7:09pm PT by Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya
'American Idol': Six Sing for America's Vote, Top Four Revealed
The top six contestants of season two of ABC's American Idol performed live for America’s vote on Sunday night. They sang an inspiration song of their choosing as well as a song performed at Woodstock in 1969 for some throwback performances. Judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie were on hand for feedback and went into the evening of live performances and results with their only save of the season still available to use. The pool was cut into the final four during the episode.
Madison VanDenberg got things started with a performance of the Janis Joplin song “Piece of My Heart.” She was able to showcase a rocker side to her singing and also played guitar for the performance. Richie called her a star, and Bryan noted her continual improvement and evolution on the show.
Laine Hardy followed by singing “I Don’t Need No Doctor,” which was covered by Joe Cocker at the legendary fest. Hardy laid into the song with attitude and the right amount of stylization. Bryan praised his strong song choices. “Your voice has that certain sweet spot,” he said. Richie commended him on showcasing his personality in his singing. “I think you figured this chess game out,” Perry said, asking Hardy to challenge himself even more.
Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon’s Woodstock performance was of the standard “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” He showcased impressive range and technical skills but also put on an entertaining show. “You’re bringing the bling and the swing,” Richie said. Bryan said it was one of his best performances. “Thank you for showing off again,” Perry said.
Laci Kaye Booth also took on a tune Joplin sang, performing “To Love Somebody.” The arrangement played to her strengths, her rasp cutting through. “You really, really dug in,” Bryan said. “This is cool to watch.” Perry encouraged her to move more onstage.
Alejandro Aranda sang “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane, giving a seductive and dark performance that showcased his artistry and consistently strong creative choices. “That really channeled the spirit of Woodstock,” Bryan said, adding that Aranda also channeled Pink Floyd. “You kind of had a little rock star, EDM moment.”
For his Woodstock rendition, Wade Cota sang “With a Little Help From My Friends,” his unique rasp and tone helping him put some signature touches on the song. “It’s a perfect song for you,” Richie said. “You knocked it out of the park.” Perry said it was the best performance she had seen of the night so far.
After a performance by Gabby Barrett, VanDenberg took the stage again to sing “I Surrender” by Celine Dion. Big ballads have proven to be one her strong suits, and this song choice allowed her to deliver another powerful performance. Perry noted that she could see her really feeling the emotions of the song.
Aranda took a risk by performing an original song called “Poison,” but it was the right choice for him. It was captivating, soulful performance that really showcased what kind of artist he hopes to be. Perry said it was the best he has ever sung on the show.
Booth was back up to sing “Open Arms” by Journey, belting out some big notes and putting some country touches on the song. It allowed her to show a different side to her voice. Perry noted her multidimensionality, and Richie praised her delivery.
Harmon returned to sing the Barbra Streisand tune “Somewhere,” which was another perfect song choice for him, allowing him to deliver a complex, powerful vocal. Richie called it mesmerizing and that everyone was locked in from the start.
Singing “Through the Valley” by Shawn James, Cota came back with an edgy, haunting performance. Bryan compared him to Johnny Cash, and Perry said it looked like he believes in himself.
In the final performance of the night, Hardy sang “Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry, stepping out of his comfort zone slightly in the way Perry had been encouraging. He let loose onstage and delivered a rich, dynamic vocal with a lot of texture. Richie said the song choice was perfect.
After the nationwide vote, the top four were announced. VanDenberg, Hardy, Aranda and Cota all advanced as the final four finalists. Harmon and Booth were both voted off, but the judges swooped in to finally use their save to keep Booth around, turning the top four into the top five.