We’ve hit the Final Judgement on American Idol, wherein the 40 contestants who survived Hollywood week are jetted off to Hawaii for one last performance before judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan chop them down to the Top 20.
Host Ryan Seacrest gives us a pre-show announcement to let viewers know these episodes were previously recorded in January, before the current health crisis tightened its grip on the world and halted production on the series.
Originally, the two-night Hawaii extravaganza was to air this evening (Sunday, March 29) and Monday (March 30), but the latter ep has been bumped to next week, to buy ABC some time while deciding what can be done about the forthcoming live episodes.
Until then, let’s see how things played out at Disney’s Aulani resort in Ko Olina for these kiddos.
This actor-turned-server was too cocky for his own good at his audition this year, but too good not to make it this far. Nick gives us a solid “When I Was Your Man” on stage that he dedicates to his mom, a big Bruno Mars fan. During his final round of critiques from the judges, Lionel tells him, “I went from not liking you to appreciating you. And you’re in our Top 20.” Luke says, “That’s a beautiful full-circle moment for you guys.”
Everyone’s a little on edge with Makayla, given that the teenager was about to perform during Hollywood Week but walked off stage and suffered a seizure. And although she pulled it together enough afterward to perform Kacey Musgraves’ “Rainbow” and make it to this round, her rearrangement of Ingrid Andress’ “More Hearts Than Mine” here in Hawaii is not so stellar. The judges inform Makayla that it’s her time to leave the show. Katy softens the blow just a little by saying, “And by the way, you are the strongest person here.” Thanks?
DeWayne Crocker Jr.
DeWayne’s song of choice is Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road.” He embodies his inner rock star when he struts out on stage with maximum confidence in a black cowboy hat. The performance is so good that Lionel springs up from his seat to dance. Before the Pensacola native walks away from the mic, he gives a slight tip of the hat toward the judges. “I think he just played us,” Katy says happily. “He knew his audience. He played us.” Needless to say, DeWayne makes the Top 20.
Camryn Leigh Smith
Sixteen-year-old Camryn loves her spiritual music. Sadly, her take on Tasha Cobbs Leonard’s “Break Every Chain” isn’t up to scratch. Lionel flat-out states that he didn’t connect with the performance at all. Katy tells the youngster that she likely has a solid career in singing worship songs, if she wants it. But for American Idol, the road ends for Camryn tonight.
The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away — which is something Devon Alexander, Jordan Jones and Geena also learn, as the three are cut during a montage. Jordan, at least, gave a solid turn with Childish Gambino’s “Redbone,” but Idol can be a tricky beast in these pre-live show weeks.
Moving right along, I feel for Louis, given that his best friend committed suicide a while back. But do we need to hear about it every single week in order to care about him as a contestant? At this point, the 19 year old’s talent alone is enough to carry him. Granted, he does have a shaky turn here in Hawaii with Ed Sheeran’s “Castle on the Hill.” Still, the judges let him through — but not without some tough love.
“We don’t like to bet on people, but we might have a side-bet going on,” Katy tells Louis. “The bet’s gettin’ shaky.” In the end, Katy warns him to get out of his head and let his heart guide him through the competition. Hopefully Louis heeds those words as he takes his place among the Top 20.
From Louis we inevitably go to his handsome former duet partner, who finally seems to have put his nerves in check. Francisco alludes to some “insecurities” that caused him to shut out his close friends and family for a stretch of time. We’re never told exactly what inner struggle the young gent was dealing with.
Instead, he hits the stage with a rainbow-colored guitar strap (hmmm?) and belts out Harry Styles’ “Falling” as a means of apology to those he feels he did wrong. Despite these personal issues, the judges — in particular, Luke — love the kid, and he’s on through to the Top 20.
Jovin has yet to stumble on this show. He continues his solid streak with Ray LaMontagne’s “You Are The Best Thing,” and Lionel tells the 29 year old afterward that he has the “instant identity” that is so often required to make it in the biz. And so off Jovin goes to the Top 20. He may fly under the radar, but he’s definitely a contender to keep an eye on.
We learn that Faith has been performing in a cover band since she was 10. Who knew? She decides to show the judges exactly who she is by singing Rufus and Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody.” While the judges don’t think it was her best turn, they love Faith’s personality enough to push her on through.
This poor thing. Despite her masterful audition with an Etta James song a few weeks back, the flame-haired Idaho native had a rough time during Hollywood Week. Furthermore, she fails to connect during her latest bout on stage, with Lake Street Drive’s “Good Kisser.” Amber tells the three judges she wouldn’t change a thing about her performance. But Luke informs her, “You kind of lost sight of the prize last night. It was a little unbridled.” It’s the end of teary-eyed Amber’s Idol story, and she’s absolutely heartbroken over it.
New York City subway singer Just Sam has never been one to wear a dress on this show, but she dons one for her performance of Selena’s “Como La Flor.” It makes for a stunning transformation that’s aided by a flower in Samantha’s hair and her carefree dancing on the stage — not to mention, she’s singing in another language. “My last name is Diaz, but I don’t know Spanish,” the powerhouse contestant admits to the judges. Katy tells Sam that she’s “the definition of elegance.” Lionel adds that he “couldn’t be more proud if you were my own child.” And away she goes to the Top 20.
Since his girlfriend Margie Mays got cut at the end of Hollywood Week, Jonny seems a bit lost. He admits he’s nervous, because Hawaii “is where Margie got cut last year.” Still, he knocks The Fray’s “You Found Me” out of the park. (Even The Fray must be envious.) Jonny is so impressive that Katy blurts out, “Oh my gosh — I get it, Margie! I get why you’re obsessed with him.” During her critique, Katy tells Jonny, “I think you’re a real serious artist,” as she warns him not to play the self-sabotage game. Jonny rightly earns his spot in the Top 20.
The evening ends with two-years-sober Dillon James, who is so humble he doesn’t want to compare himself to the other contestants (though he hopes to make the Top 20). The 26-year-old makes going on stage and singing Bob Dylan’s poignant classic “The Times They Are A-Changin’” look effortless. Annoyingly, we have to wait until next week to find out if Dillon will continue to rock out on Idol. Chances are he will, but you just never know, folks, now do you?