ABC/Eric McCandless(LOS ANGELES) — The remaining 12 contestants on American Idol each performed solo showcases on Sunday night’s episode, but just a few managed to completely wow judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan.
One was Ada Vox, aka Adam Sanders, who revealed on Sunday night that all told, he’d auditioned for the show 13 times. As Ada, he performed a roof-raising version of “Feeling Good” by the late Nina Simone, who was just officially inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Saturday night. When she was done, Katy was literally on her knees, and said, “Wig flew! You are here to win!” Luke commended Adam for “bringing the house down” every time she sings, while Lionel said, “You are a force to be reckoned with.”
Another was Marcio Donaldson, who performed Natalie Cole’s “Inseparable.” The judges gave him a standing ovation, and Lionel, who knew Cole, said that the late singer was “watching him.” Luke called the performance “world-class,” while Katy gushed, “I love you so much, and I see you, and I’m so proud and impressed…you can do no wrong.” All three judges then spontaneously walked over to a crying Marcio and gave him a group hug.
Ron Bultongez, the singer from the Congo who was originally rejected at his audition and then brought back, similarly impressed the judges with his passionate take on Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own.” “I felt you,” said Luke, while Lionel said, “You are proving to us all that you want it that badly.” Katy called him “super-special.”
Here’s how the rest of the performances shook out:
Amelia Hammer Harris kicked off the show with a take on “Believer” by Imagine Dragons, which the judges seemed to agree wasn’t her best, but they still praised her as an experienced and versatile performer.
Garrett Jacobs was just O.K. with his performance of Shawn Mendes’ “Treat You Better.” Luke gave him a backhanded compliment by saying, “You’re not the best singer but you’re such a dadgum heartthrob.” But Katy called his performance “a rocky road,” and Lionel said he wasn’t concentrating on his vocals.
Maddie Poppe‘s surprising song choice was Melanie’s #1 hit from 1971, “Brand New Key,” the lyrics of which are often considered to be an extended sexual metaphor. Luke, who had never heard the jaunty, folky tune, said it made him want to “skip down the beach.” Katy called her “infectious,” while Lionel said she was giving “look, sound and attitude, all three in one package.”
Caleb Lee Hutchinson got to meet his favorite American Idol alum, Scotty McCreery, before his performance, who advised him, “In country music, it’s all about the song.” Caleb, who revealed that he’d lost 70 pounds, sang Thomas Rhett’s smash hit “Die a Happy Man.” Luke didn’t think it was the best song choice, but Katy said his voice had “wisdom and power,” and Lionel said it gave him a “crystal clear identity.”
Effie Passero slayed Heart’s “Barracuda,” impressing the judges with her “flawless” vocals. Luke called her, “one of the best singers we have,” while Katy advised her to own her talent and, “jump into the stardust.”
Alyssa Raghu was advised by mentor Bobby Bones to work on her stage movements and she did so while singing Rihanna’s “Stay.” Luke admitted, “You didn’t have me, until tonight.” He also revealed that Katy told him every day, “Don’t you touch my Raghu!” noting that Katy was Alyssa’s “champion.”
Mara Justine was advised by Bobby Bones to stop flipping her hair so much, and she did so, as she stood relatively still and belted out a perfect version of Whitney Houston’s “Run to You.” Lionel praised her for standing still. Luke said she left them “spellbound,” while Katy gushed, “This sounds so good on you.”
Jurnee sang Jessie J’s “Flashlight,” but the judges said her performance was so effortless that they’d prefer her to make it look as though she was actually doing some work. “Don’t make it look so easy,” Luke advised. Katy asked Jurnee to sing something that would “bring me to my knees.”
Shannon O’Hara belted out an emotional rendition of Adele’s “All I Ask.” Lionel and Luke praised her for doing a great job, and while Katy praised Shannon’s skills on the piano and the guitar, the 17-year-old laughed, “You sound like my mom!” Katy replied, “They’re all my children.”
Tune in Monday night at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, as the contestants sing with stars like Colbie Caillat, Bebe Rexha, Cam and Lea Michele, and only seven will survive the next cut.
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