American Idol Recap: Top 11 Revealed! Did the Judges Use Their Save Wisely?

American Idol Top 10

The number of contestants still in the running to become the next American Idol can (almost) be counted with just two hands. Sunday’s episode, the show’s second at-home broadcast, narrowed down the Season 18 pack, eliminating nearly half of the remaining competitors. (There is one upside to performing remotely: No one was “sent home.” They were already there!)

The evening began with an emotional performance of “Home” by Season 11 winner Phillip Phillips, an on-the-nose introduction to an episode about — wait for it — home! Throughout the episode, Ryan Seacrest revealed which singers made the cut, followed by those contestants’ performances of songs that remind them of home. Read on for my thoughts on each of the Top 10(ish)’s performances:

LOUIS KNIGHT (Coldplay’s “In My Place”)
A perfect way to kick things off, Knight’s voice fit this emotional jam perfectly. I feel like, had One Direction covered this towards the end of its run, the result would have sounded something like this. (I know I keep making 1D comparisons with Knight, but let’s be real — in an alternate reality, he was definitely the group’s sixth member.) Music aside, who would honestly object to Idol putting this handsome, British accent-having, pizza-delivering hero into the Top 10? Show yourselves! Grade: A-
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JULIA GARGANO (“New York State of Mind”)
Billy Joel is a huge staple in the Gargano household, which led her to choose this timeless anthem as a tribute to the Big Apple’s battle against the coronavirus. The result was a stunning, smoky performance that had the Statue of Liberty herself nodding her head in full “yes, girl” agreement. “Holy cannoli,” indeed! This was really something. Grade: A+

JOVIN WEBB (Allen Stone’s “Voodoo”)
Given Webb’s ability to manipulate the audience with his chill, raspy vocals, he really couldn’t have picked a more appropriate song, which he dedicated to his home state of Louisiana. Not only did he knock this performance out of the park, but I should also note that he has one of my favorite home set-ups. Like Katy Perry noted, it’s like he transported us all to a bar in New Orleans. Grade: A
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GRACE LEER (“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz)
No stranger to winning America’s vote, one of the few remaining country artists in the competition celebrated her latest victory with a boisterous take on this iconic tune from The Wizard of Oz. It was certainly more Katharine McPhee than Judy Garland, and it successfully showed viewers a different side to her voice, but Lionel Richie was quick to caution her not to stray too far from the country roots that brought her this far. Grade: A-
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JONNY WEST (Journey’s “Faithfully”)
They judges might have eliminated Margie Mays, but considering the amount of screen time she’s getting — without having to leave the comfort of her own home, no less — I feel like she’s getting the last laugh. Anyway, what do I even say? West killed it once again, layering his performance with just enough emotion to draw you in without venturing into cheesy territory. Another effortless display. (That said, I’m not sure Perry should be comparing him to Alejandro Aranda just yet.) Grade: A

SOPHIA JAMES (The Beach Boys’ “In My Room”)
I was already excited about James’ song choice, and after hearing her performance, I think I’m just excited about her in general. She took a classic song and totally reinterpreted it, ultimately weaving an emotional story that was both stirring and vocally impressive. She made some really unique choices throughout, and I have so much respect for her as an artist. Grade: A
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ARTHUR GUNN (John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads”)
Denver met Bob Marley in this brilliant, reggae-inspired rendition of a country classic. Even more admirable than Gunn’s abilities is his humble spirit. He just seems so happy be there, almost unaware of how good he really is. Grade: A

JUST SAM (Bill Withers’ “Grandma’s Hands”)
With just two suitcases and a Bible at her disposal, Just Sam is easily the purest contestant in the competition. Because she’s socially distancing from her grandmother, paid tribute to her biggest fan from a distance, delivering a powerful performance of an already emotional song. Grade: A-
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DILLON JAMES (The Beatles’ “Yesterday”)
Maybe it was just that big ol’ American flag behind James, but there was something oddly uplifting about this downer of a jam. As always, the certifiable ’90s heartthrob’s vocals came through clearly and beautifully — but as the judges pointed out, he stayed a little too inside the lines this week. Grade: A-
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FRANCISCO MARTIN (James Arthur’s “Falling Like the Stars”)
Though I was hoping to hear Makayla Phillips’ name called, I can’t say I was the least bit surprised — or disappointed — that Martin snagged the final spot in the Top 10. And it was the perfect performance to the end night. Powerful, emotional, authentic. What’s not to enjoy? Grade: A

But wait! In a somewhat surprising twist (come on, there were still 10 minutes left!), the judges decided to use their one-and-only save on Makayla Phillips.

MAKAYLA PHILLIPS (Miranda Lambert’s “The House That Built Me”)
If anyone doubted that Phillips deserved the coveted Judges’ Save, this captivating performance — a notable departure from her previous pop-heavy selections — surely changed their mind. This absolutely could have been a recording. All hail. Grade: A+

OK, now that we’ve established which singers made it to the Top 10, let’s take a moment to acknowledge those whose Idol journey ended this week: Aliana Jester, Cyniah Elise, DeWayne Crocker, Jr., Faith Becnel, Franklin Boone, Kimmy Gabriela, Lauren Spencer-Smith, Nick Merico and Olivia Ximines.

Did your favorite singers make it to American Idol‘s Top 10… er, 11? Vote in our polls below to predict how the remaining contestants will fare, then drop a comment with your thoughts on tonight’s results.

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