American Idol is back in Hollywood! Host Ryan Seacrest shows off the show’s new digs at the start of the April 23 episode. He reveals that 33 million votes have been cast for the top 20.
The first singer to make it to season 21’s top 20 is Zachariah Smith. Ahead of his performance, he reveals that his Mississippi hometown was hit badly by a tornado and much of the town has been destroyed. He kicks off the night with a powerful performance of Foreigner’s “I Want To Know What Love Is.” Lionel Richie tells Zachariah that it was a “perfect song, perfect presentation.” Katy Perry thinks he’s “top 10 material.”
The next contestant to make the top 20 is Matt Wilson. He performs a dreamy rendition of “Say You Won’t Let Go” by James Arthur. Luke Bryan says it was a “great song choice” for him. Lionel loves that Matt gave some “attitude” in his performance and how his family and kids are in his vision for his future.
Nailyah Serenity has also made the top 20. She slays her performance of “Baby Love” by Mother’s Finest. “I’m not an astrologer, but I can spot a star when I see one,” Luke declares. Katy makes a point to note that now is the time for the contestants to show who they are as artists. “You are an artist through and through and that’s what’s going to separate you,” she tells Nailyah.
Warren Peay is safe and in the top 20. He opens up about his past battle with alcoholism before crooning out to “Up There Down Here” by Zach Williams. “I love that you’re authentic,” Katy says. She also thanks him for being vulnerable with the world. Luke raves that this was a “world-class song choice” for Warren.
Kaerya stuns with her performance of Lewis Capaldi’s “Bruises” on the piano. Katy admits that Kaerya’s arrangement “smacked me across the face.” Luke believes this was a “breakout moment in the making” for Kaeyra. Lionel wants to make one thing clear to Kaeyra: “You have a career.”
Mariah Faith is headed to the next round of the competition. She rocks out on stage and sings Solomon Burke’s “Cry To Me.” Luke loves that Mariah is this season’s “soulful country singer.” Lionel calls the performance “old song, new school presentation.”
Iam Tongi has officially made the top 20! He dazzles with his unique and fresh spin on ABBA’s “The Winner Takes It All.” His performance earns rapturous applause from the audience. “I guess this is called The Iam Tongi Show now.” She adds that what Iam is giving is “transcending everything.” Luke tells the young singer, “God gave you the magic.”
There are only 3 spots left in the top 20 for this first group of singers. Haven Madison is next to make the top 20. The high school junior shines with her performance of Leanna Crawford’s “Mean Girls.” Katy appreciates that Haven is choosing songs that she could have written. She’s noticing that “refined sparkle” coming through with Haven. Luke tells Haven, “One of your best performances I’ve seen you do.”
Oliver Steele’s name is called next. Turns out, his beloved father has been in the hospital for the past several weeks and now he’s on dialysis. Oliver truly has a moment with his original song “Too Soon.” Luke says the performance was a “10 out of 10.” Lionel raves that Oliver’s “talent is on fire.” Katy is shocked this is the first time that Oliver’s performed an original song and says it was “really great.”
The final contestant to make it to the top 20 out of this first group is Lucy Love! This means Elise Kristine, Emma Busse, and PJAE have been eliminated. Lucy decides to sing her stellar original song “Boulders.” Lionel is nearly speechless and on his feet. “I just love the way you attack it,” Luke says. He tells Lucy that she “captured” his heart with her story. “Way to show up tonight. That was tremendous,” he continues.
The next group of finalists take a seat on the couches and await their fates. The first contestant out of this group to make the top 20 is Hannah Nicolaisen. Her rendition of Queen’s “Somebody to Love” is definitely her best performance yet. Luke commends her for branching out with this song choice. Katy thinks she’s on a “rocket ride” to stardom.
Olivia Soli makes the top 20 and keeps the Celine Dion vibes going with her incredible performance of “I Surrender.” Lionel recognizes that Olivia doesn’t need a “confidence boost” because she’s got it in spades. Katy thinks Olivia should just keep on singing Celine songs and “always play the power card.”
Marybeth Byrd takes on the top 20 with her original song “People Pleaser.” Lionel declares that was “superstar material” from the country singer. Luke admits that he did not see that performance coming and thinks the name Marybeth Byrd “sounds like a star.” Michael Williams debuts a new look as he makes the top 20. He makes the crowd swoon with his performance of Selena Gomez’s “Lose You To Love Me.” Luke points out that Michael “looks like a million dollars” and “crushed” his performance.
Paige Anne has gone from being eliminated from the competition to making the top 20. She doesn’t hold back with her jaw-dropping rendition of “Say Something” by A Great Big World. She’s in tears by the end of her performance. Katy admits again that they were wrong to eliminate her. She tells Paige Anne that she thinks the teen singer is the “best vocalist” in her age range “hands down.”
Nutsa wows with her performance of “Un-break My Heart” by Toni Braxton. “You are the hardest working person I have ever met on this show,” Lionel says. “You are a force to be reckoned with.” Tyson Venegas makes the top 20 and performs his original song “180.” Luke tells Tyson that he’s “far beyond your years talented.” Lionel is impressed with Tyson’s songwriting skills. “That was a damn good song,” he says.
Megan Danielle takes the top 20 by storm with her terrific performance of “Holy Water” by We The Kingdom. Luke is stunned by the performance. “That was the best performance I’ve seen you do this season,” he says. “Nobody sounds anything like you.” Lionel says it was a “sold-out performance.”
Colin Stough is one of the final contestants to make the top 20. He performs “Pretty Heart” by Parker McCollum. Katy admits that she wants to push him vocally the next time. “I know you have them in you,” she says. Luke tells Colin to “give it to us.” He adds, “I believe you’re a big star, but you gotta understand you are.”
It’s down to Dawson Wayne, Malik Heard, Wé Ani, and Elijah McCormick. The final singer to make the top 20 is… Wé Ani! She brings down the house with her performance of “Skyfall” by Adele. Katy is nearly speechless. “I’m just so shook right now,” Katy says. Lionel tells Wé, “The amount of talent you have is undeniable.”
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