American Idol recap: Down to the Top 16! Who survived?

Cassandra Coleman on American Idol
Cassandra Coleman made it through to American Idol’s Top 16, which shouldn’t come as a surprise if you listen to her ethereal voice! Pic credit: ABC

Hello my Idol-Addicts! Wow, we have already eliminated eight people from the competition and are already down to our Top 16! This is where things start to get really good.

And, as I predicted, two of the eight leaving us are proud papa Cecil Ray and our country-version of Katy Perry, Hannah Everhart. But rounding out those eliminated were our eye-patch gal, Andrea Valles, those who didn’t get much screen-time Alana and Anilee List, Liahona Olayan, our fighter Jason Warrior, and the one I was saddest to see go – Mary Jo Young.

But this means that Ava August made it through, and that sits well with my soul.

Let’s recap.

Alyssa Wray kicked off the night with Killing Me Softly, and I like how she changes up her hair every time I see her. I kind of just wish she could go one performance without doing that growl thing.

She toned things down a bit (I think she’s taking Katy’s “don’t throw the whole deck of cards at us at once” to heart), but I was left feeling kind of “it was fine.”

Graham DeFranco was the next one saved, and he is forever shocked at his progress throughout this competition. Don’t forget, Graham – look in the mirror and say “Oh my God, it’s Graham DeFranco” every day!

Graham turned Sinatra’s That’s Life into a Jack Johnson sort of vibe, and mixed with Graham’s spot-on John Mayer voice, I gotta say, I kinda dug it.

Grace Kinstler chose Sia’s Elastic Heart, and I don’t know if it’s because I love this song so much, or if it’s because Grace is already a superstar, but this performance, of course, was in a class of its own. I usually ask myself if I can see these kiddos coming back as the Idol winner–does their performance meet that caliber … and, yep, I can definitely say, I feel this for Grace. Check out her performance here:

Alanis Sophia, the little cutie making her mamma proud, sang Brandi Carlile’s The Story, and, for me, it felt a little too herky jerky. As in it was real soft and then it exploded out of nowhere. I mean, don’t get me wrong – I can’t do what Alanis is doing up there and at such a young age no less … it’s just .. well, it’s my job to analyze these and so that’s what I’m doing. Judge for yourself here.

Willie Spence chose an ideal song for his silky yet powerful voice – Adele’s Set Fire to the Rain. It was a nice, unexpected turn when he chose to go soft on the part I was expecting him to go full-out on, but leave it to good ol’ Willie – he opened up those vocals, and the result was nothing short of chill-worthy.

Cassandra Coleman is still one of my favorites, and I’m happy to report she seems to be gaining some confidence! Forever in her long dresses, I love how this girl is not afraid to be herself. Now, if she can fully shed those nerves and prance wildly around on stage … she will unlock all her greatness. Watch her performance of Chris Isaak’s Wicked Game here.

Caleb Kennedy is this old soul who I’ve been rooting for. I was so happy to see him go through … he’s mysterious and he is extremely authentic. He’s like this experienced outlaw but is only 16 and I dig everything about this dude.

And, I admit, I don’t know my country, but suddenly I like this 40 Days song he (wisely) chose: Chris Stapleton’s Midnight Train to Memphis.

Colin Jamieson is what I like to now call the little Idol engine that could. I underestimated him, but here he goes, picking another great song choice! Tears for Fears’ Everybody Wants to Rule the World is song that was before its time, and the fact Colin picked it made me like him even more.

Sometimes he seems a little out of breath, but when he is able to belt, he surprises with a great tone. Safe to say, I’m becoming a fan.

Casey Bishop, the little old soul rocker chick who likes Nirvana and chooses Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun KILLED it tonight. I was getting a little worried she might be falling off the radar, but she landed spot on right back to where she belongs – at least Top 3 I say.

She’s got a realness to her … seems to know who she is at the tender age of 16, and, she took a 90s classic to a place I have never seen or heard of before. That’ll do Little Casey. That’ll do.

As for our other little children, well, Wyatt Pike sang Kings of Leon’s Use Somebody, and I always appreciate this guy’s song choice. He is no doubt an Indie dude (a genre I’m particularly drawn to), but this performance of Wyatt felt a little too wild. Maybe it was the facial expressions .. I’m just being a little too picky because, for real, this guy has the most natural stage presence up there.

Madison Watkins (our curly hair throwback to Rebecca Gayheart in her Noxzema days) performed Sara Bareilles,’ and it wasn’t bad by any means. In fact, it was probably technically flawless, but it also wasn’t particularly memorable for me.

Beane sang a song I’ve never heard of before, Thirdstory’s Searching for a Feeling, but that’s okay because he rocked it with confidence and has come into his own.

Unlike Beane’s song, I am absolutely 100% familiar with Hunter Mett’s song choice of Bon Iver Skinny Love. It is one of my all-time favorites and it’s nice to see one of these youths bringing some really amazing music to the mainstream Idol stage. Alright, not Hunter!

Another favorite of mine, Ava August, nailed Anne-Marie’s “2002,” and yes, this girl is still at least Top 5. Enjoy her performance here!

Finally, we had our heartthrob Chayce Beckham ending the night with a new take on Bob Marley’s Waiting in Vain … making me question if Chayce actually belongs in the country genre … but that’s okay. This boy is not only eye candy, but I could listen to that scruffy voice all day.

So that about does it my Idol-Addicts! Did America get it right?

Til’ next week, my Idol-Addicts!

American Idol airs Sunday nights at 8/7c on ABC.

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