American Idol 2021 goes LIVE tonight for the first time! Additionally, judge Luke Bryan is OUT SICK after testing positive for COVID. Taking his place is none other than veteran American Idol judge, Paula Abdul! She’ll sit alongside Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan as the Top 12 are revealed.
The Top 16 sang for your votes last night. Tonight (April 12), 10 contestants will go straight through to the next round. The remaining six artists will sing for the judges, who will choose two wildcards to round out the Top 12. Ryan Seacrest presides over all of it.
Ryan chats with his old pal Paula Abdul for a bit. There are old photos from the first season, a lot of ribbing and mentions of Simon Cowell.
But then, Ryan makes a shocking announcement like it’s nothing. He announces that Park City Utah native, Wyatt Pike, has dropped out of the competition! I wonder why? Ryan casually mentions that Wyatt “had to drop out” and that everyone “wishes him the best of luck.” Hope everything is OK at home. Remember back to Wyatt’s audition when he shared that he and his sister both struggle with mental health issues.
Casey Bishop is up first, and America voted her into the Top 12. EVERYONE will sing tonight. Those who advance sing “victory songs” those who do not SING FOR THEIR LIVES.
Casey Bishop – House of the Rising Sun – The arrangement is slightly grungy and a little spooky. Casey’s version is full throated and ethereal until she goes full-on rock goddess. Casey was obviously ready to fight for her spot if need be.
Colin Jamieson takes the stage next. He did NOT make it into America’s Top 16. He’s singing for the wildcard.
Colin Jamieson – Waves by Dean Lewis – He’s still breathy and gaspy on the soft notes. Parts of the song are solid. Vocal lessons would help, because his stage presence is good and he’s likable. Lionel likes that he ignores everything everybody has said about him. “Believe in yourself,” he says. Katy agrees. Are they talking about Internet comments? Katie thinks he’s grown “before our very eyes.” No, he wasn’t good last night. That’s why he’s singing for his life tonight. Paula enjoys watching him. “You put so much passion into your performances…you made me smile tonight,” she says.
Ryan says the vote is tight. Between some contestants, it’s only a 900 vote difference.
Deshawn Goncalves is next. WOW. He made it into America’s Top 10!
Deshawn Goncalves – Higher Ground by Stevie Wonder – I mean. It feels like Deshawn has been operating under the radar. But he keeps on advancing. He’s a talented singer. It’s not a bad thing that he’s in the Top 10. I keep underestimating him. I should probably stop that. Ha. Paula is up on her feet dancing. Deshawn chose the song for the challenge, and because he wanted to tackle an upbeat song.
Cassandra Coleman is on the stage. After the nationwide vote, she’s made it into the Top 10
Cassandra Coleman – Light On by Maggie Rogers – She can relax. Good thing, because she’s hitting a bunch of wonky, pitchy notes. Not one of her best performances, to say the least. Glad she’s not singing for the wildcard tonight.
Caleb Kennedy is next. He’s hatless! Caleb is IN THE TOP 10.
Caleb Kennedy – Remember the original he sang for his audition? He told the judges that he didn’t finish it. Now he’s finished it and singing it as his victory song. Are the contestants having trouble hearing themselves? Caleb is pitchy too. Other than that, it’s a decent song. After Idol, he needs to head straight to Nashville to do some writing. Lionel says the artist is coming out of him. Paula calls Caleb “extremely talented.”
American Idol airs LIVE COAST TO COAST NEXT SUNDAY. That means real time voting for everyone. Yee Haw. It’s so much fun. HEY RANDY JACKSON IS ON THE FACETIME! AMERICAN IDOL REUNION. Kick Lionel off next week, and bring Randy back for a week.
Madison Watkins DID NOT make the Top 10. Oooh. She’s wearing an updo.
Madison Watkins – Hotline Bling by Drake – This rendition is a little Las Vegasy, but what a set of pipes this singer has. Also, her confidence is undeniable. She’s good. Depending on who else is out, she could slide through as a Wildcard. Lionel says “You put it out on the floor tonight.” He warns her that the competition is “extremely steep.” Katy says this entire season she’s brought the light. “You’re good karma is going to pay off eventually.” Lionel and Katy both gave what sounded like goodbye and good luck remarks. Madison, ever the optimist says, “My mama says it ain’t over until it’s over…”
Ava August is next. And she’s in the Top 10!
Ava August – Love of My Life by Queen – I’m not loving this song choice. And I’m not sure why? I like the song, I like Ava. Maybe it’s the arrangement, or some of the vocal choices she’s making. But I’m glad she’s in. Lionel says, “You are singing like an absolute pro…there is no critique here.” Katy calls her “world class.” It’s like “you went to Julliard.” “You leave me speechless,” says Paula. “You blow me away.” Weird! Ava’s letter carrier is in the audience. He remembers her singing while on his route!
