‘American Idol’ Recap: Chris Isaak Classes Up Final Duets Night


The first person eliminated from American Idol on Monday (April 8) evening is host Ryan Seacrest, who’s out sick for the first time in 17 seasons. You just knew inhaling all that stale airplane oxygen while repeatedly jetting from coast to coast to do Live With Kelly And Ryan and this gig was going to eventually catch up with him.

Season-long mentor Bobby Bones fills in on blabbermouth duties under the roof of The Wiltern in La La Land, while judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan guide the second half of the Top 20 through another night of all-star duets.

As for me, I’m hopped up on my second iced coffee and ready to start throwing things at the TV if Idol acts naughty tonight, so let’s get to it.

Alyssa Raghu & Julia Michaels, “Issues”

Julia Michaels has written dozens of tracks for other artists, including last year’s Idol coronation song “Going, Going, Gone” for Maddie Poppe. She’s also scored hits of her own. Basically, Julia is living Bonnie McKee’s dream. (Keep going for the gold, Bonnie.) Meanwhile, I personally approve of this pairing wholeheartedly, because Julia’s Clean Bandit pair-up “I Miss You” is A Jam.

Anyway, Alyssa Raghu gets tasked with a Julia duet, and it turns out to be the best thing that’s happened to the 16 year old all season. They expertly belt out Michaels’ Grammy-nominated debut single “Issues” together. This feels like the first time Alyssa has positioned herself as a serious contender all season.

Lionel praises the contestant’s confidence, while Katy tells Alyssa that she and Julia “did some alternative melodies that were so good.”

Eddie Island & Lukas Graham, “7 Years”

Children, I must confess: I can’t stand “7 Years.” I don’t get the appeal, and I certainly never understood how that song landed three Grammy nominations.

While we’re at it, how is Eddie Island still a thing? The only joy he’s sparking these days is when “Rideshare Driver / Unofficial Mayor Of Nashville” pops up under his name each week as he bounces on stage like a hyperactive puppy. When Eddie tells Lukas Graham frontman Lukas Forchhammer that being in the Top 20 is “bomb dot com,” this seems like a good moment to grab a third iced coffee.

I’m back in time to hear Luke Bryan tell Eddie that being paired with Lukas is “the perfect fit for what we’re wanting out of you.” I laugh out loud for a good 30 seconds. Next!

Wade Cota & Lovelytheband, “Broken”

Now I’m thrown off, because Lovelytheband frontman Mitchy Collins looks like Eddie Island’s twin. During their rehearsal together, Wade tells Mitchy that his mom’s had diabetes for as long as he can remember. Mitchy says he sees a lot of himself in Wade, to which Wade replies, “I could fit like two of you in me.” Idol is taking us to a realm no one could have anticipated.

Wade and Mitchy are so moved by their rehearsal that they agree to start following each other on Instagram — which, in 2019, is practically like getting engaged. Eventually we get to the actual performance. Wade balances growling through “Broken” with playing air keyboard the way only he can. He’s also wearing a jacket one of the show’s security guards lent him. Television has never been this golden before, friends.

Ryan Hammond & Cynthia Erivo, “Hold On, I’m Comin’”

Ryan is paired with Cynthia Erivo, who is an Oscar shy of being an EGOT. He excitedly declares that Cynthia is “the queen of Broadway herself!” All seems to be going well until Ryan admits he’s never heard Sam & Dave’s “Hold On, I’m Comin’”. He’s also STILL blah blah blah-ing about being overweight two years ago. Ryan is canceled. NEXT.

Evelyn Cormier & Chris Isaak, “Wicked Game”

Like when Pat Benatar graced the Idol stage the previous evening, we should all recognize that landing Chris Isaak is a “none of us are worthy” moment in this season's run. Even Bobby Bones gushes that Chris is the one duet star he wants to get a picture with.

Given that, the “Wicked Game” icon takes all of Evelyn Cormier’s fan-girling in stride. He admits that he’s never done the song as a duet before, but they pull off one of the night’s more phenomenal performances.  Chris is such a classy crooner, in fact, that I’m surprised audience members aren’t sling-shotting panties across the stage and onto his guitar.

Katy calls the whole thing sophisticated. Lionel says Chris is “a stylist” and tells Evelyn, “The two of you together were a great, great complement.”

Logan Johnson & Julia Michaels, “What A Time”

For her duet with Logan, Julia Michaels selects her new Niall Horan collaboration “What A Time.” Unfortunately, Logan is no Niall, and Julia can tell the contestant is “still trying to find his footing.”

Once they get on stage, Logan’s harmonies with Julia are decent, but he’s having a hard time selling the emotion of the song. Real talk: It’s not good. I’ll be astonished if Logan makes it to the Top 14. Luke must be thinking the same thing, as he tells Logan to take every opportunity to push a little harder with his vocals.

Raquel Trinidad & Lovelytheband, “Tiny Dancer”

Lovelytheband frontman Mitchy chooses Elton John staple “Tiny Dancer” for his duet with Raquel, and somehow she’s never heard it before. Like never ever. The contestant then proceeds to do far too many runs while singing, but Mitchy encourages this. I get the impression he’s subtly sabotaging Raquel so she goes home tonight. I like Mitchy.

Sure enough, Raquel writhes around on stage while doing vocal acrobatics left and right, thus completely missing the sentiment of “Tiny Dancer.” When Katy says she’s never heard Raquel sing that well, I spit an ice cube onto the coffee table.

Alejandro Aranda & Ben Harper, “There Will Be A Light”

Ben Harper flat-out states, “Truth be told, I’ve got five kids. I should be skateboarding right now. I don’t got time for this shit. But I’m here. I heard [Alejandro] and I was in.” Give Ben another Grammy for that alone.

He and Alejandro’s connection runs deeper than anyone knew, as it turns out they’re from just one city apart in Los Angeles County. Alejandro used to play in the music shop Ben’s family has owned for decades.

For their duet, the two of them give a mesmerizing performance of “There Will Be a Light,” the title track off Harper’s 2004 gospel album. Lionel gives props to Alejandro for knowing how to turn an audience into listeners. Katy tells him, “You’re my emo homie.”

Dimitrius Graham & Lukas Graham, “Love Someone”

Dimitrius and Lukas bond over being from tough neighborhoods, and Lukas tells the contestant to draw from points of pain like this. Their “Love Someone” duet winds up being a way better performance than the one Lukas did with Eddie Island. The pair’s harmonies, in particular, are on-point.

Lionel raves that “it was like one fabulous duet, perfectly executed.” Katy adds, “I’m gonna go so far as to say that was the best sounding duet I’ve heard today.” She then calls Dimitrius a male Beyoncé. Bold.

Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon & Cynthia Erivo, “Time After Time”

Cynthia Erivo thinks Jeremiah has an unbelievable voice. For their duet, she chooses “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper, a fellow Emmy, Grammy and Tony winner. It’s a good call, because the instantly recognizable synth ballad proves to be an excellent vehicle for Jeremiah to keep his hot streak going.

Impressed, Katy says it was like Jeremiah and Cynthia’s souls were singing together. “It was a spiritual moment for me,” she admits.

Lionel chimes in by saying, “We just witnessed a masterful performance.”

ELIMINATED: Like a hammer slamming into a piggy bank, the dream of stardom is smashed to pieces for Ryan Hammond, Raquel Trinidad and Logan Johnson. It’s a bit surprising to see Ryan go before Eddie Island, but fingers crossed that gets rectified next time around.

Speaking of next time, the Top 14 do their best to stay in their competition when Idol returns on Sunday (April 14).