Easter (and April Fool’s Day) be damned! This is American Idol, and the show apparently must go on. The task at hand: chip the 76 remaining contestants down to 50 on night two of Hollywood Week, during the Solo Rounds.
A flurry of singers are paraded before judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan, each hoping to secure a spot in what will eventually become the Top 24. First up is 17 year old Pittsburgh native Gabby Barrett, who does a stellar job with Aretha Franklin’s “Ain’t No Way.” It’s the first of two back-to-back showings by contestants taking on the Queen of Soul, as perpetually teary-eyed dad Marcio Donaldson reinterprets her version of “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.”
Modesto, California powerhouse Effie Passero is up next. She does a mean rendition of Heart’s ’80s power ballad “Alone,” and seals the deal on being a top contender in this competition. Effie is followed by Amelia Hammer Harris, who we unfortunately don’t get to hear sing much, due to the way her segment is edited. At least she looks good in her dad’s vintage jacket, though.
Texas rocker Cade Foehner plugs in for a rousing performance of Portugal. The Man’s recent Grammy-winning smash “Feel It Still.” He’s followed by Texas teen Harper Grace, who mesmerizes all three judges with her catchy original piano ballad “R.I.P.”
Arkansas farm boy and “wig”-snatcher Noah Davis stumbles with his nasal rendering of Kelly Clarkson’s “Piece By Piece.” His pal Catie Turner fares somewhat better with her original song “Pity.” After that, Brandon Elder and Dennis Lorenzo separately struggle while trying to stand out with Idol alum Chris Daughtry’s inspirational anthem “Home.”
Iowa college student Maddie Poppe does a cute original tune called “Don’t Ever Let Your Children Grow Up.” She’s followed by my Miami favorite Michelle Sussett, who you’ll remember got Katy Perry to dance until she toppled over and flashed the cameras during the first week of auditions. Michelle gives a refreshing performance of Diana Ross’ “I’m Coming Out.”
Past Idol winner Phillip Phillips’ “Home” proves to be a popular choice, as both Congo refugee Ron Bultongez and Katy’s crush Trevor Holmes give the song a shot in front of the judges. Meanwhile, karaoke queen Crystal Alicea makes the fatal mistake of tackling an Adele song — in this case, “Set Fire To The Rain.” It’s by far the night’s lowest point.
Other lackluster performances come courtesy of: Jonny Brenns, who stumbles vocally with OneRepublic’s “I Lived”; over-confident Deonte Baker, who chews up the scenery with Sam Smith’s “Too Good At Goodbyes”; and 18-year-old Jurnee, whose take on Ariana Grande’s “One Last Time” prompts Katy to quip, “Wrong song. Not the song for her.”
Teens Maddie Zahm from Idaho and Shannon O’Hara continue to shine this time around, with the latter doing an especially noteworthy turn with Patty Griffin’s modern day standard “Up To The Mountain.”
Genavieve Linkowski, Garrett Jacobs, Gabbii Jones and Kay Kay all crash and burn with their respective attempts to make one final impression during Hollywood Week. Even once-promising swamp kid Laine Hardy can’t quite make Chris Stapleton’s “Fire Away” work for him. But Frisco, Texas vocal coach Britney Holmes nails it with a soulful take on Ed Sheeran’s “Dive,” as does Thaddeus Johnson with Katy’s own 2016 Olympics anthem “Rise.”
Georgia country boy Caleb Lee Hutchinson and Philly’s Michael J. Woodard end the Solo Rounds on high notes. Michael in particular gets Lionel, Katy and Luke up out of their seats as he hits every note while singing Cabaret showtune “Maybe This Time.”
Before the the episode ends, we’re treated to the old “divide the contestants up into three separate rooms and drag out the announcement of who’s staying and who’s going over at least one commercial break” routine. Sent packing are Crystal Alicea, Brandon Elder and a slew of other teary-eyed never-wases. Safe for at least one more night: Catie Turner, Maddie Zahm, Ada Vox, Effie Passero, Milo Sposato and several other ecstatic-but-stressed hopefuls.