American Idol 2023: Nailyah’s Whistle Tones Dazzle in Hawaii


Nailyah Serenity is “Lovin’” Hawaii with All The Bells and Whistles 

The American Idol Top 26 round began on Sunday with 13 singers taking the stage for America’s vote at the Disney Aulani resort in Hawaii. (Read our Recap)

One of those singers, Charlotte native and astrologist Nailyah Serenity performed the risky “Lovin’ You” by Minnie Riperton. In rehearsal with the night’s mentor, Allen Stone, Nailyah said that she chose the classic song to honor Riperton, who put whistle tones on the map. After the singer demonstrated her ability, Allen was mesmerized saying, “she goes higher than Minnie in the original tune which is insane.” Allen advises her to get a run or jog in, and make sure that she is able to hit the note under pressure.

Nailyah’s old-fashioned stylings and incredible vocals harken back to old-school American Idol contestants from the early seasons. Her vocals have been living under the radar mainly due to her lack of screen time, but she showed up in Hawaii with a very impressive performance.

Spectacular belts and more whistle tones

Because of the difficult whistle notes, this song is rarely covered on these shows, but Nailyah tackled it in an effortless manner. Nailyah starts off in a jazzy, easy breezy way, before hitting the impressive whistle note. The performance evolves into a more uptempo arrangement midway which I didn’t really understand. Nevertheless, it ended with some spectacular belts and more whistle tones that went even higher than the previous ones. Wow is all I can say. This was a very technically sound performance and one of the best of the entire night.

All three judges gave her a standing ovation. Lionel Richie exclaimed, “what was that!” saying that he knew Minnie when it came out. He noted that Nailyah took the song to the “next-level” and called her voice “martian-like.” Katy Perry asked, “Does that note exist on a piano?” and then called her vocals “Olympic.” Luke Bryan said, “I think everyone will be listening to the ocean tonight because you knocked out all of the windows.” Host Ryan Seacrest asked if those notes are “second-nature,” and Nailyah explained that her mom noticed it while Nailyah sang as she cleaned out the litter box.

Hopefully even with limited screen-time this mouth-dropping vocal is enough to move Nailyah to the top 20. Other than Nailyah, I really enjoyed Kaeyra’s soulful En Vogue cover. Emma Busse continued to showcase her phrasing on a ballad. And Iam Tongi ended the show doing what he does best with an island flair, which is sing in a simple and compelling manner.

About Blake Busch 272 Articles
I am a graduate of Drake University with a BSBA in marketing and minor in data analytics. My favorite shows to follow are American Idol and The Voice. I also love crime thrillers, Top Chef, and Masterchef. My hobbies include cooking, baking, playing basketball, and watching sports.