American Idol really loves to put the screws to its contestants. Monday (April 15) night’s episode is when the Top 14 become the Top 10, but not before host Ryan Seacrest reads each of the trilling moppets the results of America’s vote from the night before.
At that point, Seacrest informs the 14 contestants whether they’re one of the seven who made it to the Victory Zone (you’re safe!) or one of the seven who are stuck in the Danger Zone (no one likes you!). On top of that, they must sing either a new song a reprise one of their faves from the season so far, whether they’re in or out. To make the rules even more confusing, judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan will each ultimately get to pick one of the seven in the Danger Zone to rescue, and move on over to the Victory Zone.
Look, basically, just do what I do: Throw nacho chips at the screen and drink $7 wine.
Madison VanDenburg (Victory Zone)
Madison is the first contestant to be told they’re safe, but is this awkward or what? Ryan commands her to sing, yet there’s no mic in sight. Once one is retrieved, she belts out Lady Gaga’s countrified stomper “You & I” as best as anyone can be expected to while riding an emotional rollercoaster.
Evelyn Cormier (Danger Zone)
Honestly, I’m surprised Katy favorite Evelyn Cormier got this far. That’s not to say she’s a bad vocalist; I just think, for most of America, she gives off a kind of “I’m going to climb through your window while you slumber and devour your soul” vibe. It happens. Anyway, Evelyn is told she didn’t score the votes to land in the Victory Zone, and she duly gives it one last shot for a save with Kansas’ “Dust In The Wind.” Dark choice, but par for the course. Lionel says he’s in shock at the results, but “this is not the end” for her career. Lock your windows!
Walker Burroughs (Victory Zone)
Harry Potter made it through, folks, and his local Bruster’s named an ice cream flavor (called Good Heavens) after him. Upon that revelation, he knocks out a cute rendition of the Jonas Brothers’ “Love Bug.” Moving right along.
Riley Thompson (Danger Zone)
The show’s youngest contestant is informed that she didn’t get the votes to move on, so she attempts Don Williams’ “It Must Be Love.” This is the weirdest set-up, forcing these kids to sing after being rejected. Riley sounds way off, and I’m not sure even Luke will be swooping in to save this once-promising country firecracker tonight. Alas, that’s showbiz, sweetie.
Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon (Victory Zone)
At this point, Jeremiah is getting my vote. When he says he’s going to reprise his original tune “Almost Heaven” (this time with a full band and backing vocalists), I fist-pump in the air, because I’ve truly had that song lodged in my noggin since his audition all those weeks ago. Get it, son.
Alyssa Raghu (Danger Zone)
America doesn’t have a taste for The Sauce, but she duly gives Katy’s Teenage Dream tearjerker “The One That Got Away” a shot. To be honest, none of these performances tonight are stellar, but again, we have to imagine the nerves involved after being told viewers didn’t want you. Katy says, “Alyssa, that was so beautiful and you have just grown into a gorgeous young woman.” Keep the faith, kid.
Wade Cota (Victory Zone)
The judges love Wade. America loves Wade, too. He growls out Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man.” I don’t get it, and nachos are tossed.
Dimitrius Graham (Danger Zone)
I like Dimitrius, but after last night’s flat turn with Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect,” I’m not surprised he didn’t get the votes to push on. He gives Billie Eilish’s current hit “When The Party’s Over” the old college try, and Luke says he’s never felt more emotionally connected to one of Dimitrius’ performances. That sounds promising for a save.
Laci Kaye Booth (Victory Zone)
I’m just going to say it: Laci ditched her trusty guitar last night, and does the same tonight (for her take on Fleetwood Mac’s “As Long As You Follow”), and she’s never sounded more off. Something’s missing. Get that instrument back over your shoulder, girl -- there’s still quite a haul to go.
Eddie Island (Danger Zone)
This guy is right where he should be. Eddie’s vocals are so subpar compared to the other contestants that I’m surprised he scraped his way this far. He struggles through Kings Of Leon’s “Use Somebody,” and Luke straight-up says Eddie has made bad song choices these past two nights.
Ashley Hess (Danger Zone)
The judges are always up on Ashley, but it’s clear she’s not got the wow factor several of her competitors possess. She decides to “go out with a bang” by donning a tuxedo and crooning her hero Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke.” The brass section accompaniment is great. Ashley’s charisma just isn’t there, though. Katy feels it was the best performance from her that she’s seen, and I wonder if we’re watching the same show on the same planet.
Laine Hardy (Victory Zone)
Laine in his sky blue suit is just a star at this point. Both he and Alyssa returned after not doing so hot last season, but it’s obvious Laine is the one who has IT. Against a smoke-filled backdrop, Laine Elvises his way through The Band Of Heathens’ “Hurricane” and gets a standing O from all three judges. All Katy can coherently utter is “Smokin’ hot!” Lionel says the only thing missing is a pair of blue suede shoes.
Alejandro Aranda (Victory zone)
We’re down to just Alejandro and Uché, and there’s only one Victory Zone spot left. Alejandro snags it, plops down at a piano and dazzles the world with a jazzy original song called “Cholo Love.” He’s never quite fit the bill for this show, but it’s fantastic watching his talent triumph week after week.
Uché (Danger Zone)
Poor Uché in his sparkly sleeveless jacket. The others who didn’t get America’s vote have put on brave faces, but this guy just can’t hide the cruel sting of rejection. He gives an extremely emotional performances of Rihanna’s 2012 smash “Diamonds,” which prompts Luke to say exactly what I’m thinking: “It’s so tough that I can’t understand how American can’t feel the electricity that this young man puts out.” Lionel then basically gives a middle finger to the rules by walking on stage to hug Uché and immediately giving him the save he needs to move over to the Victory Zone.
JUDGES’ SAVES: Following Lionel’s premature (but spot on) lead with Uché, Luke opts to rescue Dimitrius from the Danger Zone, while Katy rounds it out by saving Alyssa. That means it’s the end of the line for Evelyn Cormier, Riley Thompson, Eddie Island and Ashley Hess. And now we’ve got a show.