American Idol Ends Hollywood Week With Another Shocking Dropout

Lionel Richie really did put it best at the end of Monday’s American Idol: “That f–ked me up. I can’t take this.”

The judge was referring to the final duet of Hollywood Week, which was supposed to be a performance of Adam Lambert’s “Whataya Want From Me” between Kaya Stewart and Fire. The catch? Duets require two voices, and only one came to the stage prepared to sing.

“During this performance, I got to work with Fire, which was such a great experience,” Stewart announced to the judges after explaining that she’s been getting progressively sicker all week. “She’s so talented and so incredible, and we bonded so much. But I realized that I wasn’t able to give 100 percent, so I’ve decided to not perform.” When Katy Perry asked if that means Stewart’s Idol journey is over, she confirmed, “Yes. Me not performing today means I’m no longer going to be in the competition.”

Rather than letting Fire sing alone, the judges tossed their rod into the sea of other contestants, asking if anyone might be willing to join her on stage. Jayna Elise took the bait, doing the best she could with seemingly no practice whatsoever. Considering Elise’s group performed Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing,” it really speaks to Elise’s flexibility and versatility that she was able to rescue Fire with a completely different song at a moment’s notice.

Was it a flawless performance? Absolutely not. But it had its moments, and Fire is being packaged as this season’s ingenue, so come on — did you really think she wouldn’t make it through?

And to think this all occurred just 24 hours after Sarah Beth suddenly dropped out of the competition, choosing to return home with her three young children.

Read on for a breakdown of the duos (plus one trio!) sent through to next week’s Showstopper round…

American Idol Elijah McCormick Lucy Love* The first team-up of the night, Elijah McCormick and Lucy Love, was just as magical as you’d expect it to be. This jazzy arrangement of The Temptations’ “My Girl” gave both singers ample opportunities to showcase their individual talents, while also letting their voices come together in a beautiful blend. It was simple, it was strong, it was… sexy? Click here to watch.

* Matt Wilson‘s smooth, R&B-friendly vocals blended surprisingly well with Elise Kristine‘s more folksy tone, resulting in a good — but not perfect — performance of Calum Scott’s “You Are the One,” which was impressive both in its powerful and softer moments. Click here to watch.

* The chemistry between Hannah Nicolaisen and Warren Peay was both instant and undeniable during their take on Tim McGraw’s “It’s Your Love.” Watching these two genuine artists come together was like witnessing the rebirth of a classic country duo, and I look forward to more. Watch:

* Pity and sympathy can get you far on American Idol — just ask Zachariah Smith and Isaac Brown (aka the “Body Roll Boys”), who tried to perform Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing” with their faces glued to their phones because they didn’t learn the lyrics. Perry told them to put the phones and away and trust themselves, which was terrible advice, because it basically just left them floundering up there. The judges loved the duo’s made-up lyrics, and I’ll even admit that Smith’s voice sounded fantastic in certain moments, but I’m stunned that both of these guys made it through. Less is more, especially when it comes to cheesy choreography. Click here to watch, if you dare.

American Idol Tyson Venegas Kaylin Hedges* Expectations were high (perhaps too high?) for Tyson Venegas and Kaylin Hedges, two Platinum Ticket winners who teamed up to perform Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now.” It was good. It was also a lot. Like, they definitely didn’t both need to start at an 11 out of 10. But I can’t hate on some of those notes they nailed. And I won’t bother criticizing Venegas for forgetting the lyrics — that was such a common occurrence this week, it felt like a requirement. Click here to watch.

* Iam Tongi was easily one of the night’s most highly anticipated performers, but his big moment took an unfortunate turn when the guitar gifted to him by his late father suddenly broke. He received a new guitar for his performance, with the judges’ promise that the Idol team could fix Tongi’s own, but his confidence was clearly shaken. Fortunately, he powered through his emotions for a pretty good performance of The Weeknd’s “Save Your Tears” with Oliver Steele. It’s not a song I would have chosen for either of them, let alone as a duet, but it was good enough to keep them in the game. Watch:

* Remember that trio I alluded to earlier? Well, Idol ended up with an odd number of singers this week (thanks, Sarah Beth!), so poor Adin Boyer was left without a partner. Fortunately, Summer Joy and Jayna Elise — yes, the same Jayna Elise who sang with Fire in her hour of need — were more than happy to make their duo a trio. Did it sound like three completely different versions of “I’m Still Standing” being sung at the same time? A little bit! But when those harmonies were tight, they were tight, and I appreciated that each singer got a chance to show off what they’ve got. Perry calling them “the holy trinity,” however, is a major stretch. Click here to watch.

* I appreciated that Wé Ani and PJAE‘s decision to embrace the storytelling aspect of Blu Cantrell’s “Hit ‘Em Up Style,” but I actually think they leaned into it a little too hard, as the chaotic energy occasionally overpowered their otherwise solid vocals. Still, when Ani started scatting, the deal was sealed for me. That was a moment. Watch:

* This next one was incredibly frustrating to watch: J Valerione was over the moon when Cam Amen chose them as his partner, but the pressure of the competition quickly got to them, and they basically ghosted Amen before the night was over. Amen was left to prepare for a solo performance, but his plans changed once again when Valerione suddenly reappeared the next morning. Despite having almost no time left to rehearse, Amen agreed to sing with Valerione, an act of mercy for which Amen deserves sainthood. The end result was… not great. I didn’t even know they were singing The Doobie Brothers’ “Listen to the Music” until they got to the chorus. Still, they were both sent through — and I can’t be mad about that.

Unfortunately, not everyone’s Idol story got a happy ending this on Monday night. Carina Deangelo was sent home, despite duet partner Nutso going through. It was also the end of the road for Jon Wayne Hatfield, whose duet with Preston Duffee was good (click here to watch) but also illuminated that they’re basically a copy-paste of the same person. We will, however, be seeing more of Duffee.

OK, how are we feeling with Hollywood Week at last behind us? Which singers are starting to grow on you? And what did you think of tonight’s biggest moments, including Stewart’s self-elimination? Let it all out in a comment below.

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