And then there were 40. Monday’s episode of American Idol wrapped Hollywood Week by revealing which singers are proceeding to the next round in Hawaii… and who is saying “aloha” to the competition for good. (“Aloha” doubles as a farewell greeting too, OK? Trust me, I Googled it.)
But before we get to the results, let’s break down some of the most memorable performances (for better or worse) from the Solo Round:
* Kimmy Gabriela and Just Sam both did Cynthia Erivo proud with their powerful, painful renditions of “I’m Here” from Broadway’s The Color Purple, but am I the only one disappointed that we didn’t get the full “And! I’m! HeeeEEEeeeEEEeeere!” at the end? (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click here and skip to 4:35. Your life will be better for it.)
* If anyone should be compared to Alejandro Aranda this season, it’s Arthur Gunn, who effortlessly rearranged his first audition song — Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” — for the Solo Round, a risk that paid off with a totally fresh, original-sounding take on a classic rock jam. And when I say he did it effortlessly, I mean he just made it look that way. Dude is crazy talented. Behold:
* Makayla Brownlee said she picked Kacey Musgraves’ “Rainbow” because “no matter what happens, there’s always going to be that rainbow.” This turned out to be the theme of her whole audition, which was cut short by a health scare before it even began. As Makayla later explained, she has a heart condition called vasovagal syncope, which can be triggered in high-stress situations. (And does it get more stressful than the final round of Hollywood Week?) When she finally recovered and returned to the stage, Makayla treated the judges to a soft rendition of “Rainbow” that had Katy Perry sobbing throughout.
* Speaking of sobbing, we also need to discuss Louis Knight‘s adorable mother, who bawled her way through his performance of Lewis Capaldi’s “Hold Me While You Wait.” (In other news, is Lewis Capaldi paying Idol for all this exposure? Unless I’m totally losing my mind, which is possible, I feel I’m hearing his songs more than any other artist’s this season.) Anyway, there was so much pain in this wonderful performance, which Louis dedicated to a friend who recently took his own life. I know the judges are pushing Louis on us a little hard, but he is good.
* Following a string of unimpressive original songs, Lauren Mascitti‘s “God Made a Woman” was more than just a breath of fresh air — it was like a fat baby angel descended from the heavens and exhaled directly in my face. This stunning ditty that “celebrates the beauty and the uniqueness of being a woman” was exactly that, beautiful and unique. And we apparently have Lauren’s bad-ass grandmother to thank for that. (I want to say that Nana feels like a grown-up version of a Pink Lady from Grease, but I also feel like she gives off T-Bird energy.) Watch:
* Other solid performances included Genavieve Linkowski‘s admittedly on-the-nose rendition of Shawn Mendes’ “In My Blood,” Jovin Webb‘s crowd-pleasing take on Chris Stapleton’s “Parachute,” Franklin Boone‘s authentic cover of Leon Bridges’ “River,” and Sophia Wackerman‘s jaw-dropping version of “Somewhere” from West Side Story.
* But this week wasn’t without its slip-ups, and I got no joy from watching so many good performers crack under pressure. Just look at Robert Taylor, whose decision to sing a low-energy original left the judges literally saying, “That was not good.” And then there was Nick Merico, whose confidence (and voice?) completely evaporated during his performance of Bryan Adams’ “Heaven.” I actually enjoyed Makayla Phillips‘ take on Lizzo’s “Cuz I Love You” more than the judges did, but hey, I’m not the one sending people through to Hawaii.
OK, it’s time for the results! Not all 40 singers were directly announced by name, so we’re still putting together our full list. For now, the following people (among several others) are packing their bags and heading to Hawaii:
Aliana Jester, Amber Fiedler, Amelia, Arthur Gunn, Bilaal Avaz, Cameron Havens, Camryn Leigh Smith, Cyniah Elise, Demi Rae, Devon Alexander, DeWayne Crocker Jr., Dillon James, Faith Becnel, Francisco Martin, Franklin Boone, Geena, Grace Leer, Grace Lundy, Jeb Vonderbruegge, Jonny West, Jordan Jones, Jovin Webb, Just Sam, Kimmy Gabriela, Lauren Mascitti, Lauren Spencer-Smith, Louis Knight, Makayla Brownlee, Makayla Phillips, Natalie Jane, Nick Merico, Olivia Ximenes, Perrin York, Robert Taylor, Shannon Gibbons, Sophia Wackerman and Travis Finlay
I can’t say there were any major surprises in the room that got eliminated this week, but if your heart didn’t break at least a little bit for Margie Mays, you’re an absolute monster. (Go Jonny!)
We’ll update this with an official list of the season’s Top 40 when it becomes available. In the meantime, did your favorites make it to Hawaii? Drop a comment with your thoughts on the episode, as well as any “safe” singers we missed from our list.