American Idol 2019 Top 20 sing ALL STAR DUETS for the judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan. Host Ryan Seacrest tonight (April 7) and tomorrow night (April 8). Mentor Bobby Bones will also be on hand to help the contestants as they prepare for this critical round. At the end of each episode, SEVEN singers move on to the Top 14. Three are sent home.
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The singers are performing in the historic Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles.
Walker Burroughs & Jason Mraz – Have it All by Jason Mraz – Walker has loved Mraz since he was a kid. “This is super cool for me,” the singer enthuses. Jason thinks Walker has got “tremendous talent,” but he warns him not to “dress it up in cool.” Be authentic, he says, “Just be Walker.” Those are all good points. I’m hot and cold on Walker, and I think Jason explains why. The more genuine Walker is, the more I enjoy him. Having said that. I don’t love this song, generally. I’ll just say, I appreciate Walker’s musicality and originality. Luke compliments the duo’s harmonies. “You walk up on stage and we automatically smile,” he says about Walker. “You’re making wearing a pair of glasses, sexy,” says Lionel, “that was a perfect performance.” Katy is wearing her engagement ring! She loved their stage moves, and effortless vocals.
Kate Barnette (with guitar) & Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo – Heartbreaker by Pat Benatar – It’s the first song that the iconic rocker recorded for her first record. Kate’s religious parents didn’t allow her to listen to pop music, but she managed to hear the song on a video game. “Get right behind those lyrics and just burn it,” Pat advises. Although she has only been playing for a year, Neil asks Kate to play the guitar solo. “Kate really has to be defiant with her vocal,” says Neil. Unfortunately, Kate’s voice is too gentle for the song. She attempts a rock wail at the end and it has no oomph. Pat needs to hold back to match her. Neither the song or duet partners were a good match for Kate. Kate’s solo was bluesy, jazzy. Balls to the walls rock is not her thing. Katie believes the song helped Kate mature. But her most effusive compliments were for Pat’s still sturdy vocals. Luke felt the song took her out of her comfort zone. You think? Lionel advises Kate to remember the experience and learn from it. Judges comments boiled down to their essence: Nice try, kid. Be glad you had the experience.
Riley Thompson & Brett Young – Like I Loved You by Brett Young – For the 16 year old, it’s her very first duet ever. She’s only been singing for two years. Well, that explains her lack of polish. The lyrics are about mature love. Just remember not to smile your way through the song. It’s not a beauty pageant, kid. Brett compares her to Dolly Parton. “I think Riley has something special,” he says. Brett is doing all the emotional heavy lifting, allowing Riley to concentrate on her pure country tone. She has such a pretty voice. She’s just a few years out from being fully baked. “I listen to him every day in my medical terminology class!” Riley gushes. “You have grown so much,” says Lionel. “You’re handling this pressure so well. Really great performance.” Katie says, “You gave us the full voice and harmonies. Where did that come from? You had another gear?” says Katie. Luke calls it her best performance. “You look like a real, natural seasoned performer.”
Uché Ndubizu & Shaggy – I Need Your Love by Shaggy, Mohombi, Faydee and Costi – “The personality is huge,” says Shaggy about his new duet partner. This song is a challenge for Uche. Shaggy suggests he do it in full voice. ‘Sing it with your chest.” He’s got to push himself to do that, though. His voice breaks in rehearsal. Shaggy is a terrific singer. He pops. Uche pales in comparison. It doesn’t help that he’s running around on the stage like a maniac. It’s entertaining for sure, but he needs to learn to balance movement/vocals. It all comes down to control. Nice touch: Uche tosses his hat into the audience. “It was such a vibe,” says Katie. She notes he needs to make conscious choices with his runs. Luke says he’s having so much fun on stage, he can afford a vocal slip.
Madison VanDenburg & Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo – We Belong by Pat Benatar – Pat and Neil have been together for over 40 years. The two found out they were pregnant while making the song. It took them 3 long years to conceive their first child. “Madison is a great singer…and has confidence about herself,” says Pat. Neil believes she could win. But Madison admits that she’s a “little nervous.” Nice harmonies. But really, Madison and Kate should have swapped songs. The former could have handled the big vocals. Kate could have shone on the tender melody. But still! Madison’s confidence and strong high harmonies are carrying the song. Her poise and stage presence are impressive. “You literally go toe to toe with her,” says Luke. Lionel notes Madison’s cool, “We never could have done what you have done…you took it to the next level.” Katie says, “You look flawless…your voice is a Ferrari. You should never be afraid to show off.”
