American Idol 2019 Top 20 sing solos for the judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan. Host Ryan Seacrest and mentor Bobby Bones will also be on hand to help the contestants as they get ready for this critical round.
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The singers are performing in the historic Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles. Tonight the Top 20 perform solos. NEXT week the singers pair up with celebrity duet partners. After, the judges will choose the Top 14.
Madison VanDenburg – Domino by Jessie J. – Madison performs another upbeat number. While her voice sounds a little scratchy tonight, she’s bringing confidence to her performance. Very entertaining. Madison is hitting those high notes. For the first time, I see the Kelly Clarkson comparison. Katy loves her story. Madison, apparently, Idol didn’t cast her. She showed up at a bus audition. Katy brings up the Kelly thing again. The judges need to stop that now. Allow Madison to be judges without impossible comparisons. Also, Katy wants more “long notes.” It’s probably time for Madison to go back to the ballad bucket. Luke thinks she makes it look easy. “Stage presence is everything. Play the stage, play the audience,” Lionel says.
Shawn Robinson – Jealous by Nick Jonas – Shawn refers to himself as a “mama’s boy” who has been bullied for his voice. Shawn can sing, he hits the notes, but there’s something missing here. The performance feels lackadaisical, like he’s holding back. “Way to hold out a note until this moment,” says Luke. “You got the voice.” He advises him to “shake it out.” Lionel says, “Keep lifting yourself to the next level.” Katy reminds him not to forget his beautiful low notes.
Laine Hardy– Bring it On Home to Me by Sam Cooke – Laine is KILLING IT THIS SEASON KILLING IT. If he keeps up these assured performances, he could win it ya’ll. His confidence is palpable. The pitch problems of the past are long gone. The arrangement of this classic song starts slow and soulful but in a surprise twist, the pace quickens into a gospel rave. It ends with a big New Orleans style finish. “We are in trouble now,” says Lionel. “I’m scared of you,” says Katy. “You are literally commanding the stage. I’m so glad we don’t get to pick our top 10. Luke is happy with his growth and admires Laine for trying to win.
Uché Ndubizu – Figures by Jessie Reyez – For the Top 40, Uche brought the 70’s funk. For the Top 20 he’s bringing some Prince realness. For the first time I see him delivering great vocals alongside a great performance. Uche CAN sing up a storm, while working the stage like a boss. He’s mesmerizing. Katy stands up and faints dead away. ‘Who the hell are you?” says Lionel. Luke can’t believe they almost sent him home at the auditions.
Eddie Island – Ho Hey by The Lumineers – I’ve been hot and cold on this Eddie. Tonight I am definitely HOT. I’m still not sure where he’s coming from as an artist, but he’s got a unique, authentic sound. Not perfect–but compelling. “I think you’re taking this serious,” says Lionel. Katy says, “You have all of it.” Luke says, “You can’t teach personality, originality…you perfectly nailed what we wanted.
Evelyn Cormier – Leaving on a Jet Plane by John Denver – Evelyn’s approach is original, but I get stuck on her enunciation and phrasing. Stylized vocals only work if they feel organic. It feels as if she practices her quirks in front of a mirror. Katy feels Evelyn found her authentic self. Luke didn’t get her at first. But he’s on board now. Lionel says, “Anyone can be a singer. Careers are built on being a stylist.”
Alyssa Raghu – Ain’t It Fun by Paramore – It’s obvious Alyssa has been working on her stage presence, dance moves and pop star chops. But I don’t think a song like this stretches her vocally. She’s an impressive singer, which a casual watcher would never know from her last couple of performances. Hopefully she’ll emphasise her beautiful instrument from now on. Luke calls the song “fun” but agrees with me. Maybe not the song to show off her vocal. Lionel thought she was inside her head during the first half. “Give us your natural self.” Katy wants to hear “those notes I know Ragu has.”
Ryan Hammond – You Say by Lauren Daigle – Ryan’s dad, in the audience, is literally clutching his heart. Ryan brings power and passion to the stage. But his performances are beginning to blend together. Ryan will have no staying power if he doesn’t show some versatility. “You have a storytelling voice,” says Lionel. “I want you to own the stage. Sell what you have.” Luke says, “You can elevate the room with power of your voice.”
Raquel Trinidad– Lovefool by The Cardigans – Raquel has barely been seen. We got a look at her in Hollywood and Showcase, but only briefly. This performance is karaoke and a bit on the cheesy side. Katy thinks she’s becoming an artist. Based on that song choice? I don’t think so. Luke was having trouble in the verses. “It really came alive for me once you hit the chorus.” Lionel says, “Don’t try to be anything your not. That little quirky thing you’ve got, keep it forever.”
Logan Johnson – Love Don’t Live Here Anymore by City and Color – OMG the audience members’ offbeat hand waving STOPPP. Heh. Not a great song choice. Logan has a pleasant voice, but this performance goes nowhere. Boring. Luke says it started “sleepy.” Yeah. And it stayed that way. Lionel thinks he was trying to be “sexy.” Hm. “We got to bump you up a couple of notches on sexy.” Several. Katy compares his performance to a rehearsal. Ouch. She felt he came alive at the end. Not really!
