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American Idol Season 18 - Top 10: Home


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April 24th, 2020, South Georgia. Phillip Phillips picks up his guitar at his home and begins performing his hit single, Home as we see video from the Top 20 at home, preparing from for their performances and living life with their families. Tonight, we're celebrating the place each of us has come to know quite well in the past few weeks, home. This is American Idol!

From the comfort of their own homes, please welcome your judges, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Ritchie. This week, Katy is dressed as a roll of AI Toilet Paper. Luke wants to know what ply she is. Last week we entered a new frontier coming from 25 locations across the continent, and the Top 20 put on an amazing show. They sang, the judges weighed in, and you voted for your favorites. We are in 25 locations again, and now let's see who has made your Top 10.

I have the results right here. But first, some news. Tonight, for one night only, the Judges' Save is in effect. That means after the Top 10 is revealed, the judges will have the power to save one person from leaving the competition. They don't have to use it, but we'll see if they do.  

This week, our theme is appropriately called "Home". Each finalist can choose a song that reminds them of home, or is inspired by a place where they felt at home. They also got treated to some one-on-one time with season mentor, Bobby Bones. You are voting tonight to see who you want in your Top 7. Voting opens at the end of the show, 

We kick things off with some results as Ryan names the Top 10. All 20 contestants are on the screen as Ryan wishes them luck and here we go. In no particular order, the first person to make it through to next week's competition, after the nationwide vote is...   Louis Knight!

From his backyard porch, Louis struggles to find his breath after learning he has made it through. Good choice, America, Katy says. Here's a look at Louis' time at home and his time with Bobby Bones. Family time, pumping iron, delivering pizzas to medical front-liners. Bobby says he's a heartthrob now. Bobby says put yourself in the place of the audience who need to hear this.

Louis Knight is on his front porch, singing In My Place (Coldplay), playing a piano (because everyone keeps a piano on their front porch). His vocal is comforting, emotional, his family his audience, a very strong performance to make his case for the Top 10. Katy says he is leaning into his roots, a good song choice that made her escape to a better time. Luke said he wasn't completely blown away but he has a star quality and should stick with songs that speak to you. Lionel says to play to the camera.

Before we move on, Ryan shares a video from Louis fan Kelsey in Maryland, who is singing along with her favorite idol. That's amazing, Louis says. 

Let's find out who will continue to have a chance to win your votes next. After the nationwide vote, the next person making it into the Top 10 is... Julia Gargano! Holy Cannoli, she says from her "studio" room. She celebrates with her family, with whom she's quarantined. Roll tape with Bobby Bones and bad puns. 

What is happening in New York has affected Julia's song choice, turning to Billy Joel's New York State Of Mind. With an I <heart> New York postcard behind her, her vocal is jazzy and smooth, with just a dash of big city attitude. A pretty straight forward arrangement, her performance is comfort food for the ears. The judges bow to her. Luke says his most favorite performance of the year, 12 out of 10, elegance, maturity, class. Lionel says you put us in a NY state of mind, made a Billy Joel song your song, so memorable. Katy says one of the best performances of the season, so many inflections, you showed how talented you are as a singer.

Now for something special this week, each judge teamed up with an industry heavyweight to shed light on what it takes to be an Idol. Here is Katy and chart topper Charlie Puth. Katy asks how he carved out artist identity. Charlie says 5 years ago he didn't have any, he was a jazz pianist trying to translate chords into pop music. It took him 2 years to get attention with his album Attention, so it doesn't have overnight. He tells the idols to not pretend to be anybody else - you can be similar but you are also unique.

Back into results, after the nationwide results, the next contestant making it into the Top 10 this season is...   Jovin Webb!  He fist pumps the air from home in his Louisiana garage, then lifts up his son to celebrate. The video with Bobby Bones mixes his time with his son and with Bobby Bones. The key to his success, Bobby says, is to give his performance as much flavor as he can. 

