Well, America, we’re almost there. After Monday’s episode, only two more hours of Idol auditions remain this season.
Was the show’s next big winner among Monday’s latest crop of hopefuls? Let’s break down the successful auditions and place our bets:
TOBIAS, 26 | This church choir director and high school music teacher tickled both the ivories and my fancy with his pleasing performance of Donell Jones’ “Knocks Me Off My Feet.” Was it perfect? No. But it felt real and authentic, like we dropped in on Tobias’ classroom — or his chapel — and just listened to him doing what he does best. (Those runs!) The judges can’t figure out why he isn’t a star yet, and neither can I.
MORGAN GRUBER, 17 | The judges also loved this teen’s emotional performance of Elle King’s “Can’t Be Loved,” which she dedicated to her late grandmother. Gruber took the judges aboard a rollercoaster of vocal trickery, eliciting “mmm”s of approval from both Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan throughout. The song itself was done beautifully, but my favorite part was how it felt like Gruber didn’t even notice that the judges were there. (But it’s a good thing they were, otherwise Katy Perry couldn’t have written “Top 20” in her notes.) Click here to watch.
KAYLIN ROBERSON, 23 | Couples are always risky business on Idol, so when Roberson said that she’d be auditioning with her boyfriend, fellow 23-year-old Matt Gorman, I was preemptively ready to feel bad for one of them. Their original country ballad about short-lived romances (“Damn, that was a fast forever…”) was an excellent showcase for their polar-opposite voices, which complement one another beautifully. Unfortunately, it was only Roberson’s voice that the judges wanted to hear in Hollywood, forcing the duo to part ways… for now. Watch:
SAYLOR, 18 | One girl, one song, one ludicrously large set of fake eyelashes. My expectations weren’t through the roof for this one, so when Saylor cracked twice during her performance of Kodaline’s “All I Want” — nearly stopping both times — I wasn’t entirely surprised. What did surprise me was the judges’ decision to send her through. It’s beautiful that she dedicated it to her father, and I’m glad that the judges could relate to her emotions, but I’m still surprised they sent her through. It kept coming back to one thing: As Perry said it, “You do got a voice on you.” Click here to watch.
CAMERON WHITCOMB, 18 | The judges didn’t know what to make of this handsome young Canadian, what with his subtle accent and not-so-subtle backflips. So they sat and let him sing — and he was pretty good, eh? He didn’t blow the roof of the place, but his delivery of Joan Baez’s “Rock Salt and Nails” was undoubtedly charming. With no performance experience or vocal training, what you get from Whitcomb is 100-percent pure Whitcomb. Richie isn’t sure that the professional pipeliner is ready yet, but Perry and Bryan want to see more. Click here to watch.
EMYRSON FLORA, 16 | There was nothing funny about this teen’s incredible take on Brandi Carlile’s “The Joke,” killing the song with a voice well beyond her years. Despite her nerves, the judges saw Flora’s raw talent shine through, prompting all three to roll their dice on her. Click here to watch.
SIR BLAYKE, 28 | Life hasn’t always been easy for this Los Angeles songwriter, who found himself without a home while interning at a music studio in Atlanta. But all that hardship has also hardened his resolve, and he poured every last drop of his emotions into his performance of Ed Sheeran’s “Dive.” The judges were torn, but Blayke promised that he’s a quick study, prompting Perry and Richie to give him the yeses he needed to get to Hollywood. Click here to watch.
CARLY MICKEAL, 23 | The judges threw this California dog groomer a bone for her strong take on Elton John’s “Your Song,” which her dad accompanied on piano. The trio sees major star potential in Mickeal, if only she can learn to let go and give into the emotion of the performance. Click here to watch.
JAY COPELAND, 23 | Having recently dropped out of grad school, Copeland wasn’t sure if it was wise to choose music over acting — but after doing that to Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered,” I’m pretty sure he has his answer. Those runs! And right out of the gate like that? Unheard of. I needed this to wake me up, truly. And the judges clearly felt the same way, because they didn’t even bother giving him a golden ticket. They went straight to platinum. Watch:
SKYLER MAXEY-WERT, 25 | The final audition of the night (and of the season!) went to this professional ballerina dancer, who was encouraged to try his luck at Idol by none other than Incubus frontman Brandon Boyd. And it was good advice, because this unique soul blew the judges away with his performance of Donny Hathaway’s “For All We Know.” They ate up each extended note, encouraging him to find a way to work dance into his performances moving forward. Color me intrigued.
Who were your favorite singers from Idol‘s latest round of Season 20 auditions? Cast your votes below, then drop a comment with your thoughts.