‘American Idol’ recap: Top 4 sing three songs each in hopes of making final [UPDATING LIVE BLOG]

American Idol” is just one week away from the season 19 final. On Sunday, May 16 the T0p 4Chayce Beckham, Casey Bishop, Grace Kinstler and Willie Spence — will sing three songs apiece: a personal tribute, a duet produced by guest mentor Finneas; and their winner’s single. There was to be a fifth semifinalist, Caleb Kennedy. After video surfaced in which he was sitting next to a man in a white hood, he left the show.

The producers opted not to invite back one of the Top 7 contestants — Arthur Gunn or Hunter Metts — who was eliminated last Sunday. It would have been the second comeback this season for Gunn.  The season 18 runner-up earned his spot in the Top 10 by winning the Comeback Special, which aired on April 19.

Below, follow along with all the action in our live blog recap of Night 17 Season 19 episode of “American Idol” and find out which two contestants were eliminated.

8:00 p.m. — In the end, only three singers can advance to the Season 19 finale. Who will win over America’s vote? Let’s get started!

8:10 p.m. — Chayce is up first tonight and guest mentor Finneas calls his tone “earnest” and “believable.” Throughout his mentoring session, Chayce says he plans to change things up for his performance of Zac Brown Band‘s “Colder Weather” by putting down the guitar. But when the performance starts I notice Chayce is still playing the guitar, so I guess that plan got scrapped. I think this is a  smart song choice for Chayce because it fits his voice well and may pull in some of those country fans who have nowhere else to turn after Caleb’s exit. Katy loves how he uses his guitar on stage and wasn’t disappointed he played it on this song. Luke says Chayce is “real.” Lionel says America fell in love with Chayce and who he is as a person.

8:20 p.m. — Casey is beside herself with this week’s mentor because her idol is his sister, Billie. In fact, Casey will be singing “wish you were gay,” which Eilish wrote with Finneas. He compliments her “rich tone” and can’t believe she’s only 16. This isn’t the song I would choose for a singing contest, but Casey has a lot of star power and each week she looks more confident. I think this was a solid performance, but the judges look blown away. Luke says Casey just crushed every aspect of that performance and it was the perfect song choice. Lionel says Casey now owns her persona and makes them wonder, what is she going to do next? Katy says Casey found her stardust.

8:30 p.m. — 2019 winner Laine Hardy drops by to announce he released his new single on May 14 and has an album coming out in the fall. Next, it’s Grace’s turn to perform and she let Finneas know she’s singing “A Moment Like This” by Kelly Clarkson. Finneas says Grace’s voice is incredible and she just needs to perform like she’s in love with the song. She has a similar vocal tone to Kelly’s and it’s no surprise she’s nailing this performance. Grace fits the mold of that traditional Idol winner from the early years, but is she still what audiences are looking for? It will be interesting to find out. Lionel says Grace is fresh to everything else in the world and that’s what makes a star. Katy says her cousins at home are cheering for Grace and encourages people at home to vote for the powerhouse vocalist. Luke compliments Grace for her confidence and loves her “eye of the tiger.”

8:40 p.m. — Willie is last up tonight and he will perform “Glory” by his idol, John Legend. Finneas jokes that Legend is on “The Voice,” but Willie responds he likes this show a little better. I don’t know if there could be a better song to showcase Willie’s voice than this and he’s taking full advantage of it. He wisely started off soft at the beginning and is building to a beautiful crescendo. I get a little annoyed that all of Willie’s performances are basically the same, but I have to say this is the best of them all. He nailed it. Katy says she is so glad Willie brought us to church and called it “spiritual.” Luke says Willie will literally save peoples’ lives with his voice and bring people out of darkness. Lionel compliments Willie’s aura and says his presentation is “stellar.”

8:45 p.m.Ashe & Finneas perform their duet of “Till Forever Falls Apart,” giving us a brief intermission before the duets round.

9:00 p.m. — Chayce is next singing his original song and first single, “23.” It’s sitting at #11 on the iTunes chart as I write this, so I’d say he’s off to a pretty good start! It’s a got a country/rock vibe and after listening to his last two performances, Chayce might be wise to pursue a career in country music rather than rock. Next Chayce transitions into “You Should Probably Leave” by Chris Stapleton. It’s interesting to see him move from one song to the next, it’s like each artist is having their own mini set on a concert tour. Chayce isn’t the most vocally interesting person on this show, but he does have that “full package” judges talk about and a star quality about him. He’s just so cool and relaxed up there. Luke loves the way Chayce worked the production on “23.” Lionel asks, “Who have you turned into?” Katy mentions that Chayce’s song is #1 on the country charts right now. Humble brag.

9:10 p.m. — Casey is up now singing her first single, “Love Me, Leave Me.” This song sounds ready for radio right now and I could see this becoming a hit for this teenager. Next she segues into Motley Crue’s “Live Wire.” I’m so glad we get to see her perform this with a live band. She auditioned with this a cappella but this is the true rock experience we need with this song. I sort of feel like I’m watching a superstar emerge right now. She gets better and better every week. Wow! Lionel screams, “What was that?!” He says she can be so whimsical and then drop a bomb. Katy says “Love Me, Leave Me” is her favorite song right now.

9:15 p.m. — Next Grace and Willie are performing a duet called “What They’ll Say About Us.” He says if he had known them when he wrote this he would have given them this song immediately. It’s a pretty song and they each sound good individually, but I don’t really care for how the voices of Grace and Willie blend together. I didn’t really feel the emotion I think I was supposed to from this performance.

9:35 p.m. — After a special performance from the resident country judge, Luke, Michael J. Woodard returns to announce Katy has signed him and his debut single “Why You Texting Me?” comes out on Friday. He was a Top 5 contestant from 2016 and now might have a hit on his hands! Then Grace hits the stage with her debut performance of her single “Love Someone.” It definitely has a Kelly Clarkson or Adele vibe and it sits nicely in Grace’s register. Next she sings “Father” by Demi Lovato as a tribute to her late dad. When she hits the bridge of this song I just got goosebumps. This was by her best performance of the night and I can’t figure out who is the front-runner of this contest anymore. Luke calls it “yet another great performance,” Lionel says Grace came to the show being herself and they just gave her a platform, and Katy felt touched by her performance.

9:45 p.m. — Willie is up next singing his first single “Never Be Alone,” which is a sweeping ballad but probably the least interesting of the four semifinalists. Things get more interesting when he switches to “I Was Here” by Beyonce, but I’m still disappointed we haven’t heard anything but ballads from Willie for the entire season. Literally not one performance. I don’t think he can win this way. But can he sing? Of course. And Lionel says he has the presence of a giant and his expression comes out of his God-given talent. Katy gets chills every time Willie sings. Luke calls Willie a sweet teddy bear who goes into beast mode on stage.

9:55 p.m. — The last performance of the night will be a duet of “Break My Heart Again” by Casey and Chayce. I like the way their voices blend together. Chayce looks a little confused about what to do with his body when he’s not holding a guitar, but he sounds good. Casey sounds great and seems to be able to let herself feel the music a little more naturally. Overall it was a good performance. Next, one person will be eliminated live. Yikes!

9:59 p.m. — Dim the lights! It’s time to find out who will be competing in the Season 19 finale. Ryan says this is probably the best Top 4 they’ve ever had. He then announces that Chayce, Willie and Grace will compete for the title. Casey has been eliminated, but the 16-year old shouldn’t feel bad. She has a bright future ahead of her! That’s a wrap.

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

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