Sunday’s American Idol found this season’s Top 5 tackling the hits of Carrie Underwood, while also paying tribute to the women that got them this far.
But before we break down this week’s performances, let’s dim the proverbial lights and find out who’s moving on to the two-night finale. After more than 20 million votes, your Top 3 are: Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Gabby Barrett and Maddie Poppe.
That means we had to say goodbye to Cade Foehner (I’m shocked, but not disappointed) and Michael J. Woodard, who will remain forever in my heart. Bless that man.
OK, time to dissect these performances…
MICHAEL J. WOODARD (Carrie Underwood’s “Flat on the Floor”)
People may not “expect” Woodard to be able to sing country, but at this point, I think we’ve all learned not to underestimate him. I couldn’t help but grin like a damn fool as he stomped around that stage with a confident swagger I never would have imagined just a few weeks ago. It wasn’t the most exciting song choice, but he nailed it. And he looked like he was having a blast up there.
GABBY BARRETT (Carrie Underwood’s “Last Name”)
The Pittsburgh, Pa., native has always been a mini Carrie Underwood in my eyes, so I was hardly surprised to see her slay this “Last Name.” I might not go so far as to call her “Carrie Underwood reincarnated,” but it was definitely like watching a less-polished version of the one-time Idol winner.
CADE FOEHNER (Carrie Underwood’s “Undo It”)
I don’t have too much to say about this performance, which was pretty standard fare for Foehner. It was enjoyable, energetic and technically solid, but I wouldn’t call it memorable — and I’m glad the judges called him out for giving us the same old thing, rather than daring to break out of his comfort zone. At this point, “safe” isn’t the worst thing a person can be, but he’ll need to step up his game if he makes it through to the finale.
CALEB LEE HUTCHINSON (Carrie Underwood’s “So Small”)
Even when Hutchinson is giving a boring performance — which is exactly what he did here — it’s impossible to deny that his vocal chords have been kissed by sweet baby angels. But like Perry said, he’s got to start flapping those wings harder if he wants to rise above the competition.
MADDIE POPPE (Carrie Underwood’s “I Told You So”)
This wasn’t my favorite of Poppe’s performance so far, but I attribute that more to song choice than vocal ability. I’m just glad she nailed the note she thought she might fskskds.
GABBY BARRETT (Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing”)
Finally! As enjoyable as the performances had been up to this point, I was waiting for someone to really bring it… and that person was apparently Barrett, who crushed this iconic Houston ballad dedicated to her mom. She looked beautiful and sounded even better.
CADE FOEHNER (Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man”)
Foehner has always felt like a traveler from a different era, so this 1973 jam was a perfect choice for him. Emotional, powerful, solid. He really is a force of nature.
MICHAEL J. WOODARD (Yolanda Adams’ “Still I Rise”)
First of all, I didn’t think I could love Woodard any more… and then I watched him interact with his mom. (My heart!) As for the performance, he sang that thing. Not only was it the perfect choice to honor his mother, but it was also the perfect choice to show off his full range of talents. This kid is a star.
CALEB LEE HUTCHINSON (Jamey Johnson’s “Stars in Alabama”)
MADDIE POPPE (The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows”)
I love Poppe. And I love this song. So color me shocked that the two didn’t quite mesh as well as I assumed they would. It was fine, but it didn’t blow me away. She was clearly overcome with emotion, so I’ll forgive her for the imperfect performance — though I’m not sure America is as understanding.
Your thoughts on this week’s eliminations? Vote for your favorite performance below (you can pick up to three), then drop a comment with your predictions for next week’s finale.