American Idol 2021: Willie Spence Wows with The Prayer with Idol Alum Katharine McPhee
In his solo for Sunday night’s American Idol Top 24 Solos and All Star Duets episode, big-voiced Willie Spence sang Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings.” There was an overarching theme of me liking the duets better than the solos tonight and that was true here. It wasn’t even necessarily that the duet partners made the contestants shine more. I think it was due to some poor song choices in the solos and the solos being a bit shorter and thus, less impactful. Songs like these can come off as a bit cheesy. Willie did a solid job maneuvering it and hit every note spot on. His last few runs were gorgeous. It just was not a big moment like Season 11 Skylar Laine’s version. It did not have the emotional impact that her version did. I hope as the season goes on, Willie becomes more than just a great vocalist. I want feeling and passion from him because he is such a great singer. I also want to see him let loose and show his vulnerable side.
Moving onto the duet, Willie sang with Season 5 runner-up Katharine McPhee. Katherine notes Willie’s ability to tell a story in their duet package. She dedicates the song to her late father. That, after Willie shares that he wants to dedicate the performance to his recently deceased granddad. Willie’s grandfather, who recently passed away from COVID-19, was the singer’s hero. They really connect on “The Prayer” by Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion. From the moment Kat opened her mouth, I knew this would be a special moment. Willie put more passion than I typically have heard from him. He kept up with Katharine vocally and the harmonies were gorgeous. You could tell she was the pro with her crystal-clear vocals, but he still did an incredible job. “The Prayer” has been done so much that I kind of wish they did a different song, but at least they turned in a very good version.
I am sure Willie will be soaring through to the top 16 and much further. I wonder if the longer season will make consistent and powerhouse vocalists like Willie feel like the same-old, and Idol will return to opting for more singer-songwriter vocalists. Or will Willie go deep in the competition? It is tough to gauge what will happen since last season was so weird after the COVID pandemic hit. Willie does seem to be very popular, so I’m sure he will at least be top 10.