Luke Bryan is texting into the show from home. Only, it’s the producer’s phone, and it’s locked. She has to intervene before Ryan can read what Luke has to say. There is swearing involved. But mostly, Luke is full of praise for the singers.
Beane is next. I HOPE HE MAKES IT. Oh no. He has to sing for his life right now.
Beane – Grow as We Go by Ben Platt – The judges might actually save Beane. But we’ll see. It’s a good song pick for him, although it’s the kind of choice that invites “theatricality” criticism. In any case, Beane brings musicality and variety to the show. The phrasing here is beautiful. Lionel feels that he’s grown into his artistry. “You gave us a stellar performance…you just relaxed into your talent.” Katy claims to be a card carrying “beanie baby.” She compliments his control. Paula is a fan too. She calls him special and unique. “You shine like a bright light.”
Chayce Beckham – The nation has spoken…Chayce is in the Top 10.
Chayce Beckham – What Brings Life Also Kills – Some of the contestants are bringing brand new performances. Others, like Chayce, are recycling previous tunes. It doesn’t matter, because this is a victory song. But special kudos to the singers rehearsing new stuff. Luke texted “Dang, I’m still not that cool.”
Next Sunday, the Top 12 becomes nine on a coast to coast episode. Then on Monday, a bunch of singers from Season 18 return to vie for one spot. Hoo boy.
Alyssa Wray is next. Oh. Alyssa is in the Top 10! I’m a little bit surprised. Her performance last night was probably her worst of the season. She looked VERY surprised
Alyssa Wray – The Greatest Love by Whitney Houston – This song choice is sooooo old fashioned. I hope her remaining performances are more contemporary. So pageanty. Jennifer Hudson DM’d her. She advised Alyssa to “make them wait for it.” Paula says she looks like a “seasoned pro,” adding “I think she had some defining moments.” She cautions all contestants to pick the right songs.
Alana Sophia – After the nationwide vote, Alana needs to sing for her life. I’m a little surprised.
Alanis Sophia – Heart Attack by Demi Lovato – I think overall, her performances have been better than Alyssa’s Hm. I don’t know if the judges will save her or not. They might. She sounds a little pitchy on the high notes tonight. Lionel compliments her for keeping it together under the circumstance. Lionel said that during her performance, she was thinking about it at points. Katy tells her to take rejection and let it build and burn. “You are going to hustle your way, you certainly are.” Paula compliments her fire and tenacity.
Willie Spence is up. And of course he’s in the Top 10
Willie Spence – Diamonds by Rihanna – This is the song that went viral after he sang it in his choir room a few years ago. It was also his audition song. There’s not much to say about the smooth and soulful Willie. His performances are consistently solid. Katy says, “You came in as the diamond in the rough, now you are brilliant.”
Grace Kinstler takes the stage and America voted her into the Top 10
Grace Kinstler – Dangerous Woman by Ariana Grande – Knowing she’s advanced to the Top 12 seems to have relaxed Grace. She’s back to being feisty tonight. Last night, before she heard the results, she seemed nervous and spooked. Lionel calls her attitude on stage “amazing.”
Hunter and Graham are left. Hunter is called to the stage. He’s ashook, because he considers Graham one of his best friends on the show. And of course, Hunter has advanced, Graham has not.
Hunter Metts – I Can’t Make You Love Me by Bonnie Raitt – OH GOOD SONG. These songs that tap into Hunter’s vulnerability are the best for him. His vocal is never perfect. He’s got some weird breathing things going on here and there. But he always makes me feel something when he sings. Paula calls his vocal distinct and present. “I just want to ask all of you…what did your mother breastfeed you.” OH PAULER NEVER CHANGE.
Graham DeFranco – Cover Me Up by Jason Isbell – Graham is a decent enough singer. I just…he’s missing something. I’m not surprised he missed the Top 10. The judges are standing for him. Lionel says he’s “punching his way into the future.” And that it’s all about what he does next. “Take this shot and learn as fast as possible.” Katy thinks he probably got really close. “You are a pilot, but I think you’ve finally taken flight yourself.” Paula calls his voice “comforting.” She compares it to dripping butter.
RESULTS. The judges NAME the TWO wildcards. DIM THE LIGHTS AND HERE WE GO. Lionel announces that Madison Watkins will continue on the show. Katy announces that it was unanimous, and like Lionel mentioned, the decisions were based on TONIGHT’S PERFORMANCES ALONE. Hm. But maybe so, because Beane is the other Wildcard! And I would say, of the five singers competing for the Wildcard, Beane and Madison gave the best performances. I might have swapped in Alanis for Madison. Let’s put it this way–I wouldn’t have been mad if Alanis made it through. But I ain’t mad about Madison, either.
American Idol 2021 Top 12
Madison Watkins – WILDCARD
Beane – WILDCARD