Shawn Robinson & Elle King – Proud Mary by Creedence Clearwater Revival – It’s hard to believe former SNL cast member Rob Schneider is her father. IT’S TRUE. Elle suggests the singer “fake it til he makes it” if he’s nervous. Shawn admits that the “upbeat, fast tempoed song” is not what he would have chosen for himself. Yup. He’s never heard the slow swampy Creedence Clearwater original. They struggle with the song until stage rehearsal when Ellie suggests they perform a slower arrangement. The performance is better than I was expecting. The slower tempo allows Shawn to use his sweet soulful tone to play with phrasing. Except OOOPPSSS. He drops an entire line. Yikes. OK. This is actually kind of a disaster. He’s flustered. “Elle has been amazing,” says Shawn. Lionel says, “You and Elle did it perfectly, you took care of business. I love the way you recovered.” Katie says, “I loved that intro. It was so powerful.” Luke says, “I’m in the multiple mistakes a night category. It was a great vocal performance.” It’s too bad the team didn’t figure out sooner that the CCR arrangement was a better fit.
Ashley Hess & Jason Mraz – I’m Yours by Jason Mraz – Justin is not a big fan of a “plan b” when it comes to music. She’s changing the arrangement a little and Jason loves it. “I’m thrilled to hear it re-invented,” he says. She slows it up a lot, behind the piano. Jason approaches the piano as he sings. Oh. This is good! On the second verse, the reggae beat kicks in as Ashley joins him stage. Her inventive phrasing is her strength, not to mention that gorgeous tone. Note the difference from Shawn. Ashley immediately arranged as song she did not choose to her liking, while Shawn was completely flummoxed and at the mercy of the people surrounding him. Katie says, “I love this vibe. Very cool, young hip. So fresh. You guys were totally locked.” Their harmonies WERE impeccable. Luke felt comfortable “watching the whole thing go down.” Lionel agrees it’s going to be tough to make decisions. He calls Ashley’s voice “pristine.”
Bumbly & Shaggy – Angel by Shaggy & Rayvon – Bumbly, a subway performer in New York City, has been struggling with self-confidence. “Negativity is never going to go away,” says Shaggy. He says the best way to deal is to not pay attention to it. “The rhythm is in her,” says Shaggy. “She’ll win them over.” These two have some chemistry. Bumbly’s high sweet tone is the perfect counterpoint to Shaggy’s baritone. She might do well as a feature singer. Bumbly has stage presence–too bad she hasn’t had much screen time. Shaggy clearly enjoyed performing with her. ‘That was a really really great vocal,” says Luke. “A lot of fun.” Katie says, “So cute. I love the sound of your voice. You should be singing songs like this.” Lionel says, “You actually look as if you were having the best time of your life.” Afterward, Shaggy comforts a crying Bumbly (with no context, really!) “You were born to do this,” he assures her.
Laci Kaye Booth & Brett Young – Mercy by Brett Young – Laci is obsessed with his music, “I’m fangirling for sure,” she says. Laci ALWAYS plays with her guitar. But not tonight. “I want to push myself to my limit,” she insists. Brett’s got that nasally country twang thing going. His voice is kind of annoying, actually. But Laci’s raspy vocal is full of character and feeling throughout this beautiful ballad. She hits the harmonies beautifully. Dang, the girl knows how to tell a story. Aw. Laci’s mom is crying in the audience. “That was incredible performance,” says Lionel, “So believable. I thought I was watching a serious love affair on stage. “You sprinkle stardust everywhere,” says Katie. “I don’t want to play favorites but…” Luke says, “When you sing it hits you right in the heart.”
Laine Hardy & Elle King – The Weight by The Band – Laine admits that he’s a “shy person.” Performances are outside of his comfort zone. He struggles with fear. Well, this is the perfect song choice for Laine, especially since he’s sung it before. How are some contestants handed songs they’d never pick in a million years, and Laine is allowed to sing one of his old standbys? Hm. So of course the singer wears the song like a comfortable old shoe. His old man rasp really shines on these country blues classics. The duo kick it up a notch on the third verse, bringing more vibe and energy to the proceedings. What a great way to close the show. Also–great way to close the show! “You look like a rock star,” says Katie. “You sound like a rock star. You got your taste and you aren’t letting go!” Luke calls his voice “recognizable.” Lionel says, “You have really really stepped up. You have developed into a wonderful artist.” Laine gets a surprise visit from his brother Kyle. Aw. TEARS. “It makes me the proudest person in the world seeing him go so far.”
RESULTS: After the break all 10 contestants take the stage. And for the first time this season Ryan announces, KIERAN DIM THE LIGHTS!!!. The judges take turns revealing the seven singers moving on to the Top 14. Once announced, the lucky singers make their way to the shiny stools across the stage. Ha. Laine is the last one announced. As if the contestants standing on stage with him did not know they were toast.
Tomorrow night the remaining 10 singers perform All Star Solos. For the first time ever, Ryan Seacrest is not available to host!!! Mentor Bobby Bones will step in to take his place.
American Idol Top 14
Laci Kaye Booth