'American Idol': Final Top 10 Sing for America's Vote, Kelly Clarkson Comes Back to Judge

American Idol XV - Top 10 - H 2016
Courtesy of FOX

Tonight, Ryan Seacrest announced the final Top 10 contestants of American Idol’s farewell season.

Four singers—Dalton Rapattoni, Olivia Rox, Trent Harmon and La’Porsha Renae—were already selected by judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. America voted to determine who would fill the remaining six spots after last night’s performances.

The first artist sent through to the Top 10 by the American public was Tristan McIntosh, followed by Sonika Vaid, Gianna Taylor, MacKenzie Bourg, Avalon Young and Lee Jean. Manny Torres, Thomas Stringfellow, Jenn Blosil and Jeneve Rose Mitchell were all eliminated. After the results, Seacrest brought out the first Idol ever, Kelly Clarkson, who served as a guest judge throughout the night.

The first Top 10 artist to take the Idol stage was Olivia Rox, singing “Unconditionally” by Katy Perry. Before her performance, Rox talked about how American Idol has played such a big part of her life, and now it is her life. The judges loved the song choice and her arrangement of it. Rox has had a very strong Idol journey so far, and her artistry comes through more and more every week.

Gianna Isabella, who also grew up watching Idol, kept the power ballads going, singing “Listen” by Beyoncé. Like Rox, she put a lot of power behind the vocals. But she didn’t land all of her runs, and it wasn’t her best performance. Lopez said she needs to step it up. “You have such a beautiful gift,” Clarkson added, but she cautioned Taylor to not get too in her head. Clarkson seconded the sentiment that it was almost too rehearsed. Isabella has the technical skills, but she needs to loosen up on stage.

Next, Lee Jean took the stage for a performance of “Skinny Love” by Bon Iver. It was the perfect song choice for him and felt like the kind of music Jean wants to make one day. Jean sounded great, and he is consistently one of the best contestants at connecting with the words he’s singing. “You tell a story,” Urban said. Jean has really figured out what he does well, and he has such a strong sense of self for his age. The judges encouraged him to maybe try something a little outside of his comfort zone, but they also agreed that the fact that he has found his niche is one of his assets.

Avalon Young sang “Stitches” next, and while it wasn’t quite as good as last night’s standout performance, Young still proved that she belongs in this competition. Young has something special about her, and while she may have let nerves get to her tonight, she still really seems to know who she is as an artist. Clarkson admitted that she doesn’t usually like the original versions of the songs that Young sings but that she loves them when Young takes them on.

Dalton Rapattoni sang “Hey There Delilah,” and in his usual move, he put his own spin on it and brought a lot of personality to the performance. He worked the stage well, and the performance had a lot of energy. Clarkson commended his artistry and noted that she loves that every song choice of his is so different from the last. “Every time you’ve sung, you have completely flipped the concept for the arrangement,” Connick said. “And so far, you are batting 1,000.”

He was followed by Tristan McIntosh, who sang “Nothin’ Like You” by Dan + Shay. McIntosh has consistently delivered strong country performances. She was a little pitchy tonight and it wasn’t her best, but she shows a lot of talent. Lopez told her she needs to find the right songs that she’s really going to feel comfortable with. Clarkson told her to try to get back to the place where she was for her first audition, when she really came off as so confident and sang effortlessly.

MacKenzie Bourg sang “I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran, and it was a beautiful performance that showcased a lot of his strengths, especially his lyric delivery. “You’re very compelling when you sing,” Connick said. He had Bourg share his interpretation of the lyrics, and Bourg said the song reminds him of the feeling he gets from this competition. He feels a fire within him.

La’Porsha Renae performed next, singing “Diamonds” by Rihanna. Renae brought some of her own style to the arrangement, and she took risks with the vocals, which really paid off. Renae nailed the runs and gave a stunning performance. Renae got standing ovations from Urban, Lopez and Clarkson. The crowd went wild when the performance finished, and Renae was moved to tears. She deserved all the hype. It was the best performance of the night. “You’re so, so blessed,” Clarkson said. “You’re in control,” Lopez added.

Before her performance, Vaid shared that Clarkson has been a big inspiration for her. Vaid sang “Bring Me To Life” by Evanescence, and it was her personal best performance so far in the competition. The song choice highlighted the power behind her voice and her impressive range, but it was something a little different from the sweeter ballads she has been doing. Vaid tapped into the drama of the lyrics without being too theatrical. For the first time tonight, Vaid really let go, and it made a difference. Vaid never misses a note, and she may have given Renae a run for her money for top performance of the night.

Following Vaid, Trent Harmon sang “Like I Can” by Sam Smith, putting a bit of a country twist on the song. It was a strong song choice for Harmon, and he pulled off some impressive runs, but it wasn’t memorable enough for this stage of the competition. Still, Harmon is a very strong vocalist who rarely misses a note.

Closing out the night, original Idol Clarkson gave a very emotional performance of her single "Piece By Piece." She had to push through tears to finish the song.

Next week, the top eight contestants will be revealed. What did you think of tonight’s performances? Sound off in the comments below.