6:32pm PT by Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya
'American Idol': Sing-Off Shakes Up Showcase Week
With Hollywood Week over, the remaining 48 American Idol contestants take their talents to the House Of Blues in Los Angeles, where they have one last shot to sing for the judges before the top 24 compete in the live shows. In Showcase Week, the Idol hopefuls perform in front of a live audience, along with judges Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr., and Keith Urban. After everyone sings, they then have to take a literal long walk down a dramatically lit pathway, where the judges await with their fate. The chaos of Hollywood Week may be gone, but Showcase Week presents its own set of challenges, as the contestants finally have to not only hit the right notes but also give an entertaining performance in front of a real audience.
Michael Simeon takes the stage first with "Classic" by MKTO. He takes a risk by rapping in the middle of the performance, and although it comes off as awkward and disconnected from his sound, the judges admire his versatility and let him through to the top 24.
He's joined by Loren Lott, who doesn't get a standing ovation from Lopez like she did back in Hollywood Week. In fact, Connick notes that her performance of "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion wasn't one of her stronger showings, but it's enough to carry her through. Adam Ezegelian also advances, along with Lovey James, who really works the crowd with her rendition of "Wings" by Little Mix. Little Daniel Seavey, who really does seem to be playing up his cuteness (smart move!) also advances with former Idol judge Paula Abdul's "Straight Up." Rayvon Owen, Shannon Berthiaume and Jax Cole are also in the top 24.
Cody Fry seems already resigned to his fate as he makes his way down the walkway, lacking confidence in his performance of Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" the previous night. He's right to have his doubts, as the judges inform him he won't be returning for the top 24. Reno Anoa'i, Zack Kaltenbach, Hannah Mrozak, and J. None — and his trusty teddy bear, Mr. Crispy — also head home.
The best performance of the night undeniably comes from Adanna Duru. Lopez's face throughout says it all. Duru's performance of "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" by James Brown is sexy and confident, earning a coveted standing ovation from Lopez and a spot in the top 24. Clark Beckham also brings Lopez and Urban to their feet. Connick, of course, remains seated, and in Beckham's feedback segment, he explains that he has a higher standard than his fellow judges when it comes to people sitting at a piano while performing because that's what he does for a living. It's interesting to hear that insight, and in fact, Showcase Week allows us to hear more of the judges' justifications behind their decisions than Hollywood Week allowed for. Despite Connick's hesitations, Beckham advances.
Some slightly unexpected drama arises when the judges start to doubt their decision to eliminate Maddie Walker, who has coasted through the competition relatively unnoticed for the past few weeks. The judges clearly see something in her though, because after initially telling her she didn't make the cut, they call her back into the room for an unplanned sing-off against Rachael Hallack, who they're also on the fence about. Without any accompaniment or time to rehearse, the girls go toe-to-toe in a brutal sing-off. Hallack sings "Son Of A Preacher Man," while Walker sings "Red High Heels" by former Idol contestant Kellie Pickler. Neither contestant really seems to add much to the slate of singers already through to the top 24, but the judges pick Walker by the smallest margin. Maybe she'll finally be able to stand out in the live shows. While it's a fun surprise, the stakes of the sing-off would be much higher if Hallack and Walker were more formidable players in the overall competition.
The most fun part of Showcase Week's performance is seeing which contestants use Hollywood Week as a learning experience and really grow as performers in the short amount of time between the two stages of the competition. Tyanna Jones is the perfect example of a contestant who really comes to life in her showcase performance, giving Beyonce's "Love On Top" her all and really solidifying herself as a frontrunner this early in the competition.
As for Hollywood Anderson, whether or not he's able to overcome his Hollywood Week stumble remains unknown until tomorrow's continuation of Showcase Week. Do you think he can reclaim the glory of his first audition?