With the American Idol top 50 being slashed to a top 24 on Monday night’s Final Judgment, it was inevitable that there would be some tough goodbyes. But some were tougher than others, and some were quite surprising.
The saddest cut had to be Noah Davis, whose American dream of buying an alpaca farm with his Idol winnings came to a bittersweet end. But the formerly confident contestant struggled so badly in his showcase of Lady Gaga’s “You & I” that the judges were visibly cringing. Suffice to say, no wigs were snatched during Noah’s pitchy performance.
Another early frontrunner, Laine Hardy, had once been declared this season’s champ by Luke Bryan. While that prediction was obviously premature, Laine’s top 50 song choice, Lynyrd Skynrd’s “Curtis Loew,” in a performance much more solid than Noah’s proved that Laine could have been an interesting addition to the live shows. But Laine’s Idol journey also ended Monday.
Thaddeus Johnson’s elimination — at the same stage of the game at which he was cut in Season 9 — was the most shocking, considering how amazing his Sunday solo performance of “Rise” had been. And there was nothing to hate about Thaddeus’s Monday top 50 performance of Jill Scott’s “Hate on Me.” This particular decision made zero sense.
Also leaving the competition Monday: Katy Perry’s crush-boy, Trevor Holmes (apparently she’s “over him”); Britney Holmes (the contestant “saved by America“); Victoria McQueen (the “Idol baby”); surviving Sposato twin Milo; suave shoe salesman William Casanova; Harper Grace; Lee Vasi; Ricky Manning; and Maddie Zahm.
It should also be noted that Taylor John Williams, a TOP FIVE contestant from The Voice four years ago, made it all the way to the top 50 as well, but none of his Idol performances even aired this year. Well, at least he got a girlfriend out of the experience.
Despite all these eliminations, by the end of Monday’s episode we were left with a pretty fantastic top 24, made up of Gabby Barrett, Jonny Brenns, Ron Bultongez, Brandon Diaz, Dominique, Marcio Donaldson, Cade Foehner, Amelia Hammer Harris, Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Garrett Jacobs, Jurnee, Mara Justine, Kay Kay, Dennis Lorenzo, Trevor McBane, Shannon O’Hara, Effie Passero, Maddie Poppe, Alyssa Raghu, Layla Spring, Michelle Sussett, Catie Turner, Ada Vox, and Michael J. Woodard.
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That’s a lot of names, and not all of them received equal screentime this week. But below are my favorite performances from Monday’s top 50 night.
Michael J. Woodard, “You Oughta Know”
The judges were unerstandably skeptical about Michael singing the Alanis Morrisette bunny boiler, but his slightly unhinged, completely fearless performance, complete with intact gender pronouns, proved to them that he’s a “full-on star.”
Catie Turner, “Bad Romance”
Talk about unhinged! Catie was totally gaga on the Gaga song. Her bonkers performance was far from flawless, but she once again established herself as one of the season’s most unforgettable contestants. I’m just worried she’ll be too polarizing to make it far once the public vote opens.
Jurnee, “Never Enough”
This note-perfect performance of the Greatest Showman ballad, sweetly dedicated to Jurnee’s military wife, was so Oscar-worthy that it aired almost in its entirety. (Most contestants got just a snippet.) This diva could be the Jessica Sanchez of the season.
Shannon O’Hara, “Unconditionally”
Shannon handled the polysyllabic Katy Perry ballad so masterfully and transformed it into such a lovely folk song, that Katy was crying and calling Shannon “a secret spiritual ninja.”
Ada Vox, “Creep”
The drag queen and contestant formerly known as Season 12’s Adam Sanders gave the performance of the evening with this chillbump-raising, operatic take on Radiohead’s outsider anthem. “I feel like the world is accepting me for who and what I am,” he glowed.
Jonny Brenns, “Lay Me Down”
Fully redeeming himself after a shaky Hollywood Week, Jonny proved to his once-doubting dad that music is his true calling, thanks to this polished performance.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson, “I Was Wrong”
There was nothing wrong with Caleb’s professional-but-passionate, CMA Awards-worthy take on Chris Stapleton’s barnstormer.
Cade Foehner, “No Good”
This tuxedoed, longhaired Canadian scored points with me for doing a Kaleo song, but his undeniable rock ‘n’ roll charisma and Zeppelin-esque ferocity made him my second-favorite performer of the night. This guy is going to go far.
Marcio Donaldson, “If You Really Love Me”
The soulman’s jazzy, silky take on the Stevie Wonder smash felt classic but modern, and he worked the live audience like a pro.
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