Singing Voodoo (Allen Stone), Jovin in front of a red curtain, his mic stand wrapped in fish netting, a Bourbon St. sign in the background, his vocal easy going and jazzy, his voice solid and feeling, energetic. He even manages to dig deep and swing with he music. Lionel says an old school sound but his delivery is real with that rasp. Katy says she was a bar in NOLA drinking a martini as she was singing and she can't do either of those things right now. I escaped with you. Luke says you haven't always been on pitch but your believability compensated; this performance, you didn't hit one wrong note. 

After the nationwide vote, the next person who has made it into our Top 10 tonight is...   Grace Leer! From her flowerful BY, Grace gets a hug from mom, who loves Grace's fans. She knows it was hard for America to narrow it down and is so grateful. We look at her time with Bobby Bones and her childhood home in Danville, CA. Mom is a Physician Assistant and a bad-ass. Her hometown gave her a social-distancing parade. She's hoping to make her fans proud as a woman in country music.

Singing Somewhere Over The Rainbow (The Wizard of Oz), the music opens with a soft guitar lick and then her voice reaches out and soars among the roses and flowers, a powerful and moving performance, worthy of any stage. The neighbors on the other side of the fence applaud. Katy said she had never heard her voice like that, big and bold, singing to thousands. Luke says you have that sweet country spot but you also have a big, big voice, loved the different side. Lionel says the audience you sing to, stay right there and kill it. 

Sixteen faces still remain hopeful so let's get to more results. The next person to make it into your Top 10 after the nationwide vote is...   Jonny West! With a big smile on his face, he says oh shoot, thank you, America! He believes now. We look at Jonny's time with Margie in her apartment, where there's not even room for one. He is grateful and appreciative she has opened up her home to him. He is surprised how many have reached out with support for him across America but he is working to remain grounded in the process and appreciate the moment.

Singing Faithfully (Journey), it is a scaled down performance, him on a couch in front of an electric keyboard. The vocal is soft, sensitive, romantic even, bringing in the band with an electric arrangement as his voice grows with emotional honesty and tenderness. A very unique and enjoyable arrangement. Luke says his ability to look like he's never sweating anything in his range, those well place falsetto movements, you have your style and you stay within your style, you could sing anything. Lionel says you are going from a shy to sexy guy (Johnny laughs), which is the business, you are on your way to something really big. You Jonnyrized that. Katy says it is beautiful to see the life you and Margie are building, you were singing to a deeper level of love and you got me on the Alejandro level now.

Next, Luke Bryan sits down with Darius Rucker to talk about what it takes to become a superstar. Rucker says performing in front of an audience is easy because you can feed off the energy. What's crazy is singing at home without an audience - you have to perform without the immediate feedback. It's harder being a solo artist than fronting a band. You have to be you or you'll be replaced. Luke says perform like your hero is watching.

We've hit the halfway mark and Louis, Julia, Jovin, Grace and Jonny have all made your Top 10. Five spaces remaining and 15 hoping to take them. What does the future hold? Let's find out right now. After your vote, the next person in our Top 10 is...   Sophia James! She is stunned as she is hugged by family, near tears. Here she is at home with her family and Bobby Bones in her childhood home, watching movies, cooking dinner, and playing music. She is anxious yet grateful for what she has. She has to be not only a singer but the entire production crew. She can't hid behind anything and hopes that comes across.

Singing In My Room (The Beach Boys) from her actual childhood bedroom (you can see graduation photos on the wall and her desk in the mirror reflection), she delivers a sensitive, raw vocal while lightly running her fingers over the keyboard. Her voice is soft and quiet, weeping with loneliness and longing, ending on a beautifully sustained note and keyboard run. Her brother, James, surprises her with a bouquet of flowers. Lionel says she's done the work sussing out her delivery sweet spot. Katy says she has a career in music and really brought it with that interpretation. Luke says she's a wonderful vocalist and he was immersed in her performance. 

