American Idol did not *ahem* go easy on viewers during the first half of this season’s Final Judgment on Sunday, ending on yet another cliffhanger.
With 11 contestants already sent through to the Top 24 ahead of them, Paige Anne and Megan Danielle were called before the judges to learn their fates. But even after their Showstopper performances — Anne managed to slay Sia’s “California Dreamin'” from the safety of her hotel room, while Danielle wowed with a countrified take on Lady Gaga’s “Always Remember Us This Way” — the judges still couldn’t decide between them.
Cue the sing-off! Both fan favorites were asked to perform Adele’s “Easy on Me,” but for the sake of keeping us hooked, only Anne’s side of the battle was shown on Sunday. Without having heard Danielle’s take, she’s certainly got her work cut out for her; Anne came out swinging, delivering a gorgeous, pop-perfect performance, elevated by some really interesting vocal choices that raised an eyebrow or two.
While we wait for Danielle’s turn on Monday’s conclusion to the Final Judgment, here’s a breakdown of the 11 singers confirmed in the Top 24 after Sunday’s episode:
* She may not be an Idol yet, but after that killer performance of Bishop Briggs’ “River,” Kaeyra is already a rock star, a growler of Haley Reinhart proportions.
* One of the night’s biggest no-brainers, Warren Peay once again took to the stage like a seasoned country legend, nailing Allman Brothers Band’s “Whipping Post” even without his trusty guitar by his side. The judges pegged Peay as a Top 10 contender after his audition, and with that laid-back energy and powerhouse vocals, he’s proving them right.
* Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” was an extremely Nutsa song choice, and to navigate that tricky number while delivering choreography to match the energy is no easy feat. But Nutsa was totally in her element, feeding off the energy of the crowd very well. She also earned Katy Perry’s first insane fake-out: “We did not put you in the Top 24… you put yourself in the Top 24.”
* Perry’s next over-the-top trick was done to Michael Williams, another Top 10 prediction, who brought his perfect hair and golden falsetto to a strong performance of Miley Cyrus’ “Angels Like You.” Perry, who famously fawned over Williams during his audition, now told him, “When you love something, you have to let it go. And we have to let you go… into the Top 24.”
* The night’s other sing-off was between PJAE, who delivered a strong, sultry performance of Luke James’ “I Want You,” and Malik Heard, who had everyone vibing along to Tevin Campbell’s “Can We Talk” with his effortless confidence. Uncertain of which singer to send through, the judges had the two friends return with Billie Eilish’s “Everything I Wanted,” and they both delivered big-time. Heard’s version felt like classic R&B with beautiful runs and all manner of vocal trickery, while PJAE gave it more of a dramatic, theatrical feel. Plot twist: Rather than choosing between them, the judges sent both PJAE and Heard through!
* Did anyone else get major Jennifer Hudson vibes from Wé Ani during her roof-blowing performance of Aretha Franklin’s “Ain’t No Way”? From her booming belts, to her stunning whistle tone, Ani is easily one of the most gifted singers left in the competition. Don’t sleep on this one.
* That sound you’re hearing is the collective cry of all the burgers who will never have the pleasure of being flipped by Zachariah Smith. I couldn’t even hate on the cheesy moves he peppered into Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now,” because his whole schtick feels so genuine. Not to mention his vocals are absolutely insane. I think I might love him. Do I want to love him? That question is irrelevant, for I do not have a choice. I’ve been pulled into Smith’s vortex of charisma, and I am helpless to resist.
* I’m actually annoyed at how the judges tried to trick the audience by making it seem like Tyson Venegas bombed his Showstopper performance. Sure, he forgot a few lines in Lizzo’s “Cuz I Love You,” but even his filler mumbling was spot-on. The guy’s got a killer voice, and no one doubted he would end up here. “We don’t think you are destined for the Top 24,” Perry told him. “More like the Top 10!” At least she admitted that this fake-out was a bit of a stretch.
* The judges enjoyed Haven Madison‘s performance of Sia’s “Bird Set Free,” a song she chose because she wishes she had written it herself, but they advised the teen scribe to trust her instincts and give them more of her original music.
* First of all, Ruben Studdard’s “Flying Without Wings” was an A+ song choice for someone like Lucy Love, who’s never been afraid to let her emotions flow freely on stage. It was the perfect showcase for her voice, building to a big finish that’ll stay with us all week.
Unfortunately, three fan favorites reached the end of their Idol journeys this week: Adin Boyer, who was told that he still has a future in the music industry as a songwriter; Kaylin Hedges, who at least deserves some credit for choosing an underrated ballad like Seal’s “Kissed by a Rose”; and Fire, who finally shed the burden of her backstory this week for a performance that felt free and genuine — even if it didn’t get her into the Top 24.
OK, let’s talk: Are you surprised by any of the singers who made it into the Top 24? And were any of the three eliminated contestants done dirty by the judges? Drop a comment with your thought on Sunday’s episode below.
