The first performer to take the stage on American Idol tonight gets a standing ovation from judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban, and Harry Connick Jr. But it isn’t one of the season 14 contestants who lights up the Fillmore in Detroit. It’s the living legend Aretha Franklin, singing “I Will Survive.” Franklin advised the contestants this week, as they all take the stage with Motown songs for their chance to advance in the competition.
Ryan Seacrest reveals who survived last week’s voting as the episode progresses. The first singer through to the top eight boys is Daniel Seavey, who sings “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” by Marvin Gaye. Connick tells him he needs to connect more with the band, but Lopez notes how much more relaxed he looks this week. Overall, it’s a solid performance to get things started.
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Also looking a lot looser on stage, Mark Andrew jams out to “Papa Was A Rollin Stone” by The Temptations. Lopez doesn’t like the song choice, but all three judges have plenty of positive things to say about his voice.
Also through is Rayvon Owen, who sings a smooth rendition of “My Girl” by The Temptations. He hits a great run at the end that shows off his range, and the judges love it, but they all hope to see a bit of a harsher side of Owen if he continues on in the competition.
Adam Ezegelian steps outside of his usual genre this week and tries to bring his harder gravely sound to “I Want You Back” by Jackson 5. The judges are impressed by the arrangement, but will it be enough to carry him through to the top 12?
One of this season’s mentors, Scott Borchetta, gives the next contestant his stamp of approval. Clark Beckham accompanies himself on the electric guitar as he sings “The Tracks of My Tears” by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles. It’s not quite as memorable as Adam Lambert’s performance of the same song back in season eight. But as Borchetta points out, Beckham has one of the best voices in the competition. He just needs to loosen up on stage a bit more, as Lopez advises.
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Nick Fradiani is the next guy in the top eight, singing “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours)” by Stevie Wonder. Connick loves the performance, but Urban wishes Fradiani had ditched the guitar.
Taking the second to last spot in the top 8, Qaasim Middleton sings Wonder’s “I Wish.” Middleton’s showmanship shines in the performance. “You own that stage,” Lopez says. Connick goes so far as to say Middleton is exactly what they’re looking for. With one of the best performances for the second week in a row, he seems destined for the top 12.
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Snagging the very last top eight spot, Quentin Alexander sings Wonder’s “Master Blaster.” He also gives one of the best performances of the night, proving how worthy he is of making the cut.
That means it’s the end of the road for Trevor Douglas, Riley Bria, Michael Simeon, and Savion Wright. Even though they’re all talented singers, none of these eliminations are particularly surprising. Who will you be voting to see in the top 12?
This article originally appeared in THR.com.