The American Idol Top 21 will become a Top 11 on tonight’s episode. It’s the first LIVE COAST-TO-COAST broadcast of the season. That means the show will air simultaneously across ET/CT/MT/CT time zones. VOTING begins at 8 pm ET and ends after the last comercial break. At the end of the show, host Ryan Seacrest will announce the Top 11 moving on to Monday’s show.
The Top 14 will be mentored for American Idol season 16 country star Gabby Barrett. After, the singers will perform in front of judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan for your vote
Go to ABC.com or the American Idol app to vote. Fans can also text their votes. Voting rules and text numbers at the link below:
Tonight’s theme is “Breakout Hits” whatever that means! Anything a contestant wants it to mean
Just the Way You Are by Bruno Mars – Jay is dedicating the song to his mom. Gabby advises him to be careful on the high notes. She suggests a different approach. That’s good advice. He needs to work on his enunciation, as well as his pitch. Jay is still just…ok for me. He sings with a fast vibrato that’s off putting. However, he performs at the mic without dancing. It greatly improves his vocal.
Lionel calls it “amazing.” He loves the jacket. “You are showing up on the stage singing songs you should sing.” The judges will bend over backwards supporting their Platinum Ticket winner. Katy liked that he took Gabby’s advice and that he “landed in a cool spot.” Luke agrees with Lionel, that it’s important he let America know who he is.
Baby Girl by Sugarland – Hunter will dedicate the song to her parents. “You sound great,” says Gabby. Oh look it’s Gabby’s dad! I WILL NOT THINK BAD THOUGHTS. Hunter isn’t a favorite around these parts, but her sound is commercial and radio ready. Her tone cuts through. She’s also a judges favorite which can put off some fans. Having said that, I think she’s had better performances. She’s not nailing the high notes this time. But she is nailing the emotions, with her parents on stage.
Katy says straight up that she wants Hunter to win. “You have a heart of gold,” she says. “I’d be so happy if you won this competition.” Hoo boy. Way to create even more fan backlash. Luke calls it her “best moment.” Hm. Emotionally she was 100 percent connected. But vocally, she has performed better. “You look like money….an old pro,” says Lionel.
Take me to Church by Hozier – Gabby forces him to pay attention to the lyric and focus on the melody. In other words, don’t get distracted by vocal tricks. He’s taking Gabby’s advice. He’s delivering a very gospel-y take on the song, without overdoing it. He saves the big tricks for the last chorus. Also, it’s worth noting he was on stage without his glasses, and needed to be helped off the stage. The bright lights were obviously bothering him (You’re cool with glasses Christian, no need to suffer!)
Luke calls his voice solid. He basically tells him to ignore advice he doesn’t like, though. “You were on fire,” says Lionel. He agreed with Gabby’s advice, and felt Christian followed it. Katy agrees with Lionel. “I think you pick really cool songs,” she says.
She’s Got it All by Kenny Chesney – Dan is nervous in front of Gabby. She’s worried he’ll take those nerves to the stage and suggests that he find a way to connect to the audience with shout outs. Dan has a decent tone. That’s his best vocal trait. But overall, he’s a boring and inexperienced performer. He needs to loosen up on stage. He does take the “c’mon y’all” suggestion Gabby gave him, but it was the only time he came alive during the performance.
“You actually walked out on stage and owned the song,” Lionel says. OK then. Lionel thinks he’s sounding like a star. Katy liked the song choice. She thinks he needs to strike a line of fun and keeping it pro. “There are a couple notes that could have been more.” To say the least. Luke also liked the song choice. He noticed that Dan looked “freaked out” at the beginning. But even as he tries to loosen up, he needs to pay attention to vocals.
Happy Together by the Turtles – She’s trying to decide between “Mad World” and “Happy Together.” She sings both songs for Gabby, who prefered “Happy Together.” I agree. “Mad World” has been covered to much. Leah wisely takes Gabby’s advice. This is a great little 60s gem. The song allows her to show off her range and inventive phrasing. The kiddos might not know the song, though.
“The show has finally started,” Katy gushes. She compares Leah to St. Vincent, saying she’s joined the “cool club.” Luke loves watching her grow. He calls it emotional and inspiring. “What a masterful moment from top to bottom.” Luke is crying! What? Lionel says she took a Turtle song and turned it into her song.
Let it Go by James Bey – He picked the song as a goodbye to his old self. Gabby encourages him to make the song his own with unique inflections. There is something about Fritz that’s very appealing. He’s so earnest and guilless when he sings. And he’s always an open book that he couldn’t shut if he tried. The last chorus is phrased really beautifully. Nice work.
Luke calls Fritz an artist. “You held the room….like I was at your show.” Lionel says the quiet moments pull the audience in. “Wonderful.” Katy is so proud of how far he’s come. She urges fans to vote. WE MUST PROTEC Katy basically says. “Heartthrob Hager,” says a sign.
Whataya Want From Me by Adam Lambert – Gabby calls the song choice “risky” yet “cool.” She wants to make sure his LOUD notes make sense. She suggests he change the ending. “I hope Adam sees it,” he says. He’s not playing an instrument this week. He’s putting his own spin on the song, while working the stage. This could have been a disaster, he did forget some lyrics, but he made the song his own.
Lionel compliments his “acting” and stage presence. He’s working the camera. Katy compliments Tristen for pulling out a “new card.” Luke says, “You came to play.” OH HI ADAM. “I want you to break a leak, sing from the heart, and know you are a star,” says the American Idol alum in a pre-recorded video. AWE TRISTEN STARTS CRYING.
I Believe by Fantasia – Hm….this song choice. Only Fantasia can pull this drek off. Gabby thinks she looks uncomfortable. She gives Lady K performance pointers. Fantasia’s version is good because she gets downright UGLY when she sings it. Lady K is delivering a nice, soulful pageant version of the song. It’s not bad, but not remarkable either. Ludy K’s pocket is soulful sultry covers that allow her to stretch her bluesy phrasing.
Katy calls her “elegance personified…the glow up is real.” Luke loves watching her blossom. “Your choices are so great when you sing.” Lionel calls it her best performance.
Casey Bishop is in the audience Promoting her new single “Bad Dream”!
Ocean Eyes by Billie Eilish – Gabby loves the song choice. She gives the singer tips on how to phrase and use her falsetto. She’s accompanying herself on piano. It’s a pretty performance, until she gets up from the piano with her mic and really delivers some passion. She could have stayed at the piano, but that would have been boring. The arrangement served her well.
“That is why we saved you,” says Luke. He compliments her falsetto and choice to get up from the piano. “You sucked us right in…wonderful performance,” says Lionel. “I think you are incredibly talented,” Katy says. Allegra went barefoot. And so is Ryan! Heh.
Sign of the Times by Harry Styles – She’s a massive Harry fan. She’s starting from the chorus, because she wants it to open big. Gabby approves, and encourages her positive body language. Wow. She starts on the lowest of low notes. She can pull it off, though. In the 60’s she’d be an Andy Warhol chanteuse, singing with The Velvet Underground. But her weirdness may be too much for American Idol. She brings it home at the end with impressive high notes. She’s amazing.
“There’s no maybe about Ava,” says Lionel. So clever /not. He criticizes the front half of the song, “You were thinking to much.” Katy agrees with Lionel, but says her friends are fans. Luke also liked the back half of the performance better. Eh. The beginning lent mysteria before the performance opened up.
Hurricane by Luke Combs – Gabby notes some “tight” body language. She offers, “Keep your eyes open, move around the stage.” His rendition actually sounds like a country song rather than an R&B version of a country song. The band is outplaying him somewhat. But he seems to be zeroing in on how to be a country artist. He had to be saved last week. Is he saving himself?
“You made that stage yours….you were sangin,” says Katy. Luke calls him a “fighter.” He says, “Way to show up.” Lionel says, “That is the way you are supposed to be…you’re storytelling.”
Driver’s License by Olivia Rodrigo — Gabby helps Emyrson with her “overthinking.” She says “breathing will help you relax.” She’s confident that the singer will loosen up. Emyrson has a unique sound. She’d be unmistakable on the radio. This time, she’s having a few pitch problems, but her phrasing is lovely.
Luke calls it a “great song choice” and “timeless and classic.” Lionel thinks she has an “old settled cry” in her voice. Katy thinks that cry is her “special sauce.” It holds the room, she says.
Stand by Me by Ben E. King – Gabby and Noah bond over being parents of young children. He picks “Nobody to Blame” by Chris Stapleton. Gaby thinks he’s not connecting and suggests that he change his song. It’s presented as all very last minute. He picks the crowd pleasing “Stand by Me.” SMART SONG CHOICE. It’s the kind of song pick that wins over fans.
Lionel thinks Gabby gave him a gift suggesting a new song. “Pick songs that you feel,” he says. Katy thinks he’s staying true to himself, even when he flips songs. Her Kentucky raised housekeeper is voting for him. “Your voice is just so real,” says Luke. He thinks it’s simple, “Just get up sing the way you sing.”
Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen – Her nonna loves the song. It helped her get through chemotherapy. Gabby gave her tips on how to build the performance. Nicolina’s nonna is in the audience. She’s already crying. The chyron is crediting the song to Jeff Buckley. My favorite covers of this song are more tender than big voiced. But she wisely ends the performance on a quiet note.
Katy says it was like watching an angel sing, “What a tribute.” She also makes sure to namecheck Leonard Cohen! Luke admires Nicolina’s vocal control. “It’s a God given talent. Lionel calls her natural gift “pure” and beyond her years.
In no particular order: Leah, HunterGirl, Jay, Fritz, Nicolina, Noah, Christian, Lady K, Emyrson, Mike, and Tristen are in the Top 11. Dan, Allegra and Ava are leaving the show.
I did not expect Dan Marshall to go this soon! The judges remarks weren’t that confidence inspiring. Even though Dan mostly looks scared to death when he’s singing, I figured the country crowd would save him.
Ava Maybe and Allegra Miles departures weren’t surprising. Ava is like a greek olive. She’s bold, but not for everybody. Allegra and Emyrson are in the same musical lane and Emyrson surpassed her. However, Allegra did what she could to keep in the game. It just was not enough. Allegra proved to be a talented songwriter. I wanted to hear more.
Gabby Barrett proved to be a very adept mentor. She gave good vocal and stage presence tips. She didn’t pull any punches either. Great job.