7:17pm PT by Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya
'American Idol': Top 40 Showcases Begin
The Top 40 contestants of American Idol traveled to Hawaii with judges Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and host Ryan Seacrest to perform in a prerecorded episode of performances. The judges had to narrow the pool down to a Top 20, and the episode has been split into two parts. The second part will air next week. Bobby Bones served as mentor.
Early favorite Nick Merico went first, singing “When I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars. The ballad was a solid choice for his voice, and even though he had some pitch issues, he gave a charming performance. Merico noted in his judgement session that he worked hard after getting feedback from Richie in his initial audition. Richie got to tell him he made the Top 20.
The news was not as positive for Makayla Brownlee, who experienced a seizure during Hollywood Week. She sang “More Hearts Than Mine,” and she had too many issues finding the notes. She was eliminated. Camryn Lee Smith was also eliminated after her performance of “Break Every Chain.” “Here at American Idol, we’ve got to see growth,” Perry said during her judgement.
Devon Alexander, Jordan Jones and Geena were also eliminated after performances that weren’t quite tight enough to get them into the Top 20.
DeWayne Crocker Jr. impressed with his original take on “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X. He showcased artistry and made the song more vocally complex. His runs and arrangement were very strong, and it earned him a place in the Top 20. Richie was worried it was going to be too gimmicky, but he admitted it worked.
Louis Knight sang “Castle on the Hill” by Ed Sheeran, saying it reminded him of home. He struggled in rehearsals, but he was able to bring it back around for his final performance. Perry encouraged him to get out of his own head in his judgement. And while there was room for improvement, he did make it into the Top 20.
He was joined by Francisco Martin, who coasted into the Top 20 with his performance of “Falling” by Harry Styles. “I was like is that Bruno Mars up there?” Perry said. The judges were blown away by his performance skills.
Jovin Webb sang “You Are the Best Thing” by Ray Lamontagne and brought a lot of smooth vocals to the table with a touch of grit. “Last night, you did not hit all the notes,” Richie said in his judgement. “But for us, you have a sound that will work for you in this business,” he added. Bryan praised his artistry. Webb did make it into the Top 20.
Faith Becnel gave an entertaining performance of “Ain’t Nobody,” and Bryan said it was “not a step up” for her, though he added that the judges love her personality and trajectory. She advanced to the Top 20.
After her performance of “Good Kisser,” Amber Fiedler said she wouldn’t have changed anything about it. “From the day we’ve met you, we have loved your tone,” Bryan said. But he added that she seemed to have lost sight of the prize in her Top 40 performance. She was eliminated.
Just Sam went big with her Top 40 performance and sang “Como La Flor” by Selena. She gave an entertaining and vocally tight performance. “You were the definition of elegance,” Perry said of her showcase. She noted that she went through a metamorphosis. She easily made the Top 20.
Jonny West, whose girlfriend Margie Mays was eliminated during Hollywood Week, sang “You Found Me.” Mays was in the crowd for his showcase performance, which did have some pitch issues. He has struggled with nerves, but Perry praised his abilities as an artist and encouraged him to get over the self doubt. He secured a spot in the Top 20.
Dillon James closed things out with his performance of “Times They Are a Changin’” by Bob Dylan, and he managed to make it his own without changing too much. However, his fate will not be announced until next week.
The rest of the prerecorded showcases will air next week on ABC, but after that, Idol will either have to postpone or come up with an alternative way to proceed with the season due to COVID-19 concerns.