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American Idol - Season 17: The Top 8 - Queen For The Night


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We Will We Will Rock You!  The Top 8 rock the house as the judges enter the theater: Lionel Ritchie, Luke Bryan and Katy Pery. And your host, Ryan Seacrest. This is Queen Night and this is American Idol!

Remember, voting is live starting now through the last commercial break before the end of the show. 2 more idols will be going home and the judges have another week to use their Save.

Brian May and Roger Taylor wish the Final 8 artists good luck on Queen night. All artists will be mentored by former Idol and now Queen front man Adam Lambert.

Walker is singing Crazy Little Thing Called Love and confesses to be uncomfortable moving around on stage. Adam tells him he looks like he's having fun so all he has to do is move around a little, trust his instincts and be who he is, a little awkward.

Walker bounces out from behind the judge and starts snapping his fingers and singing his swing and jive vocal, walking up to the main stage. He's mostly standing casually, with a few set antics, working the front row fans, even twisting his hips a little, interacting with the lead guitarist and background vocalists. The song itself didn't have much edge but was a fun romp.

Katy says he used all his appendages, she knows its hard for him to be in the present moment but he did well. Luke says America will fall in love with that performance because you were just up there being yourself, very endearing. Lionel says the first rule is if you're not having fun, the audience isn't having fun and you had fun. Don't think at all, just go out and be present on stage.

Next up is Madison, singing The Show Must Go On and Adam says that's a hard song. She has an incredible instrument that she makes sound easy, he says. He tells her to make it look harder so the audience is more invested. Queen is theatrical, he says, have authority and own the stage, bring the drama. Have a diva moment, he encourages her.

Madison looks windswept on a fiery fog-filled stage, her voice clear and perfect, a smile affixed to her face as she moves her shoulders around, walks along the front row fans, and belts out the chorus, turning up the intensity with each chorus. With guitarists to her side and fireballs exploding (on screen) behind her, she blows up the stage with her climax.

Luke says she just changed the whole gang, you showed that diva moment, that's your best performance, the best vocal performance of the season. Lionel says the acting is everything - singing is only half the equation - your voice was impeccable and you made us feel it. Katy says you've come so far but have a little further to go, turn it up a couple more notches - a hair flip and stomp - that's your voice but your body is still catching up.

We switch gears now to our first duet, Laine Hardy and Laci Kaye Booth singing Jackson from Walk The Line. Bobby says their personalities are like Johnny and June Cash, but can they make us feel it on stage? The song is fast tempo, foot stompin' country romp that I think favors Laci a bit more than Laine, who looked a little stiff. Midway through, though, it felt like Laci stretched her voice a little too far whereas Laine never really strained.

Lionel says Laci got sassy. Perfect song, perfect look, you both looked comfortable, fantastic performance. Katy says you were connected - Laine's never smiled that large. That's what you want people to feel and I felt it. Luke says I won't assume anything, but the talent is here and we're just enjoying the show, watching you grow into stars. 

Back to Queen, Jeremiah is next with Who Wants To Live Forever. It's the first time Jeremiah's parents have been to an AI show. Adam says Jeremiah started out with a folksy vocal and he suggests he lose the guitar in order to better communicate the emotion of the song. He's not sure which way he wants to go.

Without the guitar, and in an uncharacteristic black robe, his vocal is mysterious, otherworldly and mesmerizing. The performance is full of feeling, drama, growing in power and emotion, climaxing into the kind of AI moment every moment hopes to achieve at least once along their journey. Just wow.

Katy says he embodied the spirit of Freddie Mercury, beautiful seeing you perform in front of your parents for the first time, and for them to accept you as you are. Luke says you continue to spoil us, such an emotional ride, you have an easy knack for that, a complete journey. Lionel says you can't teach the ability to draw people in, the dynamics of your voice, a band with power, and you take the band to the next level. Your voice is something to be reckoned with.

