American Idol 2021: Comeback Episode Power List, Top 12 Polls

(ABC/Eric McCandless) ARTHUR GUNN

Tonight’s American Idol episode will be a first. Ten singers from the previous season will return to compete for the last spot in the Top 10. I don’t blame the singers for taking the opportunity to sing on the Idol stage. After all, the pandemic interrupted their season last year, forcing them to perform from home. But overall, I don’t believe the format twist is good for the show. 

A new season means new contestants, who deserve their chance up on the stage. Consider that if last night’s Top 9 reveal was a Top 10 reveal instead, Ava August, Madison Watkins or Beane  (the singers eliminated from the Top 12 last night) would have had another chance. Is it fair that a previous year’s contestant will take their place? I don’t think so.

It’s particularly weird that the runner-up, Arthur Gunn, is returning. American Idol didn’t sign him, true. But still! Going far in the competition allowed him to amass a fan base, It’s a thing that eliminated contestants from the current season will miss.

The judges offer confusing advice

Speaking of Sunday night’s Top 12 performances and eliminations. Could the judges advice be more confusing? Poor Ava received several messages all at once. There was mentor Bobby Bones telling her to young it up, while Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan urged her to lean into her “old soul.” 

And then there was Katy Perry telling Grace Kinstler to stay in her lane, complimenting Madison Watkins for picking boring Whitney Houston songs instead of “crazy” picks and then complimenting Beane for taking risks and urging him to stay creative. IT’S VERY CONFUSING KATY. Does she even think about what comes out of her mouth?

Anyway, tonight’s big “Comeback” show was taped last week, so probably no big dramatic moments like a contestant crying inconsolably after forgetting the lyrics to his song. Too bad, really.

Here’s a quick and dirty power list with links to prior performances, in case you can’t even remember who the heck the singer is. The majority of the returnees were cut at the Top 20.

American Idol 20 Comeback Power List

10. Nick Merico (Top 20) – City Lights by Nick Merico – Nick’s audition was pretty good, but then he never matched that performance. He seemed unable to dig really deep. But kudos to him for choosing an original song. – Watch Nick’s Season 18 performances.

9. Aliana Jester (Top 20) – I’ll Never Love Again by Lady Gaga – I’ll never forget Aliana’s Top 20 performance. Her back drop was a bunch of lamps in what looked like a garage, while some of her fellow singers were able to go all out. Her situation illustrated the unfairness of the COVID interruption. That still doesn’t change my mind about the twist. – Watch Aliana’s Season 18 performances.

8. Olivia Ximines – (Top 20) Say Yes by Michelle Williams ft Beyonce & Kelly Rowland – I needed a Youtube search to refresh my memory on Olivia. Turns out she was a teen singer with a pretty decent voice. But in the end, she didn’t make much of an impression – Watch Olivia’s Season 18 performances

7. Cyniah Elise (Top 20) – Edge of Midnight (Midnight Sky Remix) by Miley Cyrus ft Stevie Nicks – Tean singer Cyniah has a powerful voice. In Hollywood, she duetted with fellow Comeback artist, Makayla Phillips. She sang Lady Marmalade in Hawaii. Not a great song pick. Interesting song pick for tonight, however.  – Watch Cyniah’s Season 18 Performances

6. Faith Becnel (Top 20) – Cry Baby by Janis Joplin – Faith suffered last season from a lack of screen time. Unfortunately, that will carry over to the new season, despite having recently dropped a holiday duet with the Season 18 winner, Just Sam. However, she could have a moment with Cry Baby. – Watch Faith’s Season 18 performances

5. DeWayne Crocker Jr. (Top 20) – Voice of God by Dante Bowe ft. Steffany Gretzinger & Chandler Moore – Dwayne seemed like a contender early on. But he got cut at the Top 29. Watch DeWayne’s Season 18 Performances.

4. Franklin Boone (Top 20) – Meant to Live by Switchfoot – I rooted for Franklin during his entire run. His folky, rootsy, gravelly voice SHOULD have propelled him further, in my opinion. His audition “Dreams” audition is worth another watch. Watch Franklin’s Season 18 performances

3. Makayla Phillips (Top 11) – Anyone by Demi Lovato – Mikayla, who also made a splash on America’s Got Talent several years ago, left the competition at the Top 11. Many fans were disappointed that she didn’t go farther. – Watch Makayla Phillips Season 18 Performances.

2. Louis Knight (Top 7) – Maybe That by Louis Knight – And maybe this “power list” is pointless. Because the only Comeback artists who have ANY chance of nabbing that last spot is Louis or Arthur. Louis didn’t make the Top 5, but he’s released a bunch of music this year, and has amassed a fan base. Plus, rumor has it he sings his original song last. – Watch Louis’ Season 18 performances.

1. Arthur Gunn (Runner-up) – Iris by Goo Goo Dolls – Arthur, a season 18 front-runner, finished in second place last season, and could very well end up competing again this year. His song pick is suspect, however. He might have considered performing an original song like Louis. But we’ll see. – Watch Arthur’s Season 18 performances.

Last year’s champion, Just Sam, was not asked back because she has already won the show. Two other top 10 finalists, Dillon James and Francisco Martin, have signed with record labels and so they weren’t eligible to compete again. The outlet confirms.

Voting for “The Comeback” will last a week, to be revealed on May 2

The winner of the “comeback” round will not be revealed until American Idol returns from a week long Oscar break. In fact, voting will be open until Monday April 26 at 6 am ET. The Academy Awards air on Sunday April 25 on ABC. On Monday April 26, the network airs a Sesame Street special. American Idol returns on Sunday May 2 to kick off the Top 10 finals with the announcement of the Comeback winner. 

Top 9 Polls

Favorite Top 12 Performance

Who was robbed?


About mj santilli 35048 Articles
Founder and editor of, home of the awesomest fan community on the net. I love cheesy singing shows of all kinds, whether reality or scripted. I adore American Idol, but also love The Voice, Glee, X Factor and more!