“American Idol” judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie watched along with viewers at home as the Top 24 contestants were cut down to the Top 16 on the ABC singing competition. Who did America choose and who was eliminated? And what did the sweet 16 artists perform live after receiving the exciting news they had advanced to the next round?
On April 11 the Top 16 hopefuls perform once again for America’s vote. The results will be revealed on April 12 as the Top 16 are winnowed down to 12.
Below, follow along with all the action in our live blog recap of Night 12 Season 19 episode of “American Idol.”
8:00 p.m. — America voted and tonight 24 become 16. Will your favorite make the cut? We’re about to find out! A masked live audience is in the building as eight singers reach the end of their journey and 16 perform live for another nationwide vote.
8:07 p.m. — The first person to reach the next round is Alyssa Wray. Tonight she sings “Killing Me Softly With His Song” by Roberta Flack. This song is a classic, but huge fan of how Alyssa is delivering it. I feel like she’s trying to push a little too hard on the opening verse, which is typically pretty laid back. Alyssa is clearly on a mission to prove she’s the belting diva to beat, but she has a tendency to overdo it. I didn’t care for it, but the judges are on their feet. Katy commends her “vibe” and vocal runs. Luke loved the song choice and praised her for starting it like the classic and then modernizing it halfway through. Lionel calls it a “stellar” performance.
8:12 p.m. — Next in the Top 16 is Graham DeFranco. He’s singing “That’s Life” by Frank Sinatra, which is an old classic, but I love Graham’s take on it. He’s got a smooth tone and a whispery, natural rasp. I wouldn’t expect him to sing a song like this, but it’s working for him. He’s made it his own and obviously sounds nothing like Sinatra. It gets a bit slow about three-quarters through because he doesn’t really take the song anywhere, but overall I enjoyed it. Luke says Graham is endearing because he always looks like he can’t believe he’s here. Lionel enjoys his attitude and swagger. Katy thinks Graham picked the best song for his voice and called it “cool and comfortable.”
8:20 p.m. — The next artist to advance is Grace Kinstler. Tonight she’s singing “Elastic Heart” by Sia, which should allow her to show off her elastic voice. Grace has a powerful voice, but I appreciate her ability to get through a verse with some restraint. She kicks it up a notch when she reaches the chorus and lets her voice fly as she stands flat-footed. It wasn’t a history-making performance, but it’s a solid performance from the front-runner. Lionel calls her a “force to be reckoned with” and “laser sharp.” Katy commends her for starting slow and steady before building up to a crescendo at the end. Luke calls her a thoroughbred and applauds her for taking their comments to heart.
8:30 p.m. — The next artist in the Top 16 is Alanis Sophia. I actually though she was in danger of being cut, but she squeaks through and is singing “The Story” by Brandi Carlile. I thought this song was too big for her, but I love how she starts out like it’s a lullaby. She explodes during the chorus and I’m impressed. This is a far better performance than she gave a week ago! Katy thought it was a great song choice and applauds her for keeping it together at such a young age. Luke says she should make sure she gets her breath when she hits the low notes, but says she’s a star. Lionel says they witnessed an explosion, but tells her to work the stage.
8:34 p.m. — The next person to make the Top 16 is Willie Spence. He’s singing “Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele, which is a perfect compliment to his big, velvety voice. There’s no question Willie has one of the best pure voices in the competition. I don’t know if he can sing a bad note. I love how he keeps raising up octaves throughout the song. I just hope America doesn’t tire of him singing ballads. I certainly won’t, I feel like I’m in church right now! SANG! Luke says Willie sucked them in and knows how to make people watch. Lionel can’t even stand still as he says God took control of Willie and gave him a Donny Hathaway/Luther Vandross moment. Brilliant! Katy calls Willie “possessed in a Godly way.”
8:43 p.m. — Next to advance is Deshawn Goncalves. He is singing “Feeling Good” by Nina Simone. He begins a Capella while seated at the piano, which is a powerful way to start because he nails every note. I love the drum kick when he rolls into the chorus and Deshawn is looking super charming in a bowtie as he belts out this classic. He stands up and walks to center stage, leaving the keys behind as he works the stage. This is a great improvement from last week. He blunders a note slightly before finishing off with an operatic high note. Lionel says Deshawn owns the piano. Katy says something happened within a week’s span and says he took it to the next level. Luke calls it his best performance and is inspired by his growth.
8:47 p.m. — Wyatt Pike is the next to join the Top 16. He is singing “Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon with guitar in hand. After six ballads, this is a welcome change of pace. Wyatt has that singer/songwriter vibe and a gritty tone. He also has a charm about him I think viewers will respond to. He isn’t the best singer in the competition, but he knows how to sell himself and that can often-times take you further. Katy calls him an “authentic singer/songwriter” and would like to see him do a scaled-down performance in the future. Luke says Wyatt will be able to do music for the rest of his life. Lionel applauds his style and says Wyatt is on his way to “something big.”
8:55 p.m. — The final singer to advance from the first group is Cassandra Coleman. She bursts into tears, but better get herself together quick because she needs to sing. Singing “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak. I love this song and it’s the perfect song choice for her ethereal vocal style. Her vibrato is always quick, but she sounds extra shaky tonight and is probably having trouble with her nerves. She misses quite a few notes and is probably giving the worst performance of the eight announced so far. Still, there’s something I find captivating about her. The judges appear to love her vocal tonight more than I did, giving her a standing ovation. Luke applauded her choruses. Lionel wants her to stop concentrating and just step into her voice. Katy is thrilled Cassandra gets another shot and would love to see what she does on tour one day.
