On Sunday night’s American Idol, the top 14 sang for America’s vote for the first time in the competition.
Each of the contestants performed a song of their choice — and every single one of them received varying degrees of glowing reviews from judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan.
While some chose the exact right song for their voice, others ventured out of their comfort zones. But there was only one show-stopping, drop-the-mic moment, courtesy of Uché. His performance of “Finesse,” by Bruno Mars, was hands down the most fun of the night.
Uché put his own spin on the song and did some actual spins in what was perhaps American Idol’s first ever dance break. The crowd went wild and so did the judges, with Katy sprawling out onto the judges’ table and Luke and Lionel giving her faux CPR. Luke called the performance a “show stopper” and asked if he could change his own name to Luché.
The night’s other stand-out was Madison VanDenburg, who poured her soul into “Fallin’,” by Alicia Keys. She immediately gave the judges goosebumps. Katy, who initially compared Madison to Kelly Clarkson, amended that statement, telling her, “We love Kelly Clarkson but you just carved out your own notch.”
As for the contestants showing off a different side to themselves, Alejandro Aranda ditched the beanie, the guitar and the emo attitude for — a DJ booth. He showed the judges he can do electronic music too by performing a reworked version of Drake’s “One Dance.” Lionel praised his versatility, saying, “As far as I’m concerned you’re now DJ Alejandro.”
Laci Kaye Booth gave Blink 182’s “I Miss You” some country flavor, Evelyn Cormier showed her upbeat side with a crowd pleasing performance of “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World, Dimitrius Graham gave an R&B mix to Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect,” and Walker Burroughs took a risk with the tough song “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” from The Sound of Music.
There were also two Elton John covers: Eddie Island delivered a flamboyant performance of “Bennie and the Jets” complete with rainbow fringe jacket, and Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon sang a heartfelt rendition of “We All Fall in Love Sometimes” at the piano. Harmon had the better performance, with Lionel giving him high praise: “You took an Elton John song went past Freddie Mercury and you Jeremiah’d the whole thing.”
The rest played to their strengths: Laine Hardy sang “That’s All Right” by Elvis Presley, Wade Cota brought his throaty rasp to Ray LaMontagne’s “Trouble,” Alyssa Raghu belted Sara Bareilles’ “She Used to Be Mine,” Riley Thompson performed “Suds in the Bucket” by Sara Evans, and Ashley Hess sang “Fix You,” by Coldplay.
America will now vote to see who makes the top 10. The public chooses seven, while the judges get to pick three when American Idol returns Monday night at 8:00 ET on ABC.
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