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American Idol Red Wine recap: Hollywood Week brings twice the vocals with a new Duets Round!

Isa Pena and Olivia duet on the Idol stage
Isa Pena and Olivia Ximines sing Try on Idol Hollywood Week Duets Round. Pic credit: ABC

Monsters & Critics columnist Liz Long recaps American Idol Season 18 Episode 7, with a little help from a glass of Pinot (or two) …  

How you doin’ Idol-Addicts? Are we all ready to settle into some Idol to warm our souls in these strange times?

I don’t know about you, but I was looking forward to a little normalcy to break up my day.

So take off your “daytime PJs.” Put on your “nighttime” ones. And let’s recap.

But first, you must know, those crazy Idol judges surprised us again this Hollywood Week by telling us no more group round! It’s duet time!

So pick your partner. Swing them round. And let’s see how you all get down. Lord knows we need the exercise.

First up!…

Louis Knight & Francisco Martin give me the warm fuzzies

Idol contestants Louis Knight and Francisco Martin sing a duet on stage in Hollywood Week
Idol contestant, Louis Knight doesn’t let his partner, Francisco Martin, drown in nerves during their Hollywood Week duet of The Script’s Break Even. Pic credit: ABC

Tonight’s episode made me realize how much of a stand-up guy Louis Knight is.

My bad for having you pegged as a lost One Direction member with a decent voice, there Louis. I applaud you for not leaving your duet partner Francisco “full-of-nerves” Martin out to dry.

Now, these nerves with Francisco have, unfortunately, been a continuous theme with him. To which I say,

A girl tells a guy "Confidence Cohen"
Pic credit: Giphy

And to which Uncle Richie says, “You were born, enough.” Oh, Uncle Richie. Always making me feel safe.

First I’m getting comforted by my soothing Governor of Kentucky about the Coronavirus, and now I’m getting comforted by my Uncle Richie too?!! I feel so loved.

Auntie Pinot, you can go now. I think these fellas can take it from here. Thank you for your service.

On second thought. Best just come back. No sense in wasting good Pinot.

(P.S. both guys get through. They are half of the next boy band global empire, after all.)

Makayla Phillips & Cyniah Elise are the new “Mariah & Whitney”

Cyniah Elise sings The Prayer during Idol Hollywood Week Duets
Idol Diva Cyniah Elise takes us to church with The Prayer. Pic credit: ABC

Two girls NOT lacking in confidence are Makayla Phillips and Cyniah Elise.

After Makayla claimed her white-girl crown in the R&B category last week (rightfully so, I’ll admit), Cyniah went up to her, all “You’re a powerhouse. I’m a powerhouse.”

I choose you as my duet partner.

Makayla wasn’t familiar with Cyniah’s song choice “The Prayer,” and I wasn’t either until Cyniah got to the sweet spot of the song: Lead Us To This Place… Guide Us With Your Grace… And I realized oh my gosh, it’s that Josh Groban song that I love!

And which we could probably all listen to right now.

I’ll admit, I like Makayla more now since her audition. She showed she’s a trooper and could hang. (Insert great Katy moment here: “Don’t start turning yet for that victory walk. You divas. Alright, you’re both going through.”)

Standing O for these divas.

Nick Merico & that Kaleo guy (Jimmy Levy)

Nick Merico and Jimmy talk backstage before their Idol duet
Nick and Jimmy are a nice Idol blend tonight. Pic credit: ABC

Also surprisingly likable tonight was Nick Merico.

Yes, I still think perhaps Nick should just go off and do a Nickelodeon show or whatever that deal was he almost did last season, but he complimented Jimmy Levy — you might be a bad a** — well tonight.

And that’s all I’ll say on that.

Isa Pena & Olivia Ximines come from left field

Isa Pena and Olivia duet on the Idol stage
Isa Pena, where did you come from girl? Pic credit: ABC

Now I don’t know where this Isa Pena came from, but she showed up tonight, didn’t she? Crazy white suit, hair buns and everything!

Isa and our young Brandy, Olivia, earned a 3-judge standing O with their duet of Try.

Isa Pena. Now that’s a fun name to say. Go on. Try it.

Their duet felt like a battle I’d see on The Voice. But, whatever it was, it gave Luke the chills. And did I spy our newly beloved Louis Knight crying in the audience afterward?

Louis Knight cries in the Idol audience
I see you, Louis. I see you. Pic credit: ABC

Yep, I sure did. Aw, Louis. You’re just melting me, left and right tonight.

Now what kind of silly shenanigans can we insert into this episode …

Madison Paige, Peyton Aldridge, & his chicken wing

Idol contestant Madison stands next to her duet partner Peyton, who looks confused
Chicken wings? I know nothing of the sort. Pic credit: ABC

Ain’t no thang but a chicken wang until you switch up the song arrangement at the last minute. I mean, what’s Hollywood Week without a LITTLE drama, right?