Dimitrius Graham – Hello by Adele – Uhm. Did he just begin his performance with an opera note? That was crazy. Now that’s how to make a song your own. After a couple of karaoke-like performances, were back on track. That performance was out there in spots. But I appreciate the singer’s risk taking. “Everytime you open your mouth, we find somebody else inside. That is the way you are supposed to do this show.” Katy says, “You’ve got it all, just know when to use it.” Luke also advises him to be careful not to overdo it. Reading between the lines, it seems Dimitrius’ audition was all over the place. Probably why it didn’t air.
Riley Thompson – Jolene by Dolly Parton – Riley has an authentic and appealing country voice, but at 16, she needs to marinate for a few more years. She’s stiff on stage and her delivery is a bit unsure. Katy says, “It’s got a lot of grit. I want a bit more.” Luke says, “Don’t be afraid to miss a note. Make it gritty.” Lionel says, “You’re growing right in front of us.” Yes. She’s tentative on stage. It’s almost uncomfortable to watch.
Walker Burroughs – How Deep Is Your Love? by The Bee Gees – He sits on the edge of the stage and sings a’cappella to start. Walker isn’t the best singer, but I do appreciate his artistry. He’s another contestant willing to take risks. He’s changed up every cover he’s performed. He knows who he is, and that’s appealing. I didn’t love some of the melody changes made here, but overall it’s an impressive performance. Luke says he’s like a “seasoned pro.” Lionel says, “You’re on your way.” Katy loved the song choice. “If you dress like Harry Potter and you sing. You will win this show!” she says.
Bumbly – Vision Of Love by Mariah Carey – Welp. Taking on Mariah. Good luck girl. Bumbly isn’t a power singer, but she is adding her own flair. The problem is, the song is tough to sing and it’s owning her rather than the other way around. Too many pitchy notes. She doesn’t seem entirely comfortable on stage. Like many before her, Bumbly has bit off more than she can chew. Lionel advises her to “relax and sing, you’ve got the goods.” Katy didn’t like the song choice, but she still loves her. Luke wants her to “walk out and be free with it.”
Ashley Hess – Dreaming With A Broken Heart by John Mayer – Ashley is back behind the piano where she belongs. I love her tone and phrasing. Her range is impressive and so effortless. Another gorgeous performance from Ashley. “I thought I was at your show,” gushes Katy. Luke loves her “mid range sultry deal.” He calls it “world class iconic.” Lionel says, “That is about as solid a performance…a treat to watch.”
Alejandro Aranda – Fall Apart by Post Malone – I love me some Alejandro, but this performance is a little TOO chill, even for me. The urgency that typically underlies his subtle arrangements is missing here. Also, the limitation of his singing voice could be a problem. I hope the voice coaches are helping him stretch his vocals to the limit. “There’s been nothing like you,” says Lionel. “Your so much cooler than I,” says Katy. She calls the arrangement, ‘next level.”
Kate Barnette – Sunday Morning by Maroon 5 – WELL SHE’S COOL. Where have you been Kate? I like your soulful, jazzy style. She seems nervous though, as if glad handing a crowd is definitely not in her wheelhouse. Katy calls it “All so natural.” She feels she finally knows who she is. Luke thinks she’s developed a style that’s her own. Lionel wants to know where she gets the funk from.
Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon – Make You Feel My Love by Bob Dylan/Billy Joel – I was unsure about Jeremiah’s song choice as he sang the verse. But when he hit the bridge, his masterful phrasing won me over. He’s an impeccable song stylist whose understated vocals still manage to deliver an emotional punch. Jeremiah’s brilliance lies in his subtlety. Lionel calls it a brilliant performance. Katy is “so beyond moved…I think you are an important contribution to music.” Luke says, “Great job.”
Laci Kaye Booth – I Want You To Want Me by Cheap Trick – I was wondering how Laci would countrify this country classic. She slows it up and plays acoustic guitar. The lyrics lend to the treatment. And while she could have strummed her way through the performance, she bring some heat to the chorus. A+ arrangement. Definitely the right song at the right time. The judges are on their feet. “You just showed us a whole nother level of confidence,” says Katy. Luke was afraid the performance would be cheesy. But no! Lionel says, “You have found your identity.”
Wade Cota – All I Want by Kodaline – Wade whisper rasps through the verse, as if his voice is damaged. I want to hand the dude a lozenge. He sounds stronger on the chorus by switching to an unpleasant guttural tone. Your mileage may vary on his style, but I find it unpleasant. “A star is born,” says Luke. Lionel says, “The music business needs to be inspired…that voice you have, I know that’s you my friend.” Katy is grateful that they get to nurture and support him. Eh. I don’t understand why the judges seem to be all in for Wade. Ryan brings Wade’s mom on stage for a mother and son hug.