’s supposed to do, which is ignore anything anyone says about him. Katy says Colin has grown before their eyes and every time he’s on stage it’s like a celebration. Paula compliments his passion and says Colin’s charisma makes her smile. Colin sits down in the danger zone and will wait to hear his fate at the end of tonight’s episode.
8:20 p.m. — Ryan reveals this season is so close that the difference between some contestants votes is less than 900. Wow! Next Deshawn Goncalves learns he will advance to the Top 12 and celebrates with a rendition of “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder. He’s taken the judges’ advice to heart and is at least attempting to loosen up. He’s still not a natural on stage, but his voice makes up for it. Stevie isn’t an easy singer to cover, but Deshawn is holding his own. He’ll head off to the victory zone and relax.
8:25 p.m. — Cassandra Coleman takes center stage and realizes America has voted her into the Top 12. Tonight she’s singing “Light On” by Maggie Rogers and hopefully she can shake her nerves now that she knows the pressure is off. She looks to be having fun as she works the stage, but continues to miss notes all over the place. It’s sort of a mess and I just can’t endorse this performance, but congratulations to Cassandra. She takes a seat in the victory zone.
8:35 p.m. — Caleb Kennedy is up next and shocks everyone because he’s not wearing a hat! Caleb was voted into the Top 12 and now he’s singing his original song, “Nowhere.” No hat and no guitar. Just Caleb on stage singing and letting his glorious mullet fly in the wind. For being so reserved, Caleb is ridiculously likable. I don’t love this song and his vocals are just okay tonight. It’s not one of his better performances, but I have a feeling he’ll be alright. Take a seat in the victory zone Caleb!
8:45 p.m. — Randy Jackson makes a video call to say hello to Paula and Ryan. Paula is enjoying the reunion and says they’re just missing the “STD,” meaning the super talented Simon Cowell, of course. Next Madison Watkins hits center stage and learns she did not get enough votes to sit in the victory zone. She’s singing “Hotline Bling” by Drake for the judges’ save. I’m not surprised Madison fell short with America, but she’s having fun tonight and I like her interpretation of this song. Paula appears to love her as she stands and applauds when Madison hits the climax of the song. Lionel says it’s clear that Madison is singing for her career and he loves her personality on stage. Katy says Madison has brought light to the competition all season. Paula thinks Madison is “extraordinary.” But Madison has to sit down in the danger zone and await her fate.
8:50 p.m. — Next up is Ava August. The 15-year old learns she won over America and will advance to the Top 12. She’s singing “Love of My Life” by Queen. The judges didn’t care for her song choice last night and told her to stick to classic sounds and it appears she listened. She’s giving a soft rendition of this anthem and letting her tone and stage presence sell the performance. And she nails it! Lionel says she is a pro and Ava owned the song. Katy calls her “world class” and “elegant.” Paula says she’s speechless, but goes on to speak plenty about Ava’s impressive talent. She’s off to the victory zone.
9:00 p.m. — Beane was not voted through by America so he’ll have to sing for his life. Performing “Grow as We Go” by Ben Platt. This is a great song choice for Beane and I like how he has embraced his image throughout the season. This feels a little Broadway, but I like Broadway so that works for me. I just enjoy watching Beane on stage. Katy is smiling ear to ear as he sings and I’d be shocked if the judges don’t save him. Lionel praises Beane for growing into his artistry. Katy calls herself a card-carrying fan and Paula thinks everything about Beane is special and unique. But for now he’ll take a seat in the danger zone.
9:05 p.m. — The live performances continue with Chayce Beckham, who has advanced into the Top 12. Tonight he’s singing “What Brings Life Also Kills” by Kolton Moore & The Clever Few. He looks comfortable as always, strumming his guitar and belting out this sensitive song with that big, husky voice. Chayce is a complete natural and I think he’s going to be tough to beat. He’s off to the victory zone!
9:15 p.m. — Ryan reveals that on Sunday the Top 12 will become the Top 9. Then on Monday, 10 finalists from last season will come back to perform live on the big stage. One of them will get a second chance to join the competition to complete the Top 10. Wow! Next, Alyssa Wray learns she has advanced to the Top 12 and will sing “The Greatest Love of All” by Whitney Houston. Whitney sets a high bar for anyone and Alyssa is coming up short. This is uncomfortable to watch. She fumbled around for nearly two minutes to hit one big note and I’m just not a fan of this performance at all. Paula calls Alyssa “magnetic” but warns her to pick songs that allow her to shine. Alyssa can now relax in the victory zone.
9:20 p.m. — Next Alanis Sophia learns she was not voted into the Top 12 so she’ll be singing for a save. Tonight she’s performing “Heart Attack” by Demi Lovato. It’s a fun, uptempo performance and Alanis looks like a young, current pop star. I think this is a smart song choice for her, but Alanis has pitch problems. There were a couple big misses throughout this performance and the ending went completely off the rails. Lionel advises her to stop thinking so much. Katy tells Alanis to take her fear and rejection and let it build into greatness. Paula applauds Alanis’ tenacity and says sometimes things don’t go the way you want them to. Wow, these judges are doing anything possible to beat around the truth. Alanis is taking a seat in the danger zone.
9:30 p.m. — Willie Spence is up next and he looks incredibly nervous. Ryan assures him he can relax because Willie is in the Top 12! He’s singing “Diamonds” by Rihanna. What a breath of fresh air. He has a big voice and the runs just flow naturally throughout the performance. I would argue he’s the best vocalist in the competition and the other contestants clearly love watching him perform. They’re all smiling and waving their hands in the air as he sings. Willie is heading to the victory zone and I think he’ll be safe for weeks to come.
9:40 p.m. — Next up is Grace Kinstler who learns she made it into the victory lounge. She’s spicing things up tonight with “Dangerous Woman” by Ariana Grande. I’m glad she’s straying from the power ballads we all know she can nail. There are some shaky notes in her lower register that she could work on in the future, but of course she absolutely rips the powerful belts on the chorus. Her front-runner status is in tact and Lionel loves her attitude.
9:45 p.m. — Hunter Metts takes the final spot in the victory lounge when he learns America voted him into the Top 12. Tonight he’s singing “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt. This really sounds like the George Michael version and I’m impressed. This is miles better than his last performance and I’m so intrigued by his tone. This was a big step in the right direction for Hunter.
9:50 p.m. — Graham DeFranco has had an entire commercial break to think about the fact that he’s in the danger zone. Hopefully that fuels his performance of “Cover Me Up” by Jason Isbell. Graham has a nice voice and he’s pretty consistent. He might lack some stage presence and perhaps that’s why America hasn’t responded. He’s heading to the danger zone and I can’t say I’d save him from that group if it were up to me. Lionel says Graham should be happy he got a shot in this business and encourages him to keep pushing forward. Katy applauds his growth this season and Paula calls his voice “dripping butter.”
9:59 p.m. — Lionel, Katy and Paula discuss which two artists they will save to complete the Top 12. The other three singers in the danger zone will be eliminated. Lionel announces the first judges’ save goes to Madison Watkins. Katy reveals the final judges’ save goes to Beane. That means Alanis Sophia, Colin Jamieson and Graham DeFranco will be eliminated. As mentioned earlier, Wyatt Pike withdrew from the competition before tonight’s episode. That’s a wrap for tonight!