Tonight, the American Idol 2019 Top 14 sing for YOUR votes for the FIRST TIME this season. It’s the only overnight vote before real time coast to coast voting begins next Sunday (April 21). On Monday (April 15) after an overnight vote, SEVEN singers chosen by the fans will advance to the Top 10. The judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan will choose the remaining three as Wildcards. Here is how to VOTE. Y’all can start voting AT THE TOP OF THE SHOW:
Song Spoilers below! NO SPOILER DISCUSSION ON THE LIVE BLOG. Keep spoiler talk under the spoilers posts, please.
This episode was filmed Friday night (April 12). Ryan mentions the great buzz around this season’s contestants. That is not hyperbole! This Top 14 is brimming with talented singers. OK Ryan “The best in Idol history” most definitely is hyperbole! (Ya gonna p*ss off the stans.)
Laine Hardy – That’s Alright Mama by Elvis Presley with guitar – Oh. So all that fan chatter about Laine going Hollywood since last season reached TPTB. The singer’s package stresses his Louisiana roots. Laine promises that he’s the same old dude who loves to hunt and fish on the Bayou. It’s another solid performance from Laine. But I feel like I’ve seen this performance before? He’s really transformed into a compelling performer. But if he really hasn’t gone Hollywood? Maybe picking a glitzy Elvis song isn’t the way to illustrate the point. STILL. Laine is the one to beat in this competition. “You know your strengths and you’re playing them well,” says Katy. She calls him a “good looking boy.” Luke wanted him to let completely go like Elvis did back in the day. “Your voice has come so far from last year.” TRUE! Lionel suggests that he keep doing what he’s doing. The Elvis persona is Laine playing to the aging Idol demographic, I bet.
Evelyn Cormier – The Middle by Jimmy Eats World – OOOH. Evelyn admits appearing on 90 Day Fiance. “I want to be known for my music,” she says (And not for playing the villain in a cheesy TLC reality show? Heh.). Back home in New Hampshire, she performs in a family band with her siblings. Evelyn knows her voice is odd, and she’s proud of it. Might as well own it, girl. The electric guitars kick right in. I was expecting a ballad flip. Hm. This is sort of weird. Her voice is so whispery and strange. It’s not suited to pop punk. She’s barely moving and sounds out of breath. This song choice is VERY BAD. She should have re-arranged it into something more singer/songwriter at the very least. Luke comments on her “Van Halen leg kick…We like to see a whole nother element.” Lionel says, “That’s what show business is all about.” Katy calls it a “great song choice” and a “crowd pleaser.” She thanks Evelyn for “taking a chance.” Why are the judges gushing over this performance. Performing second? She’s done unless she’s picked as a wildcard.
Alyssa Raghu – She Used to Be Mine by Sara Bareilles – Alyssa is in tears. She’s so grateful to have made it to the Top 14. She notes people around her assume she’s older. Which is true. Her dress is very pretty! This performance has some very nice moments. I wish she brought more passion. Maybe I’m used to how Sarah and the Broadway singers interpret it. When done well, “Used to Be Mine” knocks people out of their seats. Lionel says, “The sauce is on fire.” Why are the judges overpraising these performances? “You have now gone to that next stage,” he says. The performance was like being at her concert, Katy says. “You gave it all to us.” She does mention that Alyssa needs to work on her dynamics. “Keep the audience engaged through the whole performance,” says Luke. Aw. Alyssa’s dad is in tears again.
Mentor Bobby Bones is here! He calls the Top 14 “quality singers” and notes how diverse they are. “Whatever Alejandro is!” Bobby quips. He calls the vote “crucial.” and reminds the singers that Idol is also a popularity contest. “America has to love you while you sing your face off.”
Eddie Island – Benny and the Jets by Elton John – He was a chubby, depressed kid in middle school. As he reveals this personal tidbit, he begins giggling. He can’t own a serious moment, poor kid. After he lost 60 pounds in high school, he felt he could do anything. He’s channeling Elton with round yellow glasses and a flamboyant jacket. His voice cracks on a few of the notes. This isn’t an easy song to pull off. Haley Reinhart pulled this song off back in Season 10 because she re-arranged it to suit her sultry style. Attempting to imitate Elton is the worst idea. Bye bye Eddie. Go forth and learn who you are as an artist. There’s a good voice in there somewhere. “I thought it was really good,” says Katy. She feels overwhelmed by the energy. “Don’t forget that you’re such a magnificent singer.” Luke says, “You are here because you make us smile. Vocally, make sure you stay on top of that.” Lionel is impressed that he stays true to himself.
Riley Thompson – Suds in a Bucket by Sara Evans – Back home, she had a fun reunion with her cheer team. But little sister is her biggest fan. This song was the end of Kellie Pickler back in season 5. It’s a fun performance, but a throwaway. She knows how to work the stage, but all feels very pageant perfect. Her voice is not quite there yet, either. Advice: Wait a couple of years, then audition for The Voice. “How does it feel becoming a star?” asks Luke. He compliments her on hitting the high note. “This has been the attack of the 16 year,” says Lionel. “You are crushing it.” Katy believes she keeps growing to the next level. Katy noted the hair flip. Ryan invites little sister to join Riley on stage.
Wade Cota – Trouble by Ray LaMontagne – Wade has gotten tons of fan mail from people who relate to his domestic violence story. Initially, he sang heavy metal. (His mom managed heavy metal bands). Maybe that’s how he developed that heavy, heavy rasp. The song choice suits his style. He does have an unusual instrument, and here he makes the most of it. His phrasing is surprisingly subtle at times. Lionel is on his feet, calling him “Wade the hammer…you dropped the hammer.” CALM DOWN LIONEL. “You picked the right song,” oberves Katy. “I believe in your voice so much.” Luke notes that he uses his whole body to sing. “It fires us up.”
