'American Idol': The Top 8 Is Revealed

American Idol XV - Top 8 - H 2016
Courtesy of FOX

Tonight on the farewell season of American Idol, the Top 10 was whittled down to the Top 8 in an intense double-elimination episode.

Ryan Seacrest gradually announced who was voted through to next week over the course of the episode, and the bottom three were announced at the end. The bottom three then had the chance to sing for safety, with judges Jennifer Lopez, Harry Connick Jr. and Keith Urban picking just one contestant to save.

The first contestant voted through to the Top 8 was Dalton Rapattoni, who sang “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons. Rapattoni usually excels at picking his songs, but this wasn’t really the right song choice for him. He sang a very similar version to the original recording instead of putting his own twist on it, and it just wasn’t very representative of his personality as his past performances have been. The judges all noted that it lacked his usual “electricity.” But Rapattoni is still one of the more interesting artists this season.

After the nationwide vote, Lee Jean also made it into the Top 8. Tonight, he sang “Use Somebody” by Kings Of Leon, which was the perfect song choice for him. He sounded great and put on an engaging performance. Jean has the best lyric delivery of anyone in the competition, regardless of what he sings. Tonight, he showed a slightly different side of his voice.

Demi Lovato dropped by the Idol stage next to perform her single “Confident” with the Top 10. Sonika Vaid, Olivia Rox and La’Porsha Renae especially stood out in the group performance, holding their own with Lovato, who also gave a powerful solo performance of her single “Stone Cold.”

Vaid was also voted through, and she sang Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” tonight. Before her performance, Vaid shared that last week was the first time when she didn’t feel nervous before performing. It showed then, and her confidence continued through to tonight. Vaid is great at the slower, softer ballads, but the more upbeat streak she has been on really brings her to life as a performer. And her beautiful tone still comes across, even when she’s singing angry songs. Even though she didn’t let loose quite as much as she did last week, it was still a great performance. The judges pushed her to open up even more.

MacKenzie Bourg also advanced, singing Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” It was a bit of a departure from his usual song choice, but it paid off. Bourg brought his unique tone to the song, and it made for a fun and captivating performance. “Some switch ups don’t work, but that switch up really worked,” Lopez said. She encouraged Bourg to also let go a little more in the same way Vaid should. Bourg dedicated the performance to his grandmother.

The next artist voted through was La’Porsha Renae, who followed up her excellent performance of Rihanna’s “Diamonds” with an excellent performance of Beyoncé’s “Halo.” Renae looked amazing and sounded amazing, hitting every note in her runs and making the song her own with some impressive ad libs at the end. Renae shines every time she takes the stage. “You know how to give a song a beginning, a middle, and an end,” Connick said. “You’re a hard act to follow,” Lopez said.

Well, fortunately for the other contestants, it was Connick who had to follow. He sang “I Do Like We Do” and played the piano.

Then it was back to the competition, with Seacrest announcing that America voted Trent Harmon through to the Top 8. In his rehearsals this week, Harmon worked on his facial movement because of the feedback he has been getting about the strange faces he tends to make while performing. Tonight, he sang “When A Man Loves A Woman,” and it was a very different performance for him. His voice sounded great, but he may have been a little too in his head about his facial expressions, because he seemed tense. Urban told him to remember to emote. Lopez loved the performance and said she could easily see him and Renae in the finale.

The final person to make the Top 8 without having to sing for the judges’ save was Tristan McIntosh. She sang “Go Rest High On That Mountain” by Vince Gill and played the piano. It wasn’t the most exciting performance, but her voice sounded beautiful, and the judges loved the song choice. McIntosh has shown a lot of improvement over the course of the season. She dedicated the performance to her grandfather.

That left Gianna Isabella, Olivia Rox and Avalon Young in the bottom three. It was very surprising to see Rox and Young—who have been two of the most consistent performers this season—in the bottom three, especially since at least one of them would have to go home. But before the judges could make their call, all three artists got their chance to sing for the save. “I can’t believe these three are up there,” Urban said.

Young sang first, and after the tepid reception to her song choice last week, she chose a song that she really felt is in her zone: “Earned It” by The Weeknd. It was definitely the right decision, and the performance played to all of Young’s strengths. Young has a very specific sound, and she brings something different to the competition. As far as singing for a save goes, she truly gave it her all. It was easily her best performance of the season. “There is no one like you in the competition,” Lopez said. “You couldn’t have sung a better song at a better time,” Connick added.

Rox followed, singing “Trouble” by Pink. It was another solid song choice that really let Rox showcase everything she does well. She put on a great show and had powerful vocals, refusing to let the pressure of the situation get to her. She hit some huge notes. Connick wanted to see some more vulnerability, but he admitted that it was a very vocally strong performance. Overall though, the judges’ feedback was a lot more hesitant than it was for Young.

They still needed to hear Isabella’s performance. She sang “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys, and she incorporated all the feedback she got from the judges last week, giving a performance that didn’t feel as overwrought. She connected with the emotions of the song and nailed the vocals at the same time.

Faced with a tough decision, the judges saved Young. Rox and Isabella were both sent home. What did you think of tonight’s double-elimination?