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American Idol Showstopper recap: Meet your Top 24 who survived final judgment!

American Idol 2021 Top 24 includes dark horse Hunter Metts, who survived the Showstopper / Final Judgment round! Pic credit: ABC

Hello Idol-Addicts! I’m breaking down your Top 24 contestants who made it through American Idol’s Showstopper / Final Judgment Round and those eliminations who had me yelling at the judges, “Why?!”

Murphy is out but the next Florence and the Machine Cassandra Coleman is in! And Hunter Metts and Ava August are two dark horses I see coming up in the Idol race.

So, without further ado, here are your 24, making it through to next week when America gets to vote! (In those Live performances we have been missing!)

Who made Idol Top 24

Alyssa Wray – If this cotton-candy pink-haired belter can restrain herself from throwing 52 cards at us at once, she will likely be Top 10. Fellow belter, Grace Kinstler (my early prediction for the winner) no doubt also made it through, and she has the deep-down confidence and drive that can take her to the end.

Cassandra Coleman, on the other hand, needs more of that confidence. Please, girl, stop psyching yourself out! You have one of THE BEST voices I’ve ever heard, and I’ve compared her to Florence and the Machine from the get-go (something Katy Perry also noted).

Barefoot, and in her long dress, singing about wolves, she looked like she belonged in a forest. Now, she just has to find her freedom to propel her to true star quality … I just hope she finds it in time because I never want to stop hearing her voice.

Chayce Beckham – Every time Chayce Beckham cries, he takes another piece of my heart. And every time he sings his first note, I melt. Of course, he made it through. Come on now. What would our Top 24 be without this sexy construction worker turned mega-star?

Hunter Metts and Ava August have become my two favorite little dark horses. I absolutely loved Hunter’s version of Noah Cyrus’s July from the first note. No vocal gymnastics necessary. He’s just got an interesting voice and a smile you can’t deny, and when he cried over the judges telling him he was going through, it made me fall even more in love with this Ryan Phillippe look-a-like.

Ava is also an interesting little bird, and she took a risk with her original song Ghost of You. Her name is cool, she’s cool, and I don’t know how it’s possible that this seemingly mature gal is the youngest person in this competition (seriously, she’s only 15).

Willie Spence (a clear favorite) legit gave me goosebumps, and I loved that he wore a black suit–as if to say I’m owning my talent. And in case there was any doubt that he’s stepping into his stardom, he sang Beyonce’s “I Was Here.” Now that’s a statement. Willie just makes me want to be a better human, and I’m here for it.

Alanis Sophia and Casey Bishop faced the final judgment together because they obviously were vying for that long dark-haired girl-next-door spot, even though I gotta say I think Casey has more realness and rawness to her. However, there was no need to worry–they both made it through.

Mary Jo Young came up in the ranks as she exuded more confidence this week with her performance of James Bay’s Us. Mary Jo is the embodiment of every kid her age today. She is current, and, of course, I’m much older than her, but I see–or rather hear–that raw gift of a voice she has.

This brings me to Liahona who chose another Meghan Trainor song Me Too. I was glad Liahona snapped out of her funk and wanted to make Katy proud this week (even to the point of doing a split at the end of her performance), but, for me, this song choice felt rather dated. She doesn’t feel as “fresh” to me as Mary Jo. I’ll be watching to see if she switches it up a bit the next round.

Madison Watkins (a Tori Kelly vibe kind of girl) channeled her Girl Power, and sang “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” and you can’t help but like this girl.

Our little Madonna/Rita Ortiz girl, Andrea Valles, had a horrible song choice of “Blinding Lights.” But she also has a certain je ne sais quoi to her and the judges saw it too.

Okay … ten more of these kids to go … we’re over the halfway point, guys! Also going through to America’s vote are:

Wyatt Pike – Wyatt shares my song tastes. I appreciate that he chose a George Ezra song, “Blame it on Me,” but it didn’t do his voice justice. Nonetheless, we knew this guy was Top 24 the moment he auditioned.

Fellow likable dudes who made it through are Beane and Graham DeFranco. When I saw Beane in his silver eyeshadow, one earring, and nail polish, I said “What is going on Beane?!” I mean, I’m not mad at it. It’s just he has had totally different looks thus far (Mr. Rogers sweaters anyone?). But, hey, at least he’s keeping us guessing! And when Beane said “Mr. Richie” and Mr. Richie said “Mr. Beane” – well, I don’t know. I cracked up. Check it out here:

Graham is still my kinda guy. He reminds me of the buds I worked with at the restaurants, and as Luke keenly noted, he is the guy you just want to have a beer with. It doesn’t hurt he likes Kings of Leon, choosing “Beautiful War,” but I still say he’s got a John Mayer voice. In the end, I’m glad both of these guys are through.