I know what you're thinking - how is Alejandro going to turn Queen's Under Pressure into his own song. He wants to do it acoustically and he's nervous because he's still learning the lyrics and changing the arrangement of a Queen song. Adam says the trick is to stick more to the melody while asking your audience to go to a place they don't know where you're going. Adam says he could have a special moment but has to believe it his vision.

Alejandro's vocal is soft and insistent, picking at his guitar in a soft, hushed voice, working the guitar into a stress free performance, letting the band build up the tension while he remains even keeled. The audience is clearly enjoying his quiet nuance, clapping in rhythm and supporting him all the way.  I bet Queen never heard the song quite like that.

Luke says he loves how Alejandro sees the painting in such a different way and sticks to that, hard to do with what this show pushes you to do. Vocally you've been better but you're doing your own thing and that's so cool. Lionel says you are an artist and you can't get away from it, and an amazing stylist, it will always come out your way even if its 3 Blind Mice. Katy says your authenticity is your secret sauce and your worst enemy and you're figuring that out. Life is giving you a crash course in success and you're handling it very well.

We're back to the duets with Wade Cota and Alyssa Raghu teaming up for Ain't No Mountain High Enough from Guardians of the Galaxy (pretty sure the Marvin Gay song predates the Marvel universe, though). An unexpected pairing, Wade starts on stage with his trade mark roughness, and Alyssa walks up on stage with her pure, clear vocal styling. I think she owned the stage with her voice, her stage presence, and personality. Wade sang well but this was her show.

Lionel says Marvin has sure changed. He never imagined Marvin with that voice, and the two of you were having fun together and we got that. Katy says this was rolling the dice and we got a full on sixes. Luke when Wade starts singing, it's him and Alyssa was so comfortable. For some reason, Katy is sitting on the floor.

We continue with the duets, pairing the sweetness of Jeremiah and the power of Madison with A Million Dreams from The Greatest Showman. Bobby says the key is for them to work together. Jeremiah starts out at the front of the stage, and Madison walks in from the back. When they meet up with each other, the harmonies come out and the hands start swaying, a vocal duo of satisfying sugary sweetness.

Katy says it was wonderful watching and hearing you show each other so much respect, a beautiful dance. Luke says that's called property not getting in each others' way. Lionel says you've both been the Voices, and the two of you together were unbelievable, you managed to stay on top of the song together.

Back to Queen, it's Laine Hardy singing Fat Bottomed Girls. Lain tells Adam he's shy and Adam says Freddie was shy as well. You have to make this your moment, hanging out with your friends, having fun. He tells Laine to act like a rock star. Laine says he's not a rock star. You sing like a rock star, Adam tells him. That moment is rock'n'roll, he tells Laine.

Dressed in a green sequined jacket, he opens with a vocal chorus then gets his rock on, belting out the first verse with authority, taking the second verse down to the front row fans, bringing the whole hall together for the second chorus, leading the hand waiving, then getting back on the electric guitar for the final steamy chorus.

Luke says Katy's giddy over here, you got her. You are a country boy but you have to always think rock star when on stage, great job showing confidence. Lionel says you are the head cheerleader - if you aren't pumped, we won't join you. If you don't feel it, fake it. And tonight, you felt it. Katy says fake it until you make it and then shake it. You faked it, baked it and then made it.

We step away from the competition for just a second with a special performance of Bohemian Rhapsody by visually impaired viral piano prodigy from Dayton Ohio, here's 7yr old Avett Maness!

Lace brought to Adam the Queen song Love Of My Life, and he was immediately enamored. She wonders how Adam always seems confident on stage. He says you have to harness the nerves and frenetic energy, use that butterfly in your stomach to make emotion. He gives her some advice on how to take some time to process the lyrics and add dynamics to the performance.

With the trademark crack in her voice, she's a vision of elegance sitting on a stool with her guitar and rough along the bottom vocal. It's imperfection gives her performance a captivating degree of honesty and sincerity, making you think you're watching a young lady singing a lament to real life. I didn't think I was liking it and then by the end, I felt amazing to have heard it.

