'American Idol': Top 8 Contestants Team Up for Duets

American Idol XV - Top 7 - H 2016
Courtesy of FOX

With the series finale less than a month away, the farewell season of American Idol is nearing its end. Tonight, two contestants were sent home after the nationwide vote to determine the top six. But before that happened, the top eight contestants all had the chance to sing a duet with another contestant. Judges Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban once again had the chance to save one artist from the bottom three.

Opening the show, La’Porsha Renae and Trent Harmon sang a duet of “See You Again,” and their voices blended perfectly. They sang Wiz Khalifa’s verse, which was a very strong creative choice. “You couldn’t ask for a better way to start the show,” Connick said.

Next up, Sonika Vaid and Avalon Young sang “Rise Up” by Andra Day. Vaid and Young are very different singers, but they ended up being another strong match. Their voices sounded incredible, and it was a very beautiful performance.

MacKenzie Bourg and Dalton Rapattoni collaborated on a duet of “I Want It That Way” by Backstreet Boys. The song choice definitely seemed to be more in Rapattoni’s wheelhouse than Bourg’s. Bourg played the guitar and maintained his very soft and melodic tone in the performance. Rapattoni was, as usual, a great performer with a lot of charm, but the duet just didn’t really come together, and they didn’t stray too far from the original recording. Connick wasn’t a fan of the song choice, mainly because he doesn’t think the lyrics make any sense.

Lee Jean and Tristan McIntosh sang Aerosmith's “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” for their duet. Jean has been sick this week, which definitely affected his vocals. The key and song choice favored McIntosh, and the arrangement just wasn’t that exciting. “It was nothing special,” Connick said, adding that it was boring and bland.

With the duets over, it was time for the artists to move on to their solo performances. Ryan Seacrest gradually announced which artists would be advancing to next week. The first contestant through was Renae, who was reunited with one of the teachers who inspired her early in life. Renae shook things up this week, getting her rock on with a powerful rendition of “Come Together” by The Beatles. It was a fantastic performance that proved she can do a lot more than power ballads. Lopez pointed out that Renae has the ability to make people feel cool just from listening to her. It was the best performance of the night.

Bourg advanced next, and before his performance, he talked a bit about how he went from being an athlete to being a singer-songwriter. He sang “You Are So Beautiful” by Joe Cocker, and it was a major improvement from the duet. Bourg connected to the words and put on a captivating performance. “You couldn’t have picked a more appropriate song,” Connick said. “You made it sound brand new,” Urban said.

Next, season 14 winner Nick Fradiani took the stage to debut his new single “Get You Home.” Fradiani also offered advice to the remaining contestants: “Enjoy it ... come out here and do your best.”

The competition resumed with Harmon, who sang “Stand By Me.” It was a different song choice for Harmon that allowed him to give a very soulful performance. Harmon has grown a lot as an artist over the course of the season, which Urban highlighted in his feedback. It was definitely one of Harmon’s more interesting performances.

Tristan McIntosh also made it into the top six, and she sang “A Broken Wing” by Martina McBride. It was a solid country performance, and McIntosh really connected with the emotions of the song. Like Harmon, McIntosh has come into her own over the course of the season. “I absolutely love when you sing country,” Connick said.

The last artist to automatically advance to the Top 6 was Rapattoni, who sang “Eleanor Rigby.” He did an edgy, moody rock arrangement of the song, and the performance had a lot more of his personality and artistry in it than in his duet. Rapattoni brought theatrics to the song without overdoing it, and the judges loved it.

That left Jean, Vaid and Young in the bottom three. They sang for the judges, who then got to save only one of them from elimination. First up was Young, who was saved by the judges last week. She sang “P.Y.T.,” which suited her very rhythmic style of singing. Young brought the heat again, not letting the pressure of the situation get to her. Young always puts on a good show, and it’s surprising that she keeps ending up in the bottom three.

Jean sang “Let It Be,” and again he seemed to be struggling from being sick this week. Still, Jean has an undeniably gorgeous voice, and he particularly excels with the emotional side of performing, but tonight he was a bit pitchy, which easily could have been due to nerves. “You’re really smart. You really connect to the lyrics,” Connick said.

Vaid went last, singing “I Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston in the hopes of being saved by the judges. It was a perfect song for the scenario, and Vaid sang it beautifully. Her vocals were stunning, and she also brought emotion to the performance. She channeled the emotion she was feeling in the moment into her singing, and made for a powerful performance.

The judges conferred and made their decision. They saved Vaid. Jean and Young were eliminated.

What did you think of tonight’s results? American Idol continues with the top six next week.