Not a fan of Michael Williams at all, too Disney Prince for me – 🤮. Happy Nutsa, Kaeyra, and We made it and I can’t hate Zach at all, he has so much fun up there.
We, Kaeyra, Lucy, and Warren were big standouts!
However, I did enjoy Nutsa and Tyson as well
I think I might be the only one who doesn’t care for Nutsa. I don’t know what it is but I just don’t like how she performs…it’s almost too over the top for me.
I wish Zachariah had picked a different song. I am so sick of hearing that one from Queen.
I LOVE Warren!!! He is awesome. And We Ani….oooh, she gives me chills!
Fire’s showstopper performance was just okay, which is probably why she didn’t make the top 24.
Otherwise, I think so far the judges have made wise choices.
No, you’re not the only one~ I’m with you on Nutsa. Whether she’s singing or talking, I feel that she’s just performing, and not relating.
I am not a Nutsa fan either. She doesn’t feel authentic to me. Warren is crazy talented. The Fire situation was gimmicky. AI likes to exploit hardship for ratings and broke rules by giving her another audition in another city. Like they were going to then turn her away? I think not. Although determined, unfortunately she just did not measure up to the competition.
I don’t care for Nutsa either. And the way she acted over being called out by her duet partner rubbed me the wrong way. She let their team down by just going to bed and I would have cut her. It only gets harder from here. Plus, her voice isn’t all that imo, there is just something about it I dislike but not sure what it is either. All I know for sure is she won’t get my vote.
Regarding Nutsa part of the business is working with others. The way she bailed on her partner during duets week just shows me she’s only about herself and that will only get worse the farther she goes in the business not just Idol. Yes American Idol is an individual competition but if you can’t work with others in groups or duets how will you be once your on your own after Idol. I have no interest in her no matter how well she performs.
Interesting choices…I might not have kept Nutsa or Lucy; both are over-the-top for me, & I didn’t “love”Lucy’s song choice. I’m on the fence w/Michael & Haven. Didn’t love Haven’s song or vocals, & I agree with “No real surprises” above- Michael does seem a bit “Disney Prince”-like. lol.
Zachariah is too much for me, too, but I like watching him ‘cuz he’s like an enigma – gimmicky, yet serious. Extra-hyper, yet relatable. And he has a great voice.
I like both Paige & Megan, but if only one makes it, I hope it’s Megan. Love her style!
For tomorrow, I’m fully expecting (wanting) these folks to get through: Iam, Oliver, Olivia, Emma, Hannah, Mary Jane and the Noah-Thompson doppelgänger who’s probably gonna win (sorry, can’t remember his name. ha).
Oops, I meant “Mary Beth”, not “Mary Jane”. Good grief, lol. And I hope Elijah makes it, too. But I’d almost forgotten about him; that might not be a good sign, ha.
Nusta hands down is the clear favorite to win this thing.
Neither Pjae nor Malik deserved to go thru, but hey, we have to have some filler contestants. I agree with the three that were cut. I just wish AI hadn’t spent so much time on Fire. Good thing I have FF. I like Nutsa better than some, apparently. Nothing wrong with being driven, and something that Americans don’t realize is that foreigners tend to be more blunt in their language. Something I learned from living in Europe for awhile. A lot of excellent singers, but We continues to be my favorite.
The only one that really impressed me last night was We Ani. I thought Nutsa and Zach were very karoke. I am curious to see how it works out tonight, I thought this was going to be a good season but after last night I am having second thoughts.
I know that the AI judges and producers have favorites and play games, but the way they treated Fire was disgraceful. Building her up only to tear her down. Voters like hardship stories. I wonder if she was the one who was cut to allow Malik to go through. They’ll never tell us. Fire can sing, granted, not the best, but the best doesn’t usually win (except for KC). Fire was probably too much competition for one of their favorites, so she had to go. Awful.
She would have never made past the top 24.
I feel like the judges made a series of wrong decisions and as they kept telling people they were going through it made me wonder what they hear that I don’t. I hate how odd Katy was when she told people the news. Stop with the dramatics and just say yes or no.
Also it very much bugs me that they are putting people through that I know very little about while for others it seemed like we got their life story. It is blatant favoritism by the producers.
I’ve been watching Idol since day one 21 years ago. Some years I feel both the viewers and the judges made terrible mistakes to the most part they were right. Sometimes I feel the show is fixed because singers who were definitely number 1 ended up 2 or 3 while the winner was lucky to hit top 10. Regarding this year I think they made a mistake with Fire. To the most part i agree with their choices but if they were intending on cutting her it should have been auditions or duets but I feel her showstopper performance was fantastic and they should not have cut her for that. Others made it meanwhile they screwed up the lyrics. Some I just felt did not do their best. 1 person during duet week screwed over her partner and is still in there. Very disappointing. I hope the remainder of the season is worthwhile.