It's the Home version of American Idol, with performances from home for a generation raised on home produced videos. After over 36 million votes, the next person to make it into your Top 10 this season is... Arthur Gunn! He is taken by surprise from his BY porch and needs a moment to compose himself before facing the camera. He can't express enough how much he wants to thank everyone who has supported him. His family rushes in to congratulate him.

Here is what has been cooking up at home with Arthur where he is quarantined with his parents and sisters where he like likes to cook Nepalese food. Bobby says he's come full circle, since his Idol journey started with an audition tape made from his bedroom. The song he will sing, Take Me Home Country Road (John Denver) reminds him of where he grew up, so much happy energy and nostalgia. Why not feel good about home? The world can be sad but home can be happy. Stay safe, healthy and positive, he says, namaste.

Nighttime has fallen, lanterns lighting up his back porch, behind which you can see the traffic on the freeway. With an energetic, digital vibe, Arthur's unique sound rings out with joy and journey, exploring home everywhere. There is so much joy in his voice and in his body language, you get the feeling he'd be performing for his neighbors on Sunday night even if he was not competing in the biggest talent show on television. This could have been in any small concert venue, a big stage or television. Katy felt so connected to Arthur's performance. Luke says a classic song to put his spin and Bob Marley vibe on, that reggae style. That showcased you in a perfect way. Lionel says it was all believable, a hit record for you. Loved what you did.

The finale of this season of American Idol will be in just 2 weeks, but we still have to fill the last 3 spots in your Top 10. After the nationwide vote, the next person who has made it into your Top 10 this season is...  Just Sam! She is speechless from the apartment in which she is living, tearing up as she wishes she could share the moment with her grandmother. Ryan and the judges stand by while she Face Times her in real time with the news. Grandma says everyone knew she was going to make it. I didn't know, Just Sam smiles. 

We catch up with Just Sam outside under a palm tree. She stayed at home to protect her grandmother from the virus, and all she has are 2 suitcases packed 2 months ago and her bible. That's all she needs. But she misses Harlem. She is singing Grandma's Hands (Bill Withers) for her Grandmother, this is all for her. Holding up a family photo to the camera, she delivers an intimate, heart-felt performance, her vocal solid and familial, her voice strong and large in a small space. Luke says you forget you can hit those big notes and then you go, oh yeah, she can. Your voice holds up at all levels of your range. Lionel says you are beaming and shining, and you couldn't smile like that when we first started. Katy says it was big and like being in church. 

Next, Lionel Ritchie and the legendary singer/songwriter/artist/poet Stevie Wonder got together to talk about songwriting. Stevie says you have to be committed if you know you have a gift, but you can never believe you are the best in the world because that is when you lose it. When writing a great song, you have to be the character you are creating, and then the words will flow from the music. God bless the songwriters, Stevie says.

Shifting back to results, there are 2 spots left in the Top 10. Here we go with the next person who has made it into your Top 10. After the vote, it is...   Dillon James! Dillon is overwhelmed with the announcement; he didn't think he could ever get this far and tells others who have traveled similar journeys to not give up. In Bakersfield, CA, Dillon has been playing and writing songs every day, and spending time with his family because they are stuck with him. He tells Bobby it's been a silver lining in this crisis, spending time with his sister and brother, almost the way it used to be. 

Singing Yesterday (The Beatles), Dillon is in knee-less jeans, a recording deck behind him and an American flag on the wall, as he strums the guitar. His vocal is earnest and casual, his characteristic twang front and center, a stripped down performance of a classic ballad, his voice cracking at times with emotion. This was someone singing to friends and family in an intimate setting. Lionel says he has an absolute sound to his voice, identifiable, keep that in focus and be yourself. Katy says he needed to give more breath to it, it was very metronomey within the parameters and he needs to paint beyond the lines. Luke agrees and says next time, slow it down a little, relax and let the lyrics take shape and for,

Only one spot remains in the Top 10 and there are still 11 artists hoping it will be them. This is a big moment, so here we go. After the nationwide vote, taking the final spot in your Top 10, it is...   Francisco Martin! He can't believe it as his parents rush into the room, Dad with his own phone on a selfie-stick. He's shaking he's so surprised and grateful. In San Francisco, we are introduced to his mom, sister and dog. Quarantine has been hard with his mom working front-line as a nurse, which adds to his anxiety, relapsing to where he was in 2019. Idol production from home has been keeping him busy and distracted. Bobby tells him that consistency comes from believing in yourself.