Dimitrius Graham – Perfect by Ed Sheeran – He grew up in a rough Baltimore neighborhood. But his mother got him into music education where he studied opera. Demetrius takes “Perfect” to a whole new level, beginning delicitaly, before hitting an impassioned crescendo. There were some pitchy moments, but I love his style and that he takes risks. “You’ve really developed into an artist,” says Katy. “Use that emotion,” she says. “Bring that every single time.” Luke reminds him to “remember to work that microphone.” Lionel notes his “explosive” quality. “Give us that for the rest of your career,” he says. Dimitrius tried to add a “little r&b mix” to the song.
Madison Vandenburg – Fallin’ by Alicia Keys – Being compared to Kelly Clarkson is great, but Madison hopes people see her as a unique artist. Her parents divorced, and it was tough on her. She’s closer to her dad. When she begins the song acapella from behind the piano, Madison is all bluesy and smooth. That is, until she grabs the mic and works the stage like a pro. WOW. Madison’s powerful vocals Are a wakeup call. Now we have a show. Luke says, “You just really made a statement.” Lionel says, “We need security on this set! You killed it.” Katy says, “We love Kelly Clarkson, but you just carved out your own niche. Please keep giving that and more.”
Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon – We All Fall in Love Sometimes by Elton John – Here’s the moment where Jeremiah’s narrative turns to redemption. His religious parents didn’t accept him when he came out as gay. But recently he attended his sister’s wedding, and now he and his parents are working toward a new understanding. Jeremiah sits behind an electric piano to deliver another beautiful performance. His range is so impressive. And he delivers it all with so much passion and feeling. It’s a transcendent performance. “You Jeremiah’ed the whole thing,” gushes Lionel. “You went to a Z flat to Pluto or Mars. That was amazing. You’re career is going to be amazing.” Lionel believes Jeremiah can singer higher than even Freddie Mercury, which should stir some controversy. Katy cries, “I’m a mess. I’m so proud. You’re such a gift. Your talent supersedes all.” Luke says, “I’m not worthy to be sitting here watching.” Ryan claims he’s never seen so many back to back incredible performances on Idol. LIKE EVER!
Uche – Finesse by Bruno Mars – When Lionel changed his vote after Uche’s audition, it set a fire under him. His family moved to the US from Nigeria. Being the only African in his class made Uche feel like an outcast. He realizes he’s not the best singer in the competition, but he promises to “leave everything on stage.” He’s not kidding. Uche goes all out with the hip rolls and sexy moves. He must be working with choreographers. The dancing is entertaining without running the poor guy ragged to the point of ruining the vocal. Bonus: An instrumental break that allows Uche to let loose. SO entertaining. Katy faints on the table, while Luke does CPR. “Are we allowed to show that performance on television?” asks Katy. “You’ve come so far, it’s miraculous.” Luke compares it to opening an awards show. “You are wonderful,” shouts Lionel. “You are the showstopper!”
Bobby Bones gushes over how great tonight’s performances have been.
Alejandro Aranda – One Dance by Drake – Alejandro’s social media stats exploded after his audition. He mentions how receiving a compliment from Stevie Nicks blew his mind. Alejandro explains that he plans to mix in his love for electronic music. Indeed, he performs and plays from behind a DJ setup. If Idol’s very first electronic musician, season six alum Blake Lewis is watching, he’s gotta be hella jealous. He couldn’t even play an instrument back then. “In my eyes you can do know wrong,” says Luke. “Now you are DJ Alejandro,” says Lionel. “You are so versatile!” Katy calls it “incredibly smooth…you’re a real true artist…but don’t forget to grow.” Alejandro DJing his own performance is a first, not only for American Idol, but American singing shows in general. Alejandro’s artistry never fails to impress me. But that vocal performance was too chill. In the end, artists shouldn’t forget that American Idol IS a singing show, first and foremost.
Ashley Hess – Fix You by Coldplay – Oh look! Ashley is dating James VIII from Season 15. He’s been really supportive and helpful, she says. Because this song is so overdone on singing shows, I wish she had switched up the arrangement. Still, she delivers a lovely understated performance. That killer phrasing gets me every time. Lionel declares, “Everyone is ruling tonight.” Katy says, “You look like Diana Krall, and you sound like Carole King.” Luke is impressed that she chose a song that embodies her talent.
Laci Kaye Booth – I Miss You by Blink 182 – After her audition, she headed home to work her family’s crawfish restaurant. She’s been dreaming of competing on American Idol nearly her entire life. Once again, Laci transforms an indie rock song into a tender ballad. She’s getting away from her country roots here. But I don’t care? This is an exquisite performance. Her raspy, quavering tone is front and center and it’s pretty perfect. If country teen Riley makes the Top 10, it’s probably smart to for Laci to claim a different lane. Katy says, “You sing timelessly. You are the definition of Idol. I’m your number one fan.” Lacy called herself out for a bad spray tan during her video package, which Luke loved. Lionel is very much a proud papa.
Walker Burroughs – Climb Every Mountain from Sound of Music – Walker misses his friends and family back home. He tears up thinking about them. Natty in a bow tie! Walker takes a big risk choosing the huge and beloved “Climb Every Mountain” from Sound of Music. Will he pull it off? He has some pitchy moments. The song is too big for him, ultimately. He could have scaled the arrangement back, maybe sang an acoustic version behind the piano. This performance has its moments, but is uneven. I give him a ton of credit for going out on a limb. In the end, Walker is an artist, and I appreciate that about him. Luke calls the performance, “interesting.” I’ll agree with that. Lionel notes, “You have grown so much.” Lionel relies on so many cliches, we need a drinking game. “There were notes that we never heard from you,” says Katy. “This is your purpose.”