'American Idol': Contestants Crack Under the Pressure of Hollywood Week

American Idol - Publicity Still - H 2020

The American Idol contestant pool was whittled down Monday to a top 40 on the third night of Hollywood Week. Following a genre challenge and duets in the previous episodes, the remaining contestants had to sing solo showcases. Judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie made more cuts. Last season’s runner-up Alejandro Aranda also dropped by Hollywood Week to offer guidance.

One of the standout performances came at the top when Kimmy Gabriela sang “I’m Here” from The Color Purple. She brought Perry to her feet and exceeded her performance in the duets. Sophia Wackerman also tried to tackle a show tune later in the episode, singing “Somewhere” from West Side Story, but she couldn’t quite pull it off. Her friend Sara Isen, with whom she sang a duet on the previous night, fared better with her solo performance.

Genavieve Linkowski sang “In My Blood” by Shawn Mendes, and the pressure was on since this was as far as Linkowski made it when she previously competed on the show. Singing “Parachute” by Chris Stapleton, Jovin Webb gave an entertaining performance, and the show introduced Perrin York, who hadn’t previously been given much screen time and who sang “Good as Hell” by Lizzo.

Faith Becnel sang “Cry Baby,” and Jeb Vonderbruegge sang “Rocket Man,” which was a risky song choice. Arthur Gunn took a huge risk by repeating the same song he did for his audition. He sang “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” again, and he put some of his own twists on it, shaking up the melody.

Several of the singer-songwriters on the show decided to channel Aranda and sing original songs, even though Perry cautioned against it. Robert Taylor, Amelia Joyce, Julia Gorgano and James Levy all sang originals that had some weak spots. However, Lauren Mascetti managed to pull off singing an original. Dillon James also managed to pull it off.

Kat Luna, whose boyfriend was eliminated on the previous night of Hollywood Week, gave a solid solo performance, but she was followed by one of the top performances of the night, which came from Franklin Boone. He sang “River” by Leon Bridges and blew the judges away. Just Sam was having some vocal issues, but she still pulled out a great performance of “I’m Here.”

Marcus Tinsley and Sheniel Maisonet, however, couldn’t quite overcome their nerves in their solo performances, and Talin Everett also forgot his lyrics and started singing about his flubs. Nick Merico bombed his performance after having a strong start to the season.

Camryn Leigh Smith and Devon Alexander turned things around with impressive performances, and Lauren Spencer-Smith sang a song she had never performed before but still managed to nail it.

Makayla Brownlee had a reaction to stress that was amplified by her heart condition, but she eventually was able to sing “Rainbow.” She gave a powerful rendition that cemented her status as a top performer this season. Louis Knight gave a performance that was powerful and emotional despite having some vocal flaws.

Cyniah Elise, Geena, Olivia Ximines and YZThasinger all sang “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” Makayla Phillips sang Lizzo’s “Cuz I Love You,” but it’s a tough song to perform and Perry was disappointed with the choice.

Couple Margie Mays and Jonny West had a rough duet the previous night. For their solo performances, West delivered a solid effort of an original, but Mays gave a lackluster performance.

Then it was time for the judges to make their deliberations. In usual Hollywood Week fashion, they divided the contestants into three rooms. Some of the contestants who were eliminated were Kat Luna, Margie Mays, YZThasinger and Jimmy Levi. While Mays was eliminated, West made it through along with two whole rooms.

The Top 40 will perform next week on ABC.