Singing Falling Like The Stars (James Arthur), it reminds Francisco of when he was a kid running errands with his mom. With his upstairs landing draped with string lights like stars at night, his fingers dancing over the strings of his guitar, his voice starts out soft then breaks out into the power vocals at the chorus, the pace never pausing as he grows with each note, wearing his sincerity and honesty on his face. 

Katy is crying into her tissue after he sang about having 4 kids on each knee. Sure, it's hormones, but it's believability too, and she felt it. Luke says he's a diamond in the rough, can really get the emotion out of a song, and if he was more hormonal, he'd be crying too. Lionel is so proud of his mom being a first responder. Halfway out of that song, he flew out of his nervousness and gave us what he was all about, true talent.

With your Top 10 chosen (Jovin, Louis, Francisco, Sophia, Dillon, Arthur, Julia, Grace, Just Sam and Jonny), the remaining artists (Kimmy Gabriella, Franklin Boone, Oliva Ximines, Makayla Phillips, Aliana Jester, Faith Becnel, Nick Merico, Lauren Spencer-Smith, Cyniah Elise and DeWayne Crocker Jr.) wait to see whether the judges will use their one and only save of the season, which can only be used tonight, to turn the Top 10 into the Top 11.

Lionel, have you decided to use the Save?  Yes, we have, says Lionel. Katy, tell us the results. It was very difficult to get there, Katy says, but we have picked one Safe, and that Safe is...   Makayla Phillips!  From her back porch, she can't believe it as her mom and brother join her under the afternoon sun. She can't breath to talk. Katy says she can give the other Top 10 a run for their money vocally if she picks songs that connect with the audience. That does mean it is time to say goodbye to Kimmy, Franklin, Olivia, Aliana, Faith, Nick, Lauren, Cyniah and DeWayne. 

Now we take a look at Mikayla's time at home and her conversation with Bobby Bones. Having been home schooled since second grade, being close with family is familiar to her. All her little brother does is play video games. Her dad is a Captain with the Fire Department, a first responder and essential worker, which scares her because you never know what can happen. Bobby says every one on American Idol (and I think I can speak for America) appreciates what he is doing. She wants to show everyone a more sentimental side of her this week. This is her dream since she was 2 years old, and it doesn't matter if she's on stage in front of thousands of people or right there in her living room, her dream has come true.

Singing The House That Built Me (Miranda Lambert) on her back porch, her voice is elegant, graceful, soft and magnetic. The only negative is a family member who caught the edge of one of the camera shots, but that only reminds us of the DIY nature of these productions (you could be excused for forgetting sometimes they have done so well with limited resources). The vocal itself rang a little melancholy rather than uplifting, but it was beautifully delivered. 

Luke says he heard an amazing voice from hear early in the auditions and he's been waiting for America to hear it too, and that is why they saved her and she shared it with America. Lionel says she's a star and should keep working hard, she's headed to the stars. Katy says I was leaning into the performance and you were singing directly to me, an intimate performance, and you applied our constructive criticism from last week, you made me feel warm, cozy and loved. 

Voting is now open. You can use the AI app, the AI web site, or text to 21523: 2 for Jovin Webb, 5 for Louis Knight, 6 for Makayla Phillips, 12 for Francisco Martin, 13 for Sophia James, 15 for Dillon James, 16 for Arthur Gunn, 17 for Julia Gargano, 18 for Grace Leer, 19 for Just Sam and 20 for Jonny West. 

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