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American Idol Season 19 - The Top 12 Live


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Say You, Say Me (White Nights) is an Oscar winning song from Lionel Ritchie, and his live performance tonight sets the tone for Top 12 and Oscar Night. This is American Idol! 

Grab your popcorn and turn down the lights, we're live and going to the movies with Oscar-Nominated Songs. And these three are ready for their close-ups - it's your Idol Judges: Lionel Ritchie, Katy Perry and welcome back to Luke Bryan!

Voting is in real time for the first time this season (I apologize that I was forced to do this on DVR Delay and thus you were not able to vote), and at the end of the show, 3 of you will go home. Bobby Bones was back to mentor the idols this week.

First up is Grace Kinstler, singing Happy (Pharrell Williams) from Despicable Me 2. From the idol couches, she delivers an pop R&B vocal with plenty of attitude in her voice, making her way to the stage, strutting and swinging her hips, letting the background singers do the chorus work while blows through the versus with power and panache. You can sing the telephone book, Katy says, this was fun, enthusiastic and young, but it's not the kind of record you will make, who are you as an artist? What are you going to say? Luke says I am happy to be back, and I am happy how you command the stage, so much bravado, confidence, and vocal ability. We just want to challenge you to lock in who you are as an artist. Lionel says this lady is in absolute control of her sound, you look comfortable up stage, plus the moonwalk up the stairs was clever too. Select songs that represent who you want to be as an artist, what is your identity.

Next, Ava August sings City of Stars (Ryan Gosling/Ema Stone) from La La Land. Her voice light and lilty, the performance is missing the energetic atmosphere the song carried in the movie, maybe too many pauses in the vocal. While technically solid, it just didn't have the emotional connection that the haunting melody should have to bring you in. Luke says your moments are when like what you just did, amazing at your age to have mature and elegant moments on stage, lean on the fun but understand that what you just gave me is what slays people. Lionel says I'm not sure about your driving but about your singing I am absolutely sure, as if you had been doing this for 74 years, you've mastered the game with your voice, poise and we're talking everything in. Katy says I still have socks older than you, but I want to see you be 15, keeping it real, move and become ethereal. Find a little more youth at your high level of talent.

Next up is Caleb Kennedy, singing On The Road Again (Willie Nelson) from Honeysuckle Rose. Still with the hat, his foot-tapping acoustic playing performance features a solid, focused vocal that never quite grows with a sense of adventure and discovery, instead his voice safe and country, with three accompanying guitarists. At the end, he takes a tender turn but it felt more clinical than honestly wistful. Lionel says that song is what we've been thinking for the last year, you took on Willie Nelson at 16 having never actually been on the road yourself. Katy says you had that authentic grit and shouldn't worry about your eyes; celebrate it. When you invited us to be part of the show, that was great entertainment. Luke says you didn't over-sing yourself into trouble, best performance from top to bottom, not too challenging and done perfectly.

Next to perform is Hunter Metts, singing Falling Slowly ( Glen Hansard/Markéta Irglová) from Once. The performance is a little droopy, as if slowed down by the fog and dew of a sad morning. Accompanies on stage by a cello, the vocal is dynamic, 3D and emotional. Right at the end, something breaks into his focus  and a small laugh breaks the spell but the emotional damage is already well done. He is in tears that he flubbed the climax and he apologizes. Katy says that was the best performance you have ever done, perfection is an illusion, that's what music is, human and vulnerable and everyone relates. Incredible, you left your heart open and were so connected with the song you forgot where you were. It was intense for me to watch, Luke says, a series of emotions on a crazy ride, whatever happened at the end, you could do no wrong, those falsettos were some of the best I'd ever heard. Lionel says the crowed loved it, you may feel now it is the worst night of your life but the crowd took over, it went from a perfect run to absolutely the perfect run. Hunter still wishes he hadn't messed up. That's because you care, Ryan says.

We continue wit Madison Watkins, one of last week's Judges' Saves, singing Run To You (Whitney Houston) from The Bodyguard. Her voice is soft and elegant, strong and powerful even through her dynamic control. She delivers a passionate vocal with beautiful runs and an amazing presence. Luke says a solid performance, way to give America something to think about. Lionel said you stepped to the plate and hit it out of the park. Katy says that was an A-Level performance, you look timeless and elegant, go for the favorites and you played the favorite.

Next, all eyes are on Chayce Beckham, singing (Everything I Do) I Do It For You (Bryan Adams) from Robin Hood: Price of Thieves. His sandpaper voice front and center with his acoustic, his vocal delivers the angst and entertainment of a seasoned pro. There were small moments were had he taken it a step further, he could have delivered some real emotion but it was still great. Lionel says the first half I said you need to let go, but in the second half, you found yourself. Give us your power the whole song, you have it. Katy says there are women in the audience who think that song was for them, an unusual song choice that pushed your voice. Luke says you have grown so much, your ability to be yourself, you're the frontrunner in this thing.

The second Judges' Save last week, Beane is up next, singing (I've Had) The Time Of My Life (Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes) from Dirty Dancing. Sitting on a stool with his acoustic, the vocal was dramatic and intense, before seguing into the more familiar seductive dance beat and vocal, his voice big and inviting, happy and joyful, dropping some beat bop between versus and dance kicks. Katy says when he opened the song, it was yet another side, keeping people on the edge of their seats, the guitar. It was cool without being cheesy, in your blood and veins, you are ready for the stage and to go on tour. 

From Alyssa Wray, here is This Is Me (Keala Settle) from The Greatest Showman. Her vocal acted as well as performed confidently and expertly on stage, by the time she got to the chorus, we were already hooked and primed to believe everything she offered in this anthem and she did not disappoint expectations. A heart-stopping performance from a great showwoman. Lionel says I was praying you could hold it, you are a subtle force, the more you hold before the guns go off, when you finally delivered, we all cheered. 

Next up is Deshawn Goncalves, taking on The Way We Were (Barbara Streisand) from The Way We Were. Accompanied by a pianist and dressed in a black collared white tux, he delivers an emotion-dripped feature vocal, