The first half of the top 24 performed last week on ABC’s American Idol, and after their solo and celebrity duet performances, judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan cut five artists before they could get a chance to sing for America’s vote. This week, the second half of the top 24 is going through the same process, starting with Sunday night’s solo performances. Mentor Bobby Bones was also back to give performers advice.
First up was early front-runner Amelia Hammer Harris, who chose to sing “Believer” by Imagine Dragons. She showcased the star quality that the judges have been talking about all season, and while it wasn’t the most exciting song choice, she sang it well and entertained. Richie praised her confidence, and Perry said she hopes to see more shades of her moving forward.
Garrett Jacobs followed with “Treat You Better” by Shawn Mendes, and Bones tries to work with him on his dance moves — or lack thereof. While he was charming in his performance, he had some pitch problems, and his falsetto wasn’t as strong as some of the other singers in the competition. Bryan called him a heartthrob, but that might be all he has going for him at this point.
Singing Melanie’s 1971 hit “Brand New Key,” Maddie Poppe gave a fun and original performance, showcasing her personal artistry with a somewhat risky song choice. Perry described her as infectious.
Ada Vox was up next, singing “Feeling Good.” It was a spot-on song choice, and Vox’s vocals were pitch perfect. She brought a sensual jazz vibe to her performance, and even though she expressed concerns early on about seeming too gimmicky, that hasn’t been the case at all. Vox has one of the best voices of the competition, full stop. On Sunday, she sang a lot of big runs without doing too much, which is a tough balance to strike with this song choice. “You’re here to win,” Perry said.
Country singer Caleb Lee Hutchinson cited former Idol winner Scotty McCreery as an inspiration. He sang “Die a Happy Man” by Thomas Rhett and proved himself as a solid, straightforward country singer with his lilting vocals and storytelling abilities. But resident country expert Bryan wasn’t too impressed, calling attention so some pitch issues.
Rocker Effie Passero leaned into her wheelhouse by singing “Barracuda” by Heart. She did the song justice, showing off incredible power and range. It was an impressive vocal performance, but the judges pushed her to be more confident and commanding moving forward.
Alyssa Raghu, one of the younger singers in the competition, sang “Stay” by Rihanna, and she didn’t quite play with it enough to make it her own, but she still delivered a very strong vocal. The performance even made Bryan more of a fan of hers than he previously had been.
Marcio Donaldson next delivered an emotional ballad, singing “Inseparable” by Natalie Cole. It was an understated and gorgeous performance that allowed him to really just sell how impressive his voice is. “Believe in yourself, and take on the posture of your power,” Perry said. “You’ve got it, and you can make this thing happen.”
Mara Justine ambitiously chose to sing “Run to You” by Whitney Houston. She deliver an emotional, raw performance that tapped into a different side of her voice. “You have shown us this edgy, rambunctious rocker side, and then you just delivered that,” Bryan said, blown away by her versatility. “This sounds so good on you,” Perry added, also saying that she could sing addresses in the phone book and she would listen to it.
Jurnee was up next, singing “Flashlight” by Jessie J. With Bones, she talked about how she has always felt like a weirdo and addressed the difficulties of coming out as a lesbian in high school. It wasn’t a particularly exciting song choice, but Jurnee’s runs stood out and helped elevate the song. “You can sing circles over everyone, and I think that she knows it,” Perry said, praising her confidence.
With her performance of “All I Ask” by Adele, 17-year-old singer Shannon O’Hara solidified herself as a very polished vocalist. Despite her young age, she brought experience and confidence to her performance. Still, in order to stand out, she’ll have to play with the melody more if she does move forward. The judges were satisfied, but it wasn’t the most memorable performance of the evening.
Ron Bultongez closed out the evening with his performance of Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own.” He gave an entertaining but emotional performance, and he made this song his own with his arrangement. Richie praised his perseverance in this competition, but Perry said she could sense his nerves.
On Monday night, these contestants will sing again, dueting with celebrity singers. Then the judges will cut five more, and the remaining contestants will sing for America’s vote next week. What did you think of Sunday night’s performances?