Speaking of likability, Hannah Everhart, our little rooster/Katy Perry look-a-like girl made it through. I just love her personality, which only grew the moment she took her duet partner Claudia Conway under her wing and said she’d send her a chicken. You can just tell she has a huge heart. Though she did a somewhat weak version of “Wrecking Ball,” she promised she will take Katy’s advice and “do the work.” But then she followed it up with “I’m going to go home now and eat some ribs.” I don’t think she meant that kind of work, Hannah, but we love you and your quick dry wit. 

Others going through to the Top 24 who we haven’t really gotten to know yet are Anilee List, a funky little gal who chose Rufus and Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody,” which instantly made me like her. Similarly, a girl I didn’t even know was in this competition until now, Alana, sang a girl power anthem “Bust Your Windows” (a song I didn’t even know existed until now). I liked Alana, though. From her clothes to her makeup to just her whole vibe, she is current and a breath of fresh air. (Close your eyes and listen to Alana – there are hints of Kelly Clarkson.)

Former boy-bander Colin Jamieson also surprised us with a pretty fun performance of Fall Out Boy’s Sugar, We’re Goin Down … I like this guy, I’m just not sure about Top 24 … we shall see.

Deshawn Goncalves picked a solid song choice of Somewhere Over the Rainbow, sending him through.

Jason Warrior also is going through, and oh my, his last name is actually Warrior, which makes sense because my notes for him say The Fight is On. He laid his heart out on the stage with Imagine Dragons’ Believer.

First, let me say, I appreciate this guy’s fight. But we are going to need him to loosen up and have a little fun now. You know, like I think of Kelly Clarkson’s Since You’ve Been Gone when I think of Idol. I mean, Jason fought! Now he just needs to breathe a bit and relax.

Caleb Kennedy is also going through, and he hasn’t gotten a huge spotlight, but he landed on my radar last week. There is a genuineness to him, and I appreciate his no bones about him attitude. He took a risk and sang an original, and while it wasn’t an OMG moment, just his down-to-earth, humble nature, makes me declare – I’m a fan. See his adorable interaction with his dad here:

Finally, proud pappa Cecil Ray made it through, beating out Drake McCain for the last slot. I actually found myself rooting for Drake (a two-time auditioner), but it’s always nice to see someone making it through who is doing it for his kid. And that is Cecil. I’m just worried a little about his pitchiness (if you just listen to him and not focus on his heartwarming story surrounding him).

Big names who went home

Murphy – OMG, what were the judges thinking sending Murphy home?! Murphy is like this 80-year-old man in a Lionel Richie body and yet he is still all his own. I love his originality. He sang a beautiful original song “Am I still Mine,” and I even heard hints of Otis Redding when he sang the words “color me barren.” He is a genius, and his voice and originality is the judges’ loss.

Country boy Alex Miller, who you can’t help but love, was told by Luke Bryan to shake it up and sing a Rihanna song or something. So what were the next words out of Alex’s mouth?: “I’m gonna play you some Silver Wings.”

“Well dad we had a run and I think it’s time we head home,” he tells his dad, who actually thinks his son is telling him he made it through. And I just love him and am thrilled Luke is making good on his Grand Ol’ Opry promise to him. His segment was just too fun not to share.

Lailia Mach was another fan favorite who the judges sent home last night. Maybe there were just too many filling her spot (Alanis and Casey), and I was sad to see this gal go.

Funke and Ronda Felton also were sent packing after Funke’s brutal fall during Duets week. But Katy softened the elimination, telling Funke she is a beautiful painting, and those scars are now there because we don’t need perfection. And I’m thrilled Ronda Felton has gained confidence through this journey.

Also eliminated was Nia Renee, who sang Sam Cooke’s A Change is Gonna Come, and this crazy talented songstress was robbed of her Top 24 spot.

Katy confused Camille Lamb, telling her “I believe in you,” but then quickly following it with an abrupt “your journey ends here.” Camille then busted out an attitude reminiscent of the old Idol days (“I am the full package, and a lot of ones who made it are just singers”). Where is that duet partner Althea Grace who brings out the good in you when you need her. (Mommy Althea sadly went home.) As did our barefoot Lizzy O’Very who brought out the best in Murphy. Maybe these kids can all get together and hang out or something.

So that about does it, friends. I am exhausted! These two-night episodes are killing me, but I’m excited for the LIVE VOTE episodes! Who will you be casting your vote for?! I used to be Grace Kinstler all the way, but now I’m feeling those Hunter Metts and Ava August vibes! How about you?

Til’ next week, my Idol-Addicts!

American Idol airs Sundays on ABC at 8/7c.

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