Sunday was another huge night for American Idol, which ended the journey of three more deserving finalists — and only one of the regular judges was there to say goodbye!
With Katy Perry and Lionel Richie across the pond attending King Charles’ coronation, Luke Bryan was left with two empty seats next to him on the judges’ panel. Fortunately, Alanis Morrissette — who was already serving as this week’s guest mentor — was more than happy to fill in, with Ed Sheeran stepping up to complete the panel.
Before revealing which singers America voted into their Top 5, Idol welcomed back this season’s Top 8 — Colin Stough, Haven Madison, Iam Tongi, Megan Danielle, Oliver Steele, Warren Peay, Wé Ani and Zachariah Smith — for two performances each. In addition to each contestant covering a track from Morissette’s iconic songbook, the eight finalists also paired up for duets of hits from Sheeran’s catalogue.
Read on to see how the finalists fared this week, including which five will return next Sunday (ABC, 8/7c) for Disney Week, where they’ll be mentored by Oscar nominee Sofia Carson. Oh, and did I mention that Halle Bailey will be taking the stage for a performance of “Part of Your World” from Disney’s upcoming live-action Little Mermaid movie? It’s going to be a big night.
Anyway, find out who’s moving ahead to the Top 5, then cast your vote in our poll and drop a comment with your full review of Sunday’s Morissette/Sheeran extravaganza.
ELIMINATED: Warren Peay
Peay kicked off the night with “All I Really Want,” a somewhat lesser-known Morissette jam that will hopefully have a few new fans thanks to the country crooner’s reimagined take. The songwriter herself was blown away, admitting that she never imagined she would hear this version of her song, adding that it was “beautiful.”
He returned to the stage less than 30 minutes later, joined by Ani for a wonderfully unexpected duet of Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.” As far as vibes go this season, you couldn’t ask for a bigger difference — but hey, two great voices and two great voices.
SAFE: Zachariah Smith
This season’s resident (former) burger flipper picked a much more popular Morrissette song, delivering a high-energy performance of “Ironic,” albeit one without much of Smith’s trademark moves. His rock-friendly voice complimented the anthem perfectly… don’t you think?
He kept the hits coming with a stunning duet of Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” which the singer recognized as “soulful” and better than he could have performed it himself. It felt natural and right and just good. Bryan isn’t the only one with smile cramps after that.
ELIMINATED: Oliver Steele
As previously mentioned, Steele’s first performance this week was his duet of Sheeran’s “Photograph” with Tongi, and even the artist himself had to recognize how special it was to hear these two completely different voices coming together in harmony. Morissette also tipped her hat to the idea of men allowing themselves to be vulnerable, another thing these two never fail to do.
Steele’s solo performance of Morissette’s “You Oughta Know” was held until the very end of the night — which was only fitting, considering he was the one Perry saved from being eliminated last week. This might be the most iconic track on Jagged Little Pill, regardless of whether it is or isn’t about a certain Full House cast member, and Steele definitely did it justice. He prefaced this performance by saying he wanted to prove his haters wrong and “wake people up,” and that’s exactly what he did.
SAFE: Iam Tongi
The first Sheeran duet of the night came courtesy of Tongi and Oliver Steele, who joined together for a low-key cover of “Photograph.” Their voices blended nicely, and their harmonies were tight, but Tongi clearly had the audience on his side.
For his Morissette number, Tongi selected “Guardian,” a song that reminds him of his mom — which is somewhat ironic (teehee), as Morissette originally wrote it about her son from her own perspective. Like so many of Tongi’s previous performances, this was just a delight. Simple, sweet and emotional, it hit all the right notes, both literal and metaphorical. Morissette put it perfectly when she praised Tongi for his empathy, which regularly shines through in his presentation and his personality.
ELIMINATED: Haven Madison
She may be the youngest singer currently in the competition, but there was nothing juvenile about Madison’s gorgeous, soaring, attitude-heavy presentation of “You Learn.” Even Bryan was taken aback by how much full voice Madison opted for, rather than falling back on her falsetto. Sheeran really put it best: “Vocally, it was just nuts.”
Madison returned with Smith for an absolutely ear-pleasing performance of “Thinking Out Loud,” a song we heard multiple times this week — but never this good.
SAFE: Wé Ani
Ani’s first performance this week was a duet with Peay of Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” one that absolutely floored the man himself. “I’m just happy to be here,” he said. “Thanks for doing it.” The duet was especially a showcase for Ani, who cemented her place as one of the most unique, wide-ranging performers left in the competition.
She further proved herself with a haunting, powerful performance of Morissette’s “Uninvited.” Was it a little prettier than I expected the song to be? Sure, but that didn’t make it bad. And I couldn’t hate on any of that growly energy she saved for the end.
SAFE: Colin Stough
Remember a few weeks ago when Stough took Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own” and completely made it his own? Well, this season’s best head of hair worked his magic once again on Morrissette’s “Hand in My Pocket,” giving us the country version we never knew we needed.
Unsurprisingly, Stough and Danielle’s team-up on “Dive” was arguably the best duet of the night. Their crystal-clear country voices fit together like puzzle pieces, resulting in a poised, polished, professional performance all around.
SAFE: Megan Danielle
Danielle dedicate her long-awaited first performance (of Morissette’s “Head Over Feet”) to her boyfriend, who sees the best in her even when she doesn’t see it in herself. This was another instance where Morissette got a much more countrified version of her song than she ever expected to hear, but we loved every second of it. Sheeran hit the nail on the head when he said he felt like he was watching “a classic singer from the ’60s.” Danielle’s vibe is truly timeless.
And as I mentioned earlier, Danielle couldn’t have asked for a better duet partner than Stough on Sheeran’s “Dive,” which also left him in awe. Their “joyful noise” (thank you, Morissette) was exactly that — a joy to listen to.
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