Enter Peyton and Madison.

Peyton abandons his duet partner for a whole half hour(!), and so mentor Bobby Bones leads our feathered-earring-wonder Madison on a scavenger hunt. Where, oh where could he be??

Alas, Peyton’s in his hotel room eating chicken wings!

While this segment was not as funny as I think the producers were wanting, Peyton’s genuine apology to Madison for his unilateral music decisions was refreshingly uplifting.

And couldn’t we all use a little more of that right now? I think so.

Margie Mays & Johnny West… sigh.

Johnny West duets with his girlfriend Margie Mayes on Idol
Idol hopeful Johnny West felt a little more real than his girlfriend, Margie, during the Duets Round. Pic credit: ABC

You guys, why do I not even feel like writing about these two right now? I think I’m over them.

At least I definitely feel over Margie, and I believe Katy would share in my sentiments. Maybe it’s the high scrunchie hair-dos? Maybe it’s the overplayed screentime? Or even the bird-mating call thing she does?

Boyfriend Johnny West is incredibly nervous, which always gets me a little turned off about a contestant. I get that they’re kids and heck yeah, I’m sure it’s nerve-wracking.

But I always go back to Adam Lambert in his early Idol days. If you got it. You got it. And there’s not much room for nerves, here. We need a confident winner!

(Go back to that clip of Adam, guys, CONFIDENTLY telling the judges, “I can do it.” Think of him now as the frontman of Queen. Now compare this to Johnny-freaking-West.)

west my case.

Rant aside, Johnny is way more relatable and more interesting to watch than his helicopter girlfriend. Plus I didn’t realize how much I’d like his voice.

After Katy scolds them about needing space, she passes them through. Barely.

Robert Taylor & Tito Ray Engage in vocal gymnastics… gone wrong

Two Idol Contestants look surprised before duets Hollywood Week
Vocal twins, Robert and Tito, are a great duet in life. But on the Idol stage? Hmmmm… Pic credit: ABC

Robert Taylor was a standout for Katy the past two weeks, while I wasn’t a big fan of his falsetto last episode. Now we throw some Tito’s into this mix, and s**t just got crazy.

I’m talking blankets on bathroom floors. I’m talking runs where runs don’t need to be. I’m talking some high-pitched falsetto screams that sound like ten cats engaging in bloody warfare!

Now I know the blanket in the bathroom is not right by anyone’s standards — especially now that we have all become germaphobes.

And I THOUGHT this duet tonight would also not be right by anyone’s standards.

But I was wrong. Robert squeaked through, and it’s because you can’t help but love him as a person. But two off-key falsetto runs in a row now I can’t abide.

It doesn’t mean we don’t love you, Robert. Because we do. Tito too.

Ren Patrick & our country gals 

Ren Patrick sings on the Idol stage during duet round
Unfortunately, Ren Patrick sang her swan song tonight on Idol. Pic credit: ABC

Those I didn’t want to see go home tonight were Ren Patrick (who belted Shallow!) and whoever that dude was who sang Jackson with Lauren, our favorite baby-girl to Shawn the Songwriter.

Yes, our girl, Lauren, made it through to the next round. (Thankfully!)

Also country strong was Grace Leer — our “classic” Nashville gal. Question is: is there room for both of these country girls? No doubt, they will get pitted against each other at the end of Hollywood Week.

Of course, there were many more, including a heart-wrenching, but beautiful, performance of The Prayer by Genavieve Linkowski, but these Hollywood Weeks have been so jam-packed, it’s hard to include all!

So please forgive thee!

What’s next with Idol and coronavirus?

Alright, Idol-Addicts. We gotta be real for a second. Watching these contestants share a microphone, exist within 6 feet of each other, etc. etc., I can’t help but think, what’s next for this show?

We’ve learned that Idol announced it has halted production amidst the Coronavirus pandemic and will continue airing until live episodes, which are set to begin in April.

But believe you me, if there is a new episode to watch, better believe I will have a new recap to write!

In the meantime, Idol-Addicts, stay indoors, get plenty of vino, be a good neighbor, and share your favorites!

This newfound home-school teacher is off to perform a duet herself: interpretive dancing with my 8-year-old daughter to Sade’s Smooth Operator.

Yeah. It’s on repeat over here. Her choice.

But you gotta find those “Idol” moments when you can, I guess. Much love, all!

American Idol airs Sunday, Monday 8/7c on ABC.

Liz is a reality TV junkie, reformed attorney, and mom to Kayla—an 8-year-old who is wittier than she’ll ever be. She decided to mix her... read more
Liz Long

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