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American Idol - Season 17: The Top 14 Performances

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 The Top 14. They come from across America, with stories both unique and familiar. Some are seeking chances, others just a chance. Jermiah. Madison. Dimitrius, Alyssa, Eddie Island, Laine, Uche, Wade, Laci, Riley, Evelyn, Ashley, Alejandro and Walker. You are in the driver's seat, America, because the vote is all on you. This is American Idol!


 Welcome back, Ryan Seacrest! Let's here it for your three judges, Luke Bryan, Lionel Ritchie and Katy Perry! The Top 14 are waiting for their big moments, who fans and critics are calling the best in Idol history. Tonight, they will each perform a song of their choosing and tomorrow your votes will pick the first 7 spots in the Top 10, with the Judges selecting the remaining 3.


 Let's get to the music. You can start voting now until 9am Easter. We start the party with the Hardy, Laine Hardy, whop remains the bayou boy at heart. Singing That's All Right (Elvis), he gets the show off to a rollicking start with a strong, confident vocal, jammin' with the band, delivering a solid performance from start to finish. 


 Katy says thank you very much. You know your strengths and you're playing them well, exciting to see a good looking man step into your shining personality. Luke says continue to shake out and get loose, but your voice has come so far, your deliver and confidence were unbelievable. Lionel says you were on fire, a whole lot of shakin goin' on, just do it some more.


 Next up is Evelyn Cormier, who was previously on a wedding reality show but this is the stage where she wants to be. Singing The Middle (Jimmy Eat World), the rock vibe continues with a confident, passionate performance, her unique vocal punching through the pulsing beat, hopping and kicking on stage in her flower print bell bottoms. 


 Luke says it is important to elevate the game, was that a Van Halen leg kick? We thought we had you peged and you showed us a whole 'nother element. Lionel says that's what show business is all about, you gave us the left, right and center of you. Katy said great song choice, a crowd pleaser, you were relaxed and had fun, kept us guessing. taking a chance really paid off.


 Turn on the stove and heat up the sauce for Alyssa Raghu. Like Laine, this is her second chance and first time singing on the live show. Still just a teenager, she's singing She Used To Be Mine (Sarah Bareilles). In an elegant gown, her equally elegant vocal slows the show down with a soft power, message and emotion, creating the kind Idol moment they all dream of.


 Lionel says the sauce is on fire. Every time you give us a bigger peak to your growth, just 17yrs old, we are so proud of you, you've gone to that next stage. Katy says I wanted to capture video of your performance, I am such a fan, and your dad was crying. You drove the beginning with the dynamics then gave it all to us, just play it a little more before you blow. Luke says it was very angelic and perfect, but have little ways to keep the audience engaged throughout the song.


 We continue with Eddie Island, who was chubby in middle school and decided to take control of his life and weight his senior year in High School, proving to himself anything is possible. Singing Bennie And The Jets (Elton John), he descends from a platform with a multi-color pseudo fur coat and unfortunately a forgettable vocal. He struts the stage and works the crowd but this was not a strong performance.


 Katy said she had tears in her eyes, a reap pop star using lifts. There's so much energy and she thinks he had nerves too. Luke says you make us smile, looking at that outfit, did you break into Katy's trailor? Stay on top of it vocally. Lionel says isn't it great being different? You could be the poster child for being the odd ball growing up who follows his own path, straight down your late; stay there.


 We're back with resident cheer leader Riley Thompson, who is supported by her biggest fan, her little sister, Stevie Kate. Singing Suds In The Bucket (Sara Evans), she's wearing a flame top and short shorts and delivers a pure country vocal, with swagger and dynamics in her voice and facial expressions. She's got talent, attitude, a bubbly cute stage presence and plenty of country soul.


 How does it feel becoming a star, asks Luke, great choice of song, great job hitting and holding that high note. Lionel asks if America is watching, she is attacking it, crushing it. Katy says you grew up! You keep going to the next level because you keep growing to the next level, and it's so natural, owning the stage, the little nothing hair flip? I want those vitamins! You don't have to take vitamins when you're 16, Luke teases.


 Wade Cota is getting recognized more and more but still has to work for a living. He's come a long way from singing heavy metal through puberty, which is responsible for his raspy voice. Singing Trouble (Ray LaMontagne), his unique "laryngitis" sounding voice commands the stage despite the understated song selected. The vocal dynamics and his fun personality drive the performance.


 Lionel calls him Wade The Hammer and tonight, he dropped the hammer. Katy says this was a great song choice, amazing, emotional, strong, and I believe in your voice. Wow. Wade just notices his mom in the audience. Luke says when you sing with your body, it takes the energy in the room, a spiritual moment that fires us and the band and the audience up.


 Resident opera singer Dimitrius Graham is next, who owes his mom for getting him into a performing arts school and off the streets of his hood. Singing Perfect (Ed Sheeran), he starts softly, demanding your attention with his sincerity, intensity and melodic vocal unfolding like a rolled up carpet, getting faster and bigger as he goes along, climaxing with a hidden power and control.


 Katy says uh, they like you. You look perfect but I want to borrow that coat. You've developed into a real artist, an exceptional singer, but don't forget to use that emotion to make the hairs on my arm stand up. Miraculous singer and incredible artist. Luke says remember to work the microphone, use it to partner with your voice to take us on a big time ride. Lionel says you have a quality we can't teach, to be explosive and you have the nerve to be shy then explode. 


