Dennis Lorenzo was an American Idol standout when he auditioned with “Unaware” by his own idol, Allen Stone. But on Sunday’s Group 1 top 24 solo show, he faltered with a reggae-lite, throwaway performance of Magic!’s one-hit wonder “Rude.” He needed to redeem himself on Monday’s all-star duets night, and thankfully, he did just that — with the help of Allen himself.
During rehearsal, Dennis recalled that “Unaware” had been his “saving grace” when he was homeless, and he called getting the opportunity to sing the number with Allen “mind-blowing.” Allen seemed just as excited, confessing to Dennis, “It’s cool to meet somebody who can sing circles around me. I’ve been listening to you, and I’m a little nervous right now!” Allen also described Dennis as “singing like an angel” with “the vocal cords of a flock of beautiful doves.”
The lovefest continued on the Idol stage in what was the duet of the night. Their supremely soulful performance felt like a Grammy moment — with Dennis winning the Grammy. “I think this song is now a duet,” Allen exclaimed afterward. “I’ve never sung it with anybody before, but I don’t know if I’ll sing it alone ever again.”
Dennis easily advanced to the top 14, who will compete for the public’s votes starting April 22. (Something tells me Allen will be block-voting for Dennis that night.) Some other Group 1 contestants, like Gabby Barrett and Catie Turner, also held their own alongside their assigned all-stars. But a few contestants faltered, and at the end of the evening, five of them went home.
Now, let’s rewatch Dennis’s “Unaware” audition, where his Idol journey began. …
Monday’s other 11 all-star duets are critiqued below.
Catie Turner & Andy Grammer, “Good to Be Alive (Hallelujah)”
Andy warned Catie, “Nerves rob you of the fun!” But I think this upbeat, wordy song worked perfectly with Catie’s manic personality. She exuded so much joy and energy, I barely noticed Andy was onstage. “Obviously you’re a star, because it feels very comfortable for you to be around other stars,” Katy Perry observed.
Cade Foehner & Bishop Briggs, “Never Tear Us Apart”
Cade tried to channel Michael Hutchence — he certainly got the hair right — but the aggressively rocked-up, roughed-up arrangement sapped much of the epic INXS ballad’s tender sultriness. And I wish Cade and Bishop’s rehearsal chemistry (when Bishop was crushing as hard on the rock heartthrob as Katy had been Sunday) had translated to the stage. Still, this was a solid effort.
Layla Spring & Sugarland, “Stuck Like Glue” (ELIMINATED)
Layla practically seemed like Sugarland’s new official member, confidently singing this playful tune that accentuated her bubbly personality and quirky rasp. “Layla, you don’t even begin to understand how hard it is to go toe-to-toe with Jennifer Nettles, and you just fit in with them,” Luke Bryan marveled. I was shocked that this wasn’t enough to get Layla to the top 14.
Dominique & Aloe Blacc, “Wake Me Up” (ELIMINATED)
This was better than Dominique’s old-fashioned “Ain’t Nobody” Sunday performance, and he was a smooth vocal match for Aloe. (Lionel Richie even called him “world class.”) But Dominique ultimately still seemed like Aloe’s backup singer. It was no surprise that this was the end of the road for him.
Brandon Diaz & Luis Fonsi, “Despacito” (ELIMINATED)
Brandon was cheesy doing Lionel’s “Hello” Sunday, and he was cheesy (or queso-y?) on Monday, gyrating and sporting an unfortunate man-bun. I did think Latin pop was a good fit for Brandon, and it could have been a smart way to differentiate himself in the competition, but unfortunately, this was too little, too late.
Kay Kay & Pat Monahan, “Drive By” (ELIMINATED)
Kay Kay struggled to hear herself over the band — odd, since there was so evidence of such difficulty during her spectacular Sunday solo. This pitchy duet had none of the magic of that “Love on the Brain” breakthrough. The judges were kind to her, but Luke did note that this duet “was a little outside of your comfort zone.” What a shame to see such promise squandered.
Trevor McBane & Bishop Briggs, “River” (ELIMINATED)
Bishop’s thundering alt-rock hit worked well with Trevor’s brooding persona and ferocious growl, and the two seemed so thrilled to be sharing the stage. Trevor joked that they were “going on tour together,” and I’d seriously buy a ticket to that double-bill. Maybe that tour can happen, now that Trevor is — shockingly — off the show.
Michelle Sussett & Luis Fonsi, “I Can’t Make You Love Me”
For the second night in a row, the sassy spitfire kept things unexpectedly mellow with this Bonnie Raitt weeper. This wasn’t the right song for her whispery voice, and for the first time this season, she seemed nervous. She did exhibit sweet onstage connection with Luis, though. “That was what you call chemistry,” said Lionel.
Jonny Brenns & Andy Grammer, “Back Home”
Jonny — unlike Andy’s other duet partner, Catie — excels when he does moody, broody songs, so he didn’t make much impact with Grammer’s cheerful, lightweight fare. This felt karaoke to me. “We’ve watched you to do these slower songs, so to branch out and do more upbeat was probably a little outside of what you’re used to,” Luke said.
Michael J. Woodward & Pat Monahan, “Angel in Blue Jeans”
This was awkward (it was obvious that Michael had no idea about Pat, saying, “He’s just as great as Google said he was!”), but with the eccentric Michael onstage, the awkwardness was endearing. And he totally upstaged Pat, who jokingly told him to “tone down the greatness.” Thankfully, Michael did not do that, letting his oddball star power shine through.
Gabby Barrett & Sugarland, “Stay”
Gabby was precocious and affected on Sunday, but she dug deep into this storytelling heartbreak ballad (her dad’s favorite song) with a previously unshowcased maturity. I didn’t think she had it in her. “I don’t know if we’ve seen somebody today nail it from top to bottom [like you did],” Luke said. “You didn’t miss one thing.”
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