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American Idol - Season 17: The Top 6 - Woodstock & Showstoppers

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Tonight is a critical crossroads in the competition because our epic finale is just 2 weeks away. Have you picked your favorite yet? This is America's #1 singing show, and this is American Idol!


Please welcome your judges, Luke Bryan, Lionel Ritchie and Katy Perry. And your host, Ryan Seacrest! Voting is now live across the nation through the final commercial break. Two more are in danger of leaving based on your votes unless the judges use their one save for the season, and that save expires tonight.


Tonight, two themes. First, there are show stoppers with Lauren Daigle mentoring, but first, we're flashing back to 1969 for the 50th anniversary of the iconic music festival, Woodstock. Rock, folk, funk, world, blues, Woodstock had it all, including a 2am set by one of the most celebrated female rock stars of all time, Janice Joplin. Kicking off the show with Piece of My Heart, here's Madison Vandenburg!


Madison takes the stage with a crowd pleasing rendition of the classic Janice Joplin song, a terrific song for her voice. Rocking the electric guitar, her vocal has power, urgency, and just enough originality to own the cover, but no guttural roar to sound like a copycat. 


Katy says you flung your pony (tail). You're not a stereotypical pop star, you brought your guitar back out, I want you to win this thing, so keep showing your teeth. The second half was better than the first half. Luke says you're sweet and timid, rocking the jump suit and electric guitar, you're digging in more every week. Lionel says you are not just a pretty face, the talent is showing all over the place, with star attitude tonight.


Next, Laine Hardy is feeling good as he takes on Joe Cocker with I Don't Need No Doctor. Also sporting the electric, this is a straight laced R&B performance, a clear and simple vocal, a bit laid back (it's the blues after all), but an  entertaining performance. Laine throws in some fancy footwork as he shows off his guitar work towards the end.


Luke says you continue week after week to pick the right songs for you, your voice has a lane (no pun intended), that certain sweet spot and last year you didn't know what that was but this season you do. Lionel says he likes his jackets - a little fashionista means a lot. You are taking this to the core of who you are, you have an identity now connected to your voice. Katy says you've figured this chess game out, and now is the time to scare yourself, push yourself past the point you don't think you can go. Yes ma'am, Laine says.


Jeremiah is next to take the stage, sings Swing Low, Sweet Chariot from Joan Baez, who was six month pregnant when she performed it at Woodstock. Sitting at the piano, he opens by taking us to church with gospel backup, then jazzing it up and taking us to church with an up beat vocal. He grabs the mic and hits the stage to lead the audience in song with his soulful power and utter joy of music.


Lionel tells Jeremiah we will have to have a root check, you're blinking the bling and the swing tonight, your vocals are absolutely amazing and I don't even know where the top of your range is. In the future, frown up a little just so I know it's difficult. Hallelujah, says Katy, you may have taken a pass from the church but the church is still in ya, it was really good. Thank you for showing off. Again. All those notes. You were born the same date as John Lennon. I think you're chosen. Luke says that was one of your most solid performances, comfortable from the start, you took it to the next level midway through, showed off those smooth, flawless runs, a professional performance.


Next heading to Woodstock is Laci Kaye Booth with To Love Somebody by Janis Joplin. With hair down to her elbows, in a frilly red dress and electric guitar, her vocal is as gorgeous as her visage. Not overpowering, but celebratory, the kind of performance that makes you want to sway arm in arm with the person on your left and your right. 


Katy says bigger the hair, closer to God and your touching the stars right now. A full on superstar. Keep singing like you are singing, a little more movement of the fringe next time. Luke says your voice can sometimes get buried because it is so smoky and sultry, but you dug in, stood out in front of the band, always put your voice out there. A big upward movement, cool to watch. Lionel says you are beautiful tonight. Remember there's a crowd in front of you, play it over there. 


The music doesn't stop with White Rabbit from Jefferson Airplane by Alejandro Aranda. With a psychedelic background giving way to a back lit performance, his vocal is soft and floaty, letting the band build up the drama into the second verse, never getting too far away from his core. The whole thing was very artistic but a little underwhelming for me.