 Madison VanDenburg appreciates comparisons with Kelly Clarkson but wants to be seen as different. Singing Fallin (Alicia Keys) while playing the piano, she takes on a bluesy, sultry vocal that sends goosebumps up Luke's arm. Taking the stage for the second verse, she delivers the attitude while working the front row fans, pushing the power and passion to bring the house down.


 That is how you put yourself in contention, Luke says, you really made a statement, become a diva now. Lionel says we need security on the set! When you get to the point where the crowd gowes crazy, you've killed it. Katy says you just carved out your own notch, you are your own person, that performance had so much soul, unstoppable.


 Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon is next to take the stage, separated from his family no more (I think that's what was happening). Singing We All Fall In Love Sometimes (Elton John) and playing the piano, I can't tell you much about the performance because I was interrupted by a local tornado warning but he looked like strong, emotional and dramatic as he delivered his powerful message.


 Lionel says something about how he went past Elton John and went Jeremiah all the way. He's pointing up for some reason and says it was amazing. Wow. Katy wipes away tears, says his story is everything, she's so proud. As the weather reporter drones on, Luke says something that brings a smile to Jeremiah's face. 


 Weather not permitting, Uche is next, singing Finesse (Bruno Mars). All I can say is I hope these artists who are being preempted by weather alerts are not penalized from your vote. You can vote now for your favorite artists whether they have performed or not, or whether you can hear them perform or not. Anyone who wants to post their own comments about these performances, please do.


 And we're back with Uche, right in the middle of Uche's performance as he gets his groove on, swinging his hips and leveraging his lankly limbs along with has acrobatic vocals in an audience-pleasing performance unlike anything the Idol stage has seen, with a whole dance sequence that gets the judges up and stepping out. I wish I had seen the start of it.


 Uche drops to the stage as Katy collapses on the judges' table having already dropped her mike. The audience won't stop cheering. Katy asks if they are allowed to show that performance on TV? Just keep swinging, she says, you'll hit your lucky star. You've come so far. Luke says that's like the opening to the best awards show ever. Lionel says young man, you are wonderful. What you have done every time is be the show stopper.


http://bit.ly/2V1fCI7 I have confirmed that Jeremiah's family has accepted his being gay though he was not quite as estranged as the show's edit would have you believe. He understands the narrative plays well on TV and is happy now that they are in the live shows that he can get the full story out there.


 How do you describe the musical style of Alejandro Aranda? He's gotten a lot of recognition on social media, including support from Stevie Nix. But tonight, he puts a charge into Drake's One Dance. With a bit of smoke and a hip hop feel, his vocal opens in a soft, floaty falsetto, a bit of smooth jazz mixed in with some electronica in a DJ set  up. This is a totally unique and entertaining performance.


 Luke says you can do no wrong in my eyes. You just sold out whatever Las Vegas casino you want. Lionel says you're DJ Alejandro, you have so much versatility, you would have no trouble filling out a show. Katy says she's going to follow him on Instagram, she wants to see more drum machine, he's such a shape shifter, a true artist. Don't forget to continue to grow as an artist.


 Ashley Hess thought she would need a practical job with music on the side but her boyfriend, James (Season 15), has helped her realize it should her main path. Singing Fix You (Coldplay) and playing the piano, her vocal is emotional, cracking with honesty, her eyes moist with emotion. The music ramps up and her performance rises to the next level but for me doesn't quite reach the level called artistry compared to the other artists.


 Lionel says her performance was very strong. Katy says she looks like Diana Krall and sings like Carole King, a true singer-songwriter and growing beautifully. Luke says we are so spoiled with these performances, and this was you in the best shape and form possible.


 Laci Kaye Booth can really pack away the crawfish back home. But in Los Angeles, she's singing I Miss You (Blink-182), though with a soft and silky vocal and seriousness of song that draws your focus and holds it. The music crescendos and she steps away from the mic stand to become more emotive with the audience but the performance never really takes on a life of its own.


 Katy says she looks gorgeous, she sings timelessly and is the definition of idol. Luke says when you can call yourself out for your spray tan, that's just fun. You could have been purple in your audition and it wouldn't have stopped you from getting here right now. Lionel says it's like we're the parents and all you kids are leaving the nest. We could not be more proud of how you are blossoming.


 For the final act tonight, it's the magical Walker Burroughs who didn't realize how much he missed home, friends and family but is hoping to put a spell on America with Climb E'vry Mountain (Rogers & Hamerstein). Standing still in the center stage spotlight, his vocal rings out honest and pure, a polished performance of the classic anthem, strong, powerful, passionate, joyous, but ultimately, as much as I liked it, a bit high school.


 Luke says that was one of the most interesting performances of yours, I couldn't figure out where you were going, as you built the tension and power and deliver notes you've not hit before, bringing the whole house down standing. Way to roll the dice. Lionel says you're dressed for GQ, but the most important thing is how much you've grown, your confidence will take you to the next level of your career. Katy says you really climbed every step of that mountain of a song and soared, its been amazing to see you step into your power and find your purpose.


 What a show, a variety of performances, a little bit of everything for you to vote on between now and 9am ET. Who will America vote into the next round and who will the judges select from the bottom 7 to round out the Top 10? Join us Monday night for the first votes reveal of the season!

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