Sunday’s special Mother’s Day edition of American Idol definitely lived up to its name, as two fan-favorite singers were dealt a mother of a blow. Plus, the Top 7 performed songs by Coldplay — the unofficial band of mothers everywhere!
As always, let’s begin with the results. Once America’s votes were tallied, Arthur Gunn and Hunter Metts were banished to obscurity. That leaves Casey Bishop, Chayce Beckham, Willie Spence, Caleb Kennedy and Grace Kinstler as the season’s Top 5.
Read on for a breakdown of tonight’s performances, which included Coldplay songs and tributes to the contestants’ mothers, with official video to be added when it becomes available:
CASEY BISHOP, 16 | One of the youngest singers left in the competition kicked things off with “Paradise,” delivering the laid-back Coldplay jam with all the natural ease we’ve come to expect from the pint-sized powerhouse. It may not have been the world’s best song choice, but the notes were there — and the hair was definitely there. Watch:
She followed this up with Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic,” which felt like the perfect song choice… at least on paper. Don’t get me wrong, I’d still lay down in front of a speeding school bus for Bishop, but this performance veered into karaoke territory a little too much for my taste. She totally redeemed herself at the end, but even the best are bound to fumble every once in a while. Click here to watch.
CHAYCE BECKHAM, 24 | The judges praised Beckham’s supposed artistry, especially the big vocal moments he effortlessly worked into his performance of “Magic,” but I thought it was just fine. Frankly, I have much more to say about Beckham’s hair (did you know that the single strand of hair in front is called a “slut bang”?!) than I do about the snoozy song. Click here to watch.
But if you think I’m going to have even a single negative word to say about “Mama,” the touching song Beckham wrote for his mother, you’ve got another thing coming. The judges have talked a lot about the “artistry” Beckham has been showing, but I didn’t really feel it until this performance. Click here to watch.
WILLIE SPENCE, 21 | Don’t mind me, I’m just cutting onions over here! The first contestant of the night to make a Coldplay song sound like a true original, Spence filled the Idol studio with his signature soulful sound; I’ve heard “Yellow” about a million times, but never like this. Watch:
On the flip side, Spence’s mom-dedicated performance of Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful” was exactly how I’d want to hear it. Was I expecting it to crescendo into a full-blown gospel banger? Absolutely not. But to that, I say amen. Click here to watch.
CALEB KENNEDY, 16 | I’m not the biggest fan of Kennedy, nor am I a huge Coldplay fan, so I went into this performance of “Violet Hill” with low expectations — and they were definitely met. The performance was a snooze, pure and simple. Luke Bryan’s assertion that Kennedy looked like he was about to “overthrow the galaxy of music” could not have been less accurate… or more confusing. Click here to watch.
Kennedy later returned to the stage with an original song for his mom, appropriately titled “Mama Said.” And while I’ve been hard on him in recent weeks — even earlier in this very recap — there’s no denying his abilities as a songwriter.
ARTHUR GUNN, 23 | You can tell me that Gunn performed “In My Place” as his first song this week, but I don’t have to believe you. Even Martin was baffled by how much Gunn switched up the group’s iconic jam. (“I always thought the melody was the best bit,” he admitted after hearing Gunn’s radically different version.) The end result, I thought, was pretty cool. Watch:
Color me shocked that Gunn chose to perform another classic rock song, in this case Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man.” No, I kid. The song choice was as heartfelt as the performance itself, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t swoon a little bit when he dedicated it to “all the sweet mothers out there.” Even if you’re still bitter about the twist that led to Gunn’s return, it’s damn near impossible not to like him.
GRACE KINSTLER, 20 | Known for melting our faces off with her bombastic belt, Kinstler opted for a more subdued vibe this week, inviting the viewers in for an intimate performance of “Fix You.” Even the climax wasn’t as extreme as you’d expect from Kinstler, which only proved how multifaceted a singer she really is. My only question: What was that piano doing during the first half of this performance? Did they think she was doing Frozen again? Watch:
Kinstler kept the emotions flowing with her second performance, “When We Were Young.” Looking like a million bucks and sounding even better, she crushed the Adele ballad without breaking a sweat. And those notes she belted at the end! What can I even say about this voice that hasn’t already been said? Click here to watch.
HUNTER METTS, 22 | Did anyone else feel like they were watching Baby Chris Martin up on that stage tonight? “Everglow” is another Coldplay song I’m not super familiar with, so having it introduced to me via Metts’ angelic vocals and warm demeanor was an ideal scenario. Click here to watch.
In true charming fashion, Metts returned to the stage with “The River,” an original song which showcased all that he has to offer. The notes weren’t always there (blame it on the emotions!), but the love was always present. Watch:
Your thoughts on this week’s performances and eliminations? Drop ’em in a comment below.