Lionel says that smoky voice can take you forever and forever, that's one heck of a vehicle you have, you can have fun, draw us in and make it personal, and tonight it make you a star. Katy says you are sparkling like a diamond, your voice shimmering, whether you win or win, you've won. Luke says how you sell the emotion of a song is so impressive, capturing emotion and making it happen under the lights, truly remarkable.

Don't forget your live results are coming at the end of the show. Next up, Alejandro and Walker pay tribute to Mrs. Robinson from The Graduate. Bobby says they want to do it right and different but not too much different; this performance will require teamwork. Sitting next to each other on stage, I have to say I loved the die color outfits the boys brought to the performance. Their vocals were soft and harmonious, with a bit of a jazzy, up tempo arrangement. Not a case of each artist taking turn but of channeling their Simon & Garfunkel duality from start to finish.

Katy says of course you picked that song, voices were like two peas in a pod, so sweetly put together, right tone. Walker says he's Simon. Alejandro says he's Garfukel. Great job, Katy says. Luke says the saviness lies in the song choice, speaking on your characters, the creative savants of the season. Lionel says let's start with the clothing, psychedelic flashbacks. But nothing psychedelic about your voices, you showed off your true abilities. 

Wade is a huge Adam Lambert fans and has been performing We Are The Champions in bars and concerts for a long time. Adam tells him there's a lot of power in just standing and delivering. Adam notes Wade feels small but his voice is so big. He tells Wade this is his moment of celebration and he can create an equal moment for the audience.

Wade tries to sound wistful, hopefull and determined but instead it sounds kind of like Sylvester Stalone trying to sing. I don't think this was a good song choice for him, but he gives it all he has. At one point, he falls out of sync with the band, but waits for them to catch up and jumps into the chorus again, closing out strong but knowing this was not his best performance.

Luke says the way you carried through that missed lyric was perfect and we heard some real singing out of you too, some real vibrato. Lionel says you fight and fight and every time you pulled it back to center, you were victorious. You've already one in the Top 8 of American Idol. Katy says you push yourself, trying to show a different side of yourself every time, and Adam Lambert won his life even though he didn't win American Idol.

The last performance tonight comes from Alyssa, with her take on Somebody To Love. Adam says she has a natural theatricality to her that is perfect for Queen week. He gives her a note to go wild at some point and says diva is not a bad word, it's about being a confident woman and owning your moment. 

Opening in silhouette, she delivers a power note to kick off a song about vulnerable empowerment. Her vocal is strong and rings out, her stage presence full of breathless drama and performance that sometimes gets in the way of lyric delivery.  It was a fun, entertaining performance, but not the best of the night.

Lionel calls Alyssa the epitome of determination, you just whaled away at it, never lose your determination, you're on fire. Katy says you're only 17, your voice is still going through puberty but I believe in you all the way. Alyssa admits she's stalling for time to give people more time to vote. Luke says there's still a bit of high end power she's not capturing yet but in that zone, she's amazing.

Thats it for competition and live voting closes during this commercial break so this is your last chance to save your favorite. 

Voting is now closed and it is time to find out who America voted into their Top Six. Dim the lights and here we go. 

The first person through to the Top 6 after the nationwide vote is...   Jeremiah!

America also wants to see more of...   Laci!

And safe for another week, after the nationwide vote, into the Top 6 is...   Madison!

Singing again for America next week after the live coast to coast nationwide vote is the one and only...   Laine!

Now, the 5th person who secured a spot in the Top 6 of American Idol this season after the nationwide vote is...   Alejandro!

That leaves Walker, Wade and Alyssa here on the stage. The next person here into the Top 6, after the nationwide vote is...   Wade!  Wade is stunned. 

That leaves Alyssa and Walker as the audience shouts Save Him and Save Her. The judges have one Save for the season. Will they use it tonight?

Luke says, speaking for the judges, they have decided to not use the Save tonight. That means we say goodbye to Walker and Alyssa tonight.

Here's your Top 6, America: Wade, Alejandro, Laine, Laci, Jeremiah and Madison!

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