American Idol 2023 Recap: Top 26 Perform in Hawaii Part 1

Lionel Richie, Allen Stone, Katy Perry Luke Bryan, American Idol 2023

American Idol 2023 Recap Top 26 Perform in Hawaii for Your Votes (Part 1)

American Idol 2023 Recap Top 26 Perform at Disney Aulani Resort in Hawaii for YOUR Votes – Season 21 Top 26 perform in front of judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan along with host Ryan Seacrest as they kick off the round at the Disney Aulani Resort in Hawaii.

On night one, thirteen contestants will be mentored by singer-songwriter Allen Stone. Public voting kicks off as fans can choose who they want and will determine the Top 20 unveiled on next Sunday’s Top 20 episode.

Vote at, via the American Idol app or SMS Text.

How to Vote on American Idol 2023: Everything You Need to Know

American Idol 2023: Full Season 21 Schedule
American Idol 2023 Spoilers: Top 26 Celebrity Mentors, Song Picks
American Idol 2023: Top 26 Contestant Photo Gallery Night 1 and 2

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Allen Stone meets the group. Don’t be afraid to ask questions he says, referring to himself as “Uncle Al.” The contestants have brought family members with them to the resort. Iam is from the state and basically holds a family reunion.

The show opens with a silly bit involving Ryan Seacrest playing with dolls.

Elise Kristine – Holding Out for a Hero by Bonnie Tyler

Uncle Al gives her tips on how to have fun, but also move during the song. “I’m hoping she can ground herself in the joy of performance,” he says. “Uncle Al” is in the audience rocking out. This isn’t a great song choice for her. She was pretty spectacular in earlier rounds. But this choice is karaoke. Although, she does show off her incredible range, whistle notes and all. She can SANG, this girl.

“That’s the way to start the show,” says Lionel. “You killed it.” Katy calls her fearless, “You’ve got fangs.” Luke thought she looked comfortable, saying, “Good job.”

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Oliver Steele – Better Together by Jack Johnson

Oliver comes in to Allen’s space singing”Unaware.” The two sing a bit of it together. Oliver is a stan! On stage, the singer approaches the mic playing the intro on his guitar. This is a great song choice for him! His tone is so pure, easy and effortless. It’s like the song is his. No worries about making the Top 20 for this guy, even though he’s playing in the death spot. “Way to know your audience,” says Katy. “way to pick a cool song.” Luke adds, “You were your own artist, letting the band follow with you.” Lionel says Oliver showed his “vocal identity.”

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Matt Wilson – Speechless by Dan + Shay

“Speechless” reminds him of his wedding day. “The best day of my life.” He brings his wife into his mentor session with Allen. “I had hardly any notes for Matt,” Allen says. The song is set up as an ode to his wife, who is sitting enraptured in the audience. At one point, he approaches and sings to her directly. The scenario alone should garner some votes. Regardless, Matt’s tone and phrasing are so smooth and pretty. He’s easy to listen to. “You got this whole look thing going on,” Luke said mentioning that Matt is one of his favorites. Lionel calls his voice “silky” and mentions that he can hold a crowd. Katy thinks he’s gained a ton of confidence since his audition. “So gorgeous,” she says.

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Kaeyra – Don’t Let Go (Love) by En Vogue

Allen is very excited about Kaeyra’s song choice. “It’s one of my favorites,” adding, “That’s gonna slap.” He suggests she come off her mic stand at one point. This singer has so many sides to her musical personality, at some point, the judges will be trying to pin her down. So far she has performed piano ballads and rock songs. Now she’s slaying with an R&B number, grabbing the mic and working the stage. She can sing anything, it seems! She’s a vocal powerhouse and a fierce performer. “I love your voice,” says Lionel, “You owned that song.” The song choice and delivery gave Katy “frozen stank face.” She calls Kaeyra a “star” and begs America to vote. Luke also thinks she’s a star, and that America will get it right.

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PJAE – Golden by Jill Scott

PJAE chose a song that means a lot to him. Allen suggests that he sing an ad lib as an introduction before the first verse. “You’re an unbelievable singer,” Allen says. PJAE is working the stage impressively as he connects with the audience. His ad libs are always pretty great. He changes up the tempo at the end. For the first time,. he seems like a real entertainer rather than merely a big voice. Katy wanted a few more runs, but she still enjoyed it. Luke loved the transition at the end. “Great performance, great job.” Lionel says, “That was some pro movement you did there. America, you gotta vote.”

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Mentor Allen Stone sings Bob Marley’s “Is This Love”

Mentor performance break! Allen shows the crowd why he’s a worthy mentor. The singer-songwriter is an amazing R&B song stylist. Last year at this time, Allen was a contestant himself, representing his home state of Washington on NBC’s American Song Contest. The more you know! Allen’s latest single is “Magic.” He’ll be touring with Chris Stapleton this summer.

Zachariah Smith – Lucille by Little Richard

His Memaw’s name is Lucille, hence the song choice. “I want to pay back the love she’s given my all her life.” They get her on the phone. At some point, Zach risks coming off as a gimmick with his song choices and stage antics. But this performance is the best he’s ever been. Maybe performing on a big outdoor stage works in his favor. He’s not sacrificing his voice to his personality. I thought he might bite it this week, but I’m not so sure now. “You’re crazy,” says Luke. “I can’t take my eyes off you.” Lionel calls it “SHOW BUSINESS.” Katy calls him “crazy…talented.” Katy reminds folks he used to flip burgers in Mississippi.

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Mariah Faith – You Should Probably Leave by Chris Stapleton

Allen shares how to draw in the audience in the first verse. ‘She has a swag that is truly special,” he says. Mariah’s’ got strong Bonnie Raitt vibes. Her sound and style is a throwback, but without being old fashioned. The Chris Stapleton song choice is a good one for her bluesy, brassy, raspy vocals. Lionel calls her rasp the signature to her success story. “Use it wisely.” Katy says, “You’ve got that true grit. She wants even more milking of that tone.” Luke likes the combination of country and blues.

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Emma Bussee – Lay Me Down by Sam Smith

“Less is more,” Allen says about how to approach “Lay Me Down.” She sang the song for the first time at 16. She wants to bring it back as a “personal growth thing.” She’s been to Aulani with her family. Emma has emerged as a real surprise. The judges dogged her for being too “Broadway” initially. But she brings her massive vocal chops to pop songs, beautifully. Her phrasing is especially impressive. Katy says, “You sing all those hidden colors…the notes we don’t know exit…you are a pro.” Luke says, “You have the ability to bring the song through you.” He thinks the Broadway criticism is no longer valid. Lionel is also impressed with Emma’s phrasing. “You’re very special, enjoy this ride.”

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Warren Peay – Set Fire to the Rain by Adele

Warren wants America to see he’s not afraid to step out of his box. Allen suggests that he chuck the hat halfway through the song, but in a way that seems authentic. They practice it A LOT. He sings a southern rock version of this Adele pop classic. Interesting choice. He takes off the hat and holds it. He doesn’t want to throw it. Heh. The potential throw was distracting him. Better that he put it back on. The last half of the song was better than the first. Ryan brings out a crappy hat for Warren to finally toss. Luke liked the unique song choice, “Do things that people aren’t expecting.” Lionel says, “Give us even more with that switch-up.” Katy appreciated his “making his own” moment. There’s a photo of his girlfriend in his “good luck charm” hat. He couldn’t bear to throw it, he explains. He probably should have shared those concerns with Allen up front.

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Nailyah Serenity – Lovin You by Minnie Riperton

Nailyah wants to honor Minnie Riperton, who put whistle tones on the map. She demonstrates the tone for an amazed Allen. He suggests that exercise before her performance will help her nail the high notes. This song is rarely covered on singing shows for obvious reasons! She changes up the melody on the verse. Does she hit the notes? YES. She really changes up the timing and phrasing on the chorus. So jazzy. She’s an extremely talented singer, and at this point, under the radar. She goes higher than Minnie did on the last note! Lionel knew Minnie and can’t believe that she took the song to the next level. He calls her vocals “Martian like.” Katy calls her voice “Olympic” and “effortless.” She adds, “You are extra-terrestrial.” Luke says, “You have stardust all over you.”

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Haven Madison – The Middle by Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey

She considered singing “Traitor” by Olivia Rodrigo. But “The Middle” is a side she hasn’t showcased. Allen leans toward “The Middle.” Haven goes for the risk. She’s having a few pitch and breathing issues. But she’s illustrating her ability to go uptempo and entertain a crowd. Not her best performance, but it’s a solid effort and does show a different side of her talent. Haven is only 16. Katy thinks she has an “incredible youthful vibe.” But she wants more control. Luke was waiting for her to be even freer on stage. He thought she should have turned the performance into a “teen fest.” Still, “good job.” Lionel also wanted more from her onstage.

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Lucy Love – What’s Love Got to Do with It by Tina Turner

“I’m rooting for Lucy,” declares Allen who has kids about the same age as hers. He calls her talent and voice “powerful.” He doesn’t really have notes for her. Her approach to covers is always unique. She changes up the melody on the verse, but keeps it simple on the chorus. She works the audience like a church girl. She loses control. She could rein in the pitchy stuff. But her ability to put it all out on the stage is infectious. Luke says, “Nobody wants it more than you. You go wild, girl.” Katy says, “You have such an incredible approach. It’s your own stank.” Lionel calls Tina Termer a “good friend.” He says, “Enjoy the stage, that’s where you belong.”

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William Guy Tongi – Don’t Let Go by SpawnBreezie

Iam’s family is originally from Hawaii but moved to Washington when the islands became too expensive. Allen calls his voice “uncomparable.” He dreamed about performing some day at Aulani. Iam takes the stage and doesn’t even seem to be trying, but still manages to be a compelling performer. His performance is easy, breezy and a perfect end to American Idol’s “concert on the beach” night one. Lionel thinks he had a “spiritual experience.” He calls Iam a “hometown hero.” He says, “You are our first contestant from Hawaii to make it to this point.” Katy compares his voice to butter. Luke felt “so much love” from the hometown crowd. Luke believes all of Iam’s dreams can come true.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Iam is the first Hawaiian native to make the semi-finals in the ABC era. But for season 3 in 2004, Idol auditioned contestants IN Hawaii. A couple of Hawaiian natives went far: Jasmine Trias finished in 3rd place, while Camile Velasco finished 9th. There were a few more Hawaiians that made it as far as the Top 36 that season.

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About mj santilli 34829 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!