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For the first time of the season, contestants on American Idol sang for America’s vote on Sunday night. The top 14 sang solos, and seven contestants will be voted through by viewers on Monday night’s results episode. Judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan will each pick an additional singer to round out the top 10.
First up was Laine Hardy, singing “That’s All Right” by Elvis Presley and rocking out on the guitar. He brought his grit and budding confidence to his singing, exhibiting strong showmanship. It wasn’t the most vocally complex song, but he had fun with it. “You know your strengths, and you’re playing them well,” Perry said. “Get a little looser,” Bryan said, adding that his voice has come so far.
Evelyn Cormier followed, singing “The Middle” by Jimmy Eats World. The song choice allowed her to show off a pop-rock side of her voice, staying in her lower register. She didn’t do much with the arrangement, singing close to the original, but it was memorable. “Was that a Van Halen leg kick I just saw?” Bryan asked. “That’s what show business is all about,” Richie said.
Alyssa Raghu slowed things down with her ballad performance of “She Used To Be Mine” by Sara Bareilles from the musical Waitress. She brought emotion without oversinging it, digging into the vocals. “Every time you come out, you give us a little more of a peek at your growth,” Richie said, emphasizing the fact that she’s only 17 years old. Perry said she’s a fan of hers.
Eddie Island did it up with his performance of “Bennie and the Jets” by Elton John, dressing in an over-the-top shaggy jacket. At time though, it seemed like he was just doing an Elton impression, and his vocals weren’t perfect. It was an ambitious song choice. Perry compared him to the band Counting Crows. “You are here because you make us smile,” Bryan said. “Isn’t it great being different?” Richie asked.
Singing “Suds in a Bucket” by Sara Evans, Riley Thompson showcased her classic country voice. She belted out some powerful notes. “How does it feel becoming a star?” Bryan asked, commending her song choice and the fact that she hit and held a high note. “You are owning the stage,” Perry said.
Wade Cota sang “Trouble” by Ray LaMontagne, which suited his raspy voice well. He made strong artistic choices throughout. “It was a spiritual moment,” Bryan said, praising him for his singing with his whole body. Richie gave him the nickname “the hammer.”
Next up, Dimitrius Graham sang “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran. He gave a very stylized, engaging performance and delivered a strong lyrical interpretation, too. His falsetto sounded strong, as usual. “You really developed into an artist,” Perry said. “You’re an exceptional singer.”
Madison VanDenburg got behind the piano for a performance of “Fallin” by Alicia Keys. It’s a vocally complex song, but she was up for the challenge. Her runs were impressive, and she built momentum throughout. “You just really made a statement,” Bryan said, encouraging her to become a diva. “You killed it,” Richie added.
Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon followed, also taking on Elton John. He sang “We All Fall in Love Sometimes,” accompanying himself on the piano. He managed to put some of his own touches on the song, showcasing artistry and huge range. “Your voice is amazing, and your career is going to be amazing,” Richie said. “I’m just so proud,” Perry said through tears. “You’re a light to the world.” Bryan got choked up as well.
Uche brought the heat with his performance of “Finesse” by Bruno Mars, showing off creative vocals but also dynamic dance moves. He also had excellent showmanship. The judges were all blown away. “You’ve come so far it’s miraculous,” Perry said. “That was like the best opening of an awards show.” Bryan added.
Alejandro Aranda sang “One Dance” by Drake and really made it his own, playing electric keyboard and showing off some beat mixing skills, too. He sang in his upper register and put on a good show. Bryan said he could be a DJ selling out Las Vegas. “You are so versatile,” Richie said. “I’m jealous.”
Ashley Hess got behind the piano for an emotional delivery of “Fix You” by Coldplay that showcased singer-songwriter vibes and a lot of attention to detail. It was an understated but powerful performance. Perry compared her to Carole King, and Bryan said the performance was very her.
Laci Kaye Booth did very interesting things with her performance of “I Miss You” by Blink 182. It was emotional, raw and original. “You are the definition, in my opinion, of Idol,” Perry said. “This is a big, special moment for you,” Richie, adding how proud the judges are that she has “blossomed.”
Closing out the night, Walker Burroughs gave a dramatic, captivating performance of “Climb Ev’ry Mountain” from The Sound Of Music, delivering striking dynamics and runs. “Way to roll the dice on it,” Bryan said, commending the ambitious song choice. “You have grown so much,” Richie said.
Now it’s up to the viewers. Seven contestants will be voted through to the top 10, and the judges will pick three more. The results will be announced on Monday night on ABC.
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