Luke tells Alejandro that embodied the spirit of Woodstock, a Pink Floyd type of deal, something we haven't really heard from you, kind of a rock star EDM moment. Lionel says the jacket is on fire. Play the microphone stand, if you're going to hold it, pull it back, talk to it, walk it back some more, make love to it. Katy says that was a fantastic performance, you dug in for a hot second and really felt yourself and keep doing that, unique and individual performance, one of your best vocal performances, you pushed yourself.


Joe Cocker makes his Woodstock return through the talents of Wade Cota, singing With A Little Help From My Friends. Strutting to the mic stand, his voice has a mesmerizing warble perfectly suited to doing this classic justice while remaining unique and entertaining. He can't stay still, moving around the stage, having the time of his life.


Lionel steps out from behind the judges table and says that is about as close to a 60's performance that I, as a kid on the front row, you had more movement than Joe Cocker and you brought the entire, a perfect song for you, knocked it out of the park. Katy says that was the best performance so far tonight. Luke says I'm watching you, trying to find an adjective to describe how awesome that was, a lady was losing her mind during that, you just spiritually moved the whole room and elevated the game.

Next, please welcome former Idol Gabby Barrett with I Hope!


Over 11 million votes so far tonight. We move into the second half of tonight's competition with Show Stoppers and Lauren Daigle Madison as the guest mentor. Returning to perform Celine Dion's I Surrender, here is Madison. Lauren says her vocal ability at that age is profound. She cautions Madison to relax her draw and make a smiley face in the roof of her mouth to avoid sounding shrilly. 


The stage is a winter wonderland and Madison a vision in purple lighting as she easily moves from softer lows to powerful highs. Her vocal is packed full of emotion, complemented by her dramatic stage presence. I don't think she quite got rid of the shrillness of her voice but it doesn't matter, she delivered.


Katy says I could see and hear you felt it, the more you connect with a song and deliver, the more we believe it and are locked with you. There you are. Luke says you finally gave us a cry in there, we could feel you, 99.9% there and you just got the cry right. Lionel says your vocals are far beyond your age, beyond the zone, you are owning the song, not covering it. You killed it.


It should be no surprise that you've never heard of this next show stopper from Alejandro - it's an original song called Poison. Returning to the acoustic guitar, Alejandro says his idea of a show stopper is coming from a pure heart. Lauren says his songwriting is stunning, he has such deep tone to his singing. He admits he is still learning to sing and she gives him some tips on breathing. Lauren also helps him use his arrangement to transport his audience.


Singing intimately in a square in the center of the audience, his fingers are a master of motion on his guitar, the video wall echoing a sketch rendering of his live performance. His voice is pure velvet in his upper register where he is the most comfortable, expressive and transportive. Using the roughness of his guitar to complement his softness, it is a masterclass performance that certainly stopped this show for the audience.


Luke says I pray America truly understands how challenging and tough it is to play the guitar like you did, and your voice, that is the best you have sung in the competition, your voice was amazing. Lionel says you've done a great job singing other peoples songs but watching you sing your songs is everything. Your voice is immediately identifiable, you already have a career for a very long time. Katy says that was the best you have ever sang on the show. How wonderfully interesting it will be when you change American Idol by winning it.


Lacy takes us on a journey with Open Arms (by Journey). She's not a belter, so Lauren helps her with some exercises to find those big notes. Her voice is rich with texture, Lauren says as she works with Lacy to give more nuance and life to her runs. She opens a little quiet, tentative, beautiful and elegant, the stage bathed in fog. The vocal is sweet, sensitive, honest and devoted. You wouldn't know this was a cover with her angelic arrangement. 


Lionel says how you ended the song was perfect, a great delivery, you are in your comfort zone, controlling your vocals to a T. Katy says vote now America. That last note, it made me cry, exactly what I was asking for earlier tonight, you are unique and multi-dimensional, country, pop, whatever you want. Luke says we are so proud how far you've come.


Jeremiah is singing Somewhere from West Side Story. Lauren encourages him to sing A Capella to focus on his phrasing. Make sure every single note is filled with emotion. His voice has the ability to create a story within itself, and that's the richness of a communicator. He's ready to fly.


His voice opens in an impossible upper register, the audience all waiving lights to help set the mood. The transition into the first verse was a little abrupt, but his vocal is pure and inspirational, the sun rising on the video screen behind him, the stage fog adding to the the drama that explodes with his power vocal, his performance moving, his climax creating a huge moment.


Wow, says Katy, you really took what Lauren said to heart and it did so much good for you. I was locked in every single word and syllable. Luke says you started a little unsure, but the end, praise. As a performer, that happens but half way through to the end, that was incredible. Lionel says you cannot study mesmerizing, or audience locked in on you. You killed it tonight.


Wade Coda's show stopping performance will be Through The Valley by Shawn James. Playing the acoustic, Lauren says his originality is insane. He admits he has trouble staying in the performance after a mistake. She tells him to give himself the freedom to fail. Lauren says the lyric is heavy and intense and that mirrors his feelings right now, and that's the recipe for an incredible performance.


This is a great song for his vocal coarseness and he delivers an intense, powerful performance, a heavy bass drum beat punctuating his devilish delivery. He then slips into a beautifully melodic falsetto, then just as fast drops back into his hard grow, a dramatic pause and then he brings it home. Move over House of the Rising Sun, Wade Coda has announced his presence.


Luke says that felt like a total Johnny Cash moment, you got the character, everything you are selling us is believable. Lionel agrees, you have sold it to us. Katy says that voice is 1000 years old. You were shocked by last week's vote and I think something changed this week where you finally started believing in yourself.


Laine Hardy closes out tonight's performances with his take on Chuck Berry's party standard, Johnny B Goode. Lauren was also from Louisanna, so Laine instantly felt at home with her. She loves his light-hearted go-get-em personality. She tells him to work on his timing with his guitar and helps him learn some cajun dancing, like stepping on a nail. 


Opening in silhouette to the classic guitar licks of the song, he takes a rocker's pose on the beat to set the mood. The lights come on to reveal a huge LAINE spelled out behind him on the video wall as he saunters up to to the front of the stage before he has even sung a note yet. He jumps into the vocals and never looks back, rocking the audience and the judges with an energetic performance, head rolling, shoulder shrugging, and then he goes even further, leaning into the audience for his guitar solo. The judges are on the feet and Luke has to restrain Katy from rushing the stage. 


Wait, Lionel shouts over the audience, I have one question to ask, you've been in my closet? That was to the point of feinting, the perfect song, the perfect attitude, I'm in love with what you're doing. I'm scared, Katy whispers, it was so good, who knew you had that in your lower body. Katy lets out a scream. Luke says Laine has left the building, is going to the limo. I have nothing left to say. Good job.


Two people could leave the stage tonight. This is your final commercial break to vote. It's very close so keep voting!


This is your last chance to have a say in your Idol Top 4. Voting is only open for a few more seconds.  Your results are coming up!


Will it be Madison? Laine? Jeremiah? Laci? Alejandro? Or Wade? Who is your favorite Idol this season?  Voting is now closed and our Top 6 are on the stage. 2 are in jeapordy of leaving based on your votes. Dim the lights, here we go.


In no particular order, the first person America has voted into the Top Four, after the nationwide vote is...   Madison!


The next person that is safe after the nationwide, coast-to-coast live vote is...   Laine!


Who's next? After your vote tonight, singing again for America next week in the Top Four is...   Alejandro!


So we have 3 remaining idols and one spot in the Top 4, between Laci Wade and Jeremiah. The person to make it into the Top Four, after the live vote tonight, is...   Why not Wade?


Wade cannot believe it as he joins Laine, Alejandro and Madison. The judges now have to decide whether to use their Judges' Save on either Jeremiah or Laci. This is the final week they have to use it so the real question is, which of the two they will save. 


The judges confer and Katy is called by Ryan to reveal their decision. Katy says they will use the Judges' Save. Who will you use the save for, asks Ryan? The judges confer again.


Judges, I need an answer right now. Katy says you are all so great, I love you so much, Laci! Laci cannot believe it as Jeremiah is eliminated from the competition. 


So there you have it, your Top Five heading into next week's Semi-Finals: Laine Hardy, Madison Vandenburg, Laci Kaye Booth, Alejandro Aranda and Wade Coda.  Who will be your next American Idol?

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