8:57 p.m. — With the top eight singers from the first group announced, we have confirmation that these four contestants have been eliminated: Alana, Andrea Valles, Anilee List and Cecil Ray.
9:05 p.m. — The second half of the Top 24 takes a seat in the lounge to hear their fate. The first of them cracking the Top 16 is Caleb Kennedy. This young country artist is singing “Midnight Train to Memphis” by Chris Stapleton and I appreciate that he’s singing a fun, country banger while playing guitar. There’s a grit to Caleb that isn’t forced and I think the country fan base is going to love him. He isn’t the greatest singer, but he has personality and an authentic voice. He nailed this performance. Lionel is convinced Caleb has ice water in his veins because he sings the hell out of a song and then stands there, stone cold, waiting for their comments. Katy says she can never see his eyes, but she kinds of likes it. She loves his “country outlaw” persona. Luke is impressed the 16-year old sticks to his guns and isn’t manipulated by everything going on around him.
9:10 p.m. — Continuing on in the competition and taking the stage next is Colin Jamieson. He’s singing “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears. Colin has his hair flowing as he glares into the camera and smiles. Is anyone reading this old enough to remember the season with Constantine Maroulis? Colin gives me the same vibe. He’s a total ham and it’s obvious he absolutely loves the stage. This is a nice performance. I’m not blown away or disappointed and I liked the song choice. Katy is impressed by his vocal performance and loves how he plays to the cameras. Luke says Colin works the camera, but he can also sing his but off. Lionel says Colin has learned to play to the camera and understands “showbusiness.”
9:20 p.m. — Results continue with Casey Bishop learning she has made the Top 16. Tonight she’s singing “Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden and I’m impressed this 16-year old refuses to let go of her love of rock music. She softly caresses the notes throughout the first verse and she really has a pretty voice. Things get gritty when she hits the chorus and Casey shows a lot of star power for such a young singer. She takes the vocals up a notch at the end and I think Casey is one of the standouts of the night. Luke says Casey can sing anything she wants to. Lionel thinks she is “fascinating to watch” because she starts out as a fairy princess and ends up like Janis Joplin. Katy calls it Casey’s best performance to date and says she’s “dangerous.”
9:30 p.m. — Next to advance is Madison Watkins. She’s singing “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles and I like her soft approach on the first verse. This seems like a much better showcase for her voice than her song last week. Madison is striking and has some of the best stage presence in the competition, but her vocals don’t always measure up. But for this performance she’s firing on all cylinders and I enjoy it. Lionel calls her a storyteller with perfect presentation. Katy says Madison surprised her and she was locked in from the first note. Luke says Madison deserves to be exactly where she is and delivered a flawless vocal.
9:35 p.m. — The music train keeps chugging as Beane is announced as the next singer in the Top 16. Tonight he’s singing “Searching for a Feeling” by Thirdstory. I’m not hip enough to know this song, but I like Beane’s delivery of it. He’s like a hybrid of Mr. Rogers and George Michael. He’s veered from the artist we saw in his audition and Beane has really stepped into the image of a pop star with a punk edge. He’s capable of better vocals than he’s giving tonight, but I like that he is showing his ability to command the stage. Katy says this is a new shade of Beane and she loves him. Luke says Beane makes people smile and backs it up with amazing vocals. Lionel says that people falling in love with an artist is “the game” and calls Beane “inviting.”
9:45 p.m. — Next to join the Top 16 is Hunter Metts. I call him the heartthrob of Season 19 and didn’t think he gave a very good performance last night, so let’s see how he does tonight singing “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver. He’s playing guitar as he projects his unique vocals and I’m already more impressed. Hunter’s ace up his sleeve is his tone and he really needs to embrace that. He doesn’t need to do a whole lot vocally because the natural sound of his voice is beautiful. This is better than a week ago and Hunter is looking comfortable up there tonight. Luke is happy to finally hear some “angst” in his music. Lionel says Hunter has “instant identity.” Katy says his growl was awesome.
9:50 p.m. — Ava August is next to hear that she will continue on as the youngest contestant this season. Tonight the 15-year old is singing “2002” by Anne-Marie. This starts as an intimate performance with Ava behind the keyboard before she pulls off the mic and hits center stage. She has an incredible presence for her age and reminds me of Taylor Swift. She’s not the strongest vocalist, but she’s a star. Lionel declares Ava “15 and dangerous” and is proud of her for breaking through like this. Katy thought she was more elegant last week and reminds Ava that classic always trumps cool. Luke tells her not to leave them wanting for those more graceful moments.
9:59 p.m. — The last artist advancing into the Top 16 is Chayce Beckham. Tonight he’s singing “Waiting in Vain” by Bob Marley and the Wailers. He’s scaling it down by performing with his guitar on a stool and he sounds great. There’s just star power oozing from this guy and I have a hard time believing anyone can top him. He’s certainly my early pick to win it all. But it’s tough to remain the front-runner all season. People like an underdog, so we’ll see! But Chayce is singing like a pro for the second week in a row and he looks like a professional artist stopping by for a promotional appearance. Katy says Chayce “checks all the boxes.” Luke asks Chayce to email him on how to be cool. Lionel says Chayce isn’t about glitz and glamor and America has fallen in love with him.
10:00 p.m. — With the Top 16 complete, we learn the following artists from the second group have been eliminated: Hannah Everhart, Jason Warrior, Liahona Olayan and Mary Jo Young. Voting is open for the Top 16 and tomorrow the Top 12 will be revealed. America will choose 10 and the judges will save two. That’s a wrap for tonight!