In a world where a lot of people are trying to be something they’re not, it’s nice to see a group of “kids” just being themselves.
Last night’s episode of American Idol had me feeling all the warm fuzzies. No contrived drama here! Not only did the judges pick the perfect matches for duets, but the young singers actually supported each other! Wow. What a thought.
And while I agreed with most of the judges’ eliminations, my heart (and the heart of that stud Chayce Beckham) hurt for one contestant in particular. But fan favorite Grace Kinstler (a Kelly Clarkson throwback) is still in the competition, and she, along with duet partner Alyssa Wray (a Jordin Sparks throwback) all but blew the roof off the Dolby Theatre. (My extremely early guess is that Grace takes home that Idol crown.)
Read on for a breakdown of the performances and videos of some of the standout moments!
Idol fan favorite Grace Kinstler and Alyssa Wray duet
As Lionel Richie said, “soul is not a color y’all,” and Grace has soul in spades. You might recall, she made Luke cry with just the sound of her voice. And, no joke, this girl is the real deal.
She SANG “Grenade” with Alyssa Wray, and I just really want to call it here — Grace might be the winner of Idol Season 19. These two brought me right back to my Idol days of yore. Perhaps because Grace and Alyssa are like Kelly and Jordin--I don’t know. Decide for yourself here!
No question, these two went through with flying colors, but I can’t say the same for this next duet. And here is the elimination I totally disagree with.
Chayce Beckham & Christina Daugherty in love?
So let’s just confirm this here. Chayce looked like a movie star up on that Idol stage. He gives me Johnny Cash vibes in the best way. He’s been through some s**t, surviving a horrific car accident, and this guy just exudes believability. Christina (a school teacher) is here because her students made her audition (so cute). Even cuter were these two as a pair. They had instant chemistry, however, the judges decided to send Christina home. As Chayce said, that “hurts my heart.” It hurt mine, too Chayce. Points though for Katy Perry’s cute reaction, which you can check out here:
Cassandra Coleman and Wyatt Pike give a solid duet
Another standout voice is Cassandra Coleman (seriously, this girl was in my top two slot after Sunday night’s episode). Her voice is so unique and so gorgeous. I need her to grab that confidence and to grab it quickly because she has it. As Katy tells her, stop letting fear rule. Adding to my warm fuzzies, her duet partner, Wyatt Pike, made her feel safe. And in case you forgot we were in Covid-19 times, it was obvious these kids wanted to celebrate by hugging but caught themselves and gave each other a foot bump. Catch Wyatt’s cautionary reaction here:
A scary collapse on stage is followed by an uplifting duet
Fan-favorite Ronda Felton partnered up with Funke and here was yet another example of two “kids” uplifting and supporting each other. Funke acted like an older sister to Ronda, and told her she’s worthy, and, geez, I could just feel the love. Once they got on stage, though, their performance was sort of all over the place. I was surprised at how much Lionel laid into them, he even used the word “train wreck” and then Funke fell face-forward onto the hard stage. It was truly frightening. Ronda couldn’t help but run to her new friend, and Funke will be returning for the “Showstoppers” round. You can see the performance and scary moment here:
Willie Spence & Kya Monee save the day
Now that is a hard thing to follow, but, thankfully, we had angels in the form of Willie Spence and Kya Monee embrace the stage. Seriously, they were the right pair for the job. What I really loved about Willie was learning how he got here. There is a video floating around of him singing “Diamonds” and he woke up to it going viral overnight. All of the supportive comments saying “Give this kid a Grammy” and “try out for Idol!” made him do just that (a year after helping his mom who suffered a stroke). I just love this story. Perhaps even more lovable is Willie’s silky smooth voice. As Lionel said, “you fractured us.” Their “divine” duet brought Katy to absolute tears. See it here:
Althea Grace and Camille Lamb find respect
Another great performance came from young mom, Althea Grace, and Camille Lamb. In Idol’s past, we saw a lot of catty behavior and contrived drama in what used to feel like a “hell week.” Last night was different. Only twice did we teeter on a pair not getting along (these two and the other being Claudia Conway and Hannah Everhart). Yet in BOTH instances, the young women all found a way to have mutual respect for each other. And I DUG this. It was as if they were all able to bring out the best in each other. Maybe my favorite was Hannah sending Claudia a chicken after Claudia was eliminated, or how Camille embraced Katy’s “That’s what Queens do” mentality…I don’t know. But check it out for yourself if you need an uplifting moment of women supporting women. Now, THIS is something I can watch with my daughter. Alright now.
Guys, there were so many notables, and I wasn’t expecting this. Last night’s episode actually got me jazzed for this season! Yay! Here are some more highlights:
Laila Mach & Liahona Olayan were a pair in which Laila had reason to get upset. You see, Liahona’s brother was eliminated, and now Liahona is wearing her sadness all over her face. Like snap out of it! You’re here! And you better believe Katy gave her that talk. Cute little New Yorker Laila stayed in her lane and rode it through like a champ. I honestly was surprised Liahona got another chance (after playing the keys like a zombie) but c’est la vie. Katy was on fire last night, and I’m not going to split hairs. Click here to watch their duet.
Murphy & Lizzy O’Very were a match made in heaven. Seriously. Murphy felt like he was floating being on stage with Lizzy. She is just what the doctor ordered for what is normally a very serious Murphy. Before Lizzy, Murphy had this heaviness to him. He sounds like a narrator in a movie of his life as he busks on street corners. He is unworldly. He is interesting, and when he sang Jim Croce’s “I Got a Name,” I felt as if I was hearing its words for the first time. But then comes barefoot Lizzy, and she brought a joy to Murphy I didn’t know he had. I think he didn’t even know he had it. It was extremely cute, and you can check out their duet of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” here!
Some more notable names I discovered over these past two episodes (the “where did you come from?!” contestants) are as follows:
Mignon, a country girl who seems like a brunette Carrie Underwood. There also was Mason Picks, a guy with a soft but strong voice, and his voice is MADE for the radio. Like now. I hope these two are still in. We didn’t see their duets, but they were pretty special.
Beane went higher on my “ones to watch” list after his Sunday night performance because I dug his tattoos under his Mr. Rogers cardigan! Well played, Beane. Well played. His performance of Elton John’s “Benny and the Jets” had that performance factor and personality that made the judges give him a three-standing ovation.
Caleb Kennedy was also a cool little dude I hadn’t noticed before. What I like most about him is he knows who he is and what he wants to do – he has conviction. “I want to bring the feel back to country music. That’s what I go for. The stuff people don’t want to talk about but it also can help people through things, ya know.” He’s got a Chris Stapleton voice and Katy Perry calls him “knightrider,” which I also liked.
Mary Jo Young unfortunately fell down a little on my list after Sunday night. She gave herself a nice little makeover, but her inexperience was showing a tad on the Dolby Stage. I have confidence in her, though. She was born to sing, and she can definitely sing with conviction.
Erika Perry (who I was rooting for!) is out. She is the only one who brought the dramatic antics to Hollywood Week, and when she got cut she walked up to Lionel saying, “I’m not even acting are you sure?” Later, Lionel told Katy and Luke, “Listen, if you don’t play at the Apollo Theater, you don’t know what theater is.”
Man, I’m just now tapping into how freaking cool Lionel Richie actually is.
So what say you, Idol-Addicts? Are you more excited for this Season 19 / Season 4 like me after watching the amazing performances during Hollywood Week? Who are you rooting for going into the “Showstoppers” round?
‘Til next week, my friends!
American Idol airs Sundays on ABC at 8/7c.