Idol Worship

'American Idol' Recap: Contestants Sing Songs Picked by Fans, Top 5 is Revealed

Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr.
Michael Becker / FOX. © FOX Broadcasting

Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick, Jr., at the taping of American Idol XV on Aug. 22 in Little Rock, AK.

Tonight’s American Idol opened with Adam Lambert reprising his memorable performance of “Mad World” when he was on the show in season 8. After, Ryan Seacrest brought out judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. as well as the farewell season’s Top 6. Seacrest gradually announced who was safe throughout the episode, and the safe contestants gave their first performances of the night. Then the bottom two sang for the chance to get the last judges’ save of the season. The top five then sang their second songs for consideration this week.

All of the song choices tonight were voted on by viewers, and the pre-performance packages featured video clips of fans and family from the contestants’ respective hometowns.

The first artist safe was Trent Harmon, who sang “Counting Stars” by OneRepublic. It was something different for Harmon, who seems to be determined to show that he is a more versatile artist than the early weeks of the competition suggested. He brought a lot of energy to the performance, but it was too far outside of his wheelhouse. “I don’t think that song and you, personality-wise, came together,” Urban said. Something about the performance was off, but Harmon would have a chance to sing again later in the night.

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Dalton Rapattoni was also voted through, and Idol fans selected “Numb” by Linkin Park for him to sing. Rapattoni gave a slightly softer vibe to the song than the original recording, slowing it down. But he still held on to the song’s inherent darkness. “You’re a crowd favorite here,” Lopez said. But she wished that he hadn’t softened it so much. Connick, however, praised Rapattoni for pouring his guts into the lyrics.

Next, La’Porsha Renae was voted through and sang “Ready for Love” by India.Arie for her first performance.

Renae is always fantastic when it comes to the emotional, theatrical power ballads, and tonight was no exception. Her raw talent was on full display. Connick loved her reading of the lyrics. “It was all about the feeling,” Connick said. “It was phenomenal.” Urban said he was so captivated by her that he didn’t even feel like he was judging while listening. “It was just a complete performance in every way,” Lopez added.
Idol took a short break from the results so that Empire’s Yaz and Jussie Smollett could take the stage to debut the new song “Never Let It Die.”

The last artist to automatically advance was MacKenzie Bourg, who sang “Wild World” by Cat Stevens for his first performance. Bourg’s smooth and delicate tone was perfect for the song. He had some fun with it. “You’re a bit like cake batter. Even when it’s not cooked, it’s still really good, man,” Urban said. Lopez added that she enjoyed every second of the performance. “I always feel like you’re singing to me,” she said.

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That left Sonika Vaid and Tristan McIntosh in the bottom two. For the second week in a row, Vaid had to sing for the judges’ save. But first up was McIntosh, who sang “Independence Day” by Martina McBride. McIntosh played piano during her performance, and the energy of the song really built, but unfortunately, it just didn’t quite all come together. Lopez pointed out that McIntosh has given a lot of similar performances, which might be why she has had trouble exciting voters.

Vaid sang Demi Lovato’s version of “Let It Go,” which was a great choice. Vaid’s stunning voice cut through the song, and she also came to life with some of the theatrics of the song. The judges have been telling Vaid to let go on stage, so she had an honest and clear connection to the lyrics. Vaid knows how to lay it all out there, and the judges were captivated. “You are shy, but you are also very fierce. You are a fighter,” Lopez said.

The judges agreed to save Vaid, and McIntosh was eliminated. The Top 5 -- Vaid, Harmon, Rapattoni, Renae and Bourg -- then moved on to their second songs of the night.

Rapattoni was up again, this time singing “The Sound Of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel. It felt much more like him than the first performance and was actually reminiscent of Lambert. Rapattoni dug into the lyrics just like he did in his first performance of the night, but this time, the energy was just a little more exciting. “We really felt like we were getting a piece of your soul there,” Lopez said. In the package before his second performance, Rapattoni shared that he has bipolar disorder.

Lambert took the stage again to perform his new single “Welcome To The Show.” It was dependably dramatic and powerful.

Next, Bourg performed again, singing an inventive arrangement of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean.” Bourg stripped down the song and gave a simple and elegant performance  that fit his style and voice very naturally. “That was the most special version that we’ve ever seen,” Lopez said. Bourg proved why he belongs in the competition.

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Harmon sang Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” for his second performance. It suited him a bit more than the first song. Harmon showed growth this time around. Lopez said his performance reminded her why she loves to be a part of Idol.

Not long after being saved by the judges, Vaid took the stage again to sing “Clarity” by Zedd. It paired nicely

with her earlier performance, showing a slightly different side to her artistry. Vaid let go and worked the stage, looking the most comfortable she has looked while performing all season. The judges weren’t crazy about the song choice, but Vaid already proved she belongs here with her first performance of the night.

In her pre-performance packed, Renae talked about her former abusive relationship and how she and her daughter got out. Renae closed out the night with Mary J. Blige’s “No More Drama,” and it was yet another perfect song choice for her. She believed what she was singing and had a really clear connection to the lyrics.

Renae has yet to miss a beat in the competition. She consistently gives the best performances of the evening, and that was certainly true tonight. Renae is such a clear choice for the final American Idol. Her performance moved Lopez to tears, and Renae cried, too. "You're an inspiration," Lopez said.

Next week, there will be no saves, so it will all come down to the voting. Who got your vote tonight?

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