7:27pm PT by Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya
'American Idol': Top 14 Sing for America's Vote
The top 14 contestants on ABC's American Idol finally had the chance to sing for America’s vote on Sunday night, with judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan on hand to offer feedback.
First up was country singer Caleb Lee Hutchinson singing “Midnight Train to Memphis” by Chris Stapleton, accompanying himself on the banjo. It was a straightforward and charming country performance, and his tone fit the song well. Perry praised his evolution as an artist, but Bryan didn’t love the song choice, as he tends to be more critical of the country performances since that’s his wheelhouse.
Michelle Sussette was up next, singing “Friends” by Marshmello & Anne Marie. As usual, she was confident onstage, giving off strong pop star vibes. Perry even compared her to Shakira. Sussette is one of the strongest performers in the competition, even though her vocals don’t necessarily stand out. Bryan pointed out that she has carved out a specific lane, which is definitely important at this stage of the competition.
Marcio Donaldson followed with an emotional performance of “It’s a Miracle” by Barry Manilow. He sang with confidence, delivering an original interpretation of the song and connecting on an emotional level, which has consistently been his strength in the competition. Richie praised his old-school sound, but Bryan didn’t love this song choice, either. Contestants definitely seemed to be under the pressure of having to sing for viewers’ votes on Sunday night.
Young singer Mara Justine next sang “This Is Me” by Keala Settle. She sang with conviction, putting a lot of feeling behind her vocal. Perry praised her journey and development on the show. The judges didn’t necessarily think it was the best performance vocally, but they were impressed by her stage presence.
Singing “Raging Fire” by former Idol winner Phillip Phillips, Garrett Jacobs brought experience and dynamics to his performance. But the judges seemed underwhelmed, with Richie suggesting that he wasn’t entirely focused while singing. There definitely seemed to be a nervous energy in the air.
Ada Vox, who has consistently delivered some of the best performances of the season, was up next. She sang “The Show Must Go On” by Queen, and it was appropriately theatrical and bold. She showcased her impressive range and nailed the wild high note. “You are on fire,” Perry said. Unlike so many of the others, Vox didn’t seem fazed by nerves.
Early frontrunner Catie Turner was up next, singing “Take Me to Church” by Hozier. As usual, she put some of her own spins on it, coming off as a true singer-songwriter in her originality and creativity. Bryan suggested that she could win, and Richie praised her authenticity. Since the beginning, Turner has had a strong sense of who she is.
Rocker Cade Foehner followed with a performance of “Black Magic Woman” by Fleetwood Mac, accompanying himself on the guitar. He was charming and sure of himself, as usual, but his vocals weren’t pitch perfect. His guitar playing tends to overshadow his voice. Even the judges seemed focused only on his charisma rather than his voice.
Dennis Lorenzo sang “In My Blood” by Shawn Mendes, and it was his personal best performance of the competition so far. He showed a different side of his voice and performance abilities, working the stage and coming off as seasoned and sure of himself. It was raw and authentic, and Bryan pointed out that he has shown a lot of different sides of his artistry.
Maddie Poppe was up next, singing “Homeward Bound” by Simon and Garfunkel. She gave an understated but gorgeous performance, her phrasing on point and her lyrical interpretation moving. Perry compared her to Joni Mitchell, which definitely seems to be the lane Poppe has been carving out for herself.
Jurnee followed by singing “Bang Bang” by Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj. It was a strong song choice for her, allowing her to show off different dynamics and even rap a little bit. Like Sussette, she came off as a seasoned pop star ready for the spotlight. Her confidence has been unshakeable. "Thank you for showing us another element, another side," Bryan said. Perry called her a true artist.
Singing “This Is Gospel” by Panic at the Disco, Jonny Brenns gave a unique and interesting performance. It was a risky song choice, but it worked. His vocal wasn’t pitch perfect, but he showed ambition and was a good entertainer. Perry said it was fun but admitted the vocal needed some work.
Michael J. Woodard sang “Titanium” by Sia, which was an ambitious song choice, but he pulled it off, giving it an edge that made it sound like his own. He sang boldly without oversinging, and it was a seasoned and compelling performance. Bryan praised his ability to draw people in. He certainly showcased that magnetism tonight.
Gabby Barrett closed out the performances by singing the emotional Miley Cyrus ballad “The Climb.” It wasn’t necessarily the most exciting song choice, but she sang it well, exhibiting a star quality that she has yet to show in the competition. “A star is born,” Richie said.
On Monday night, four contestants will be eliminated from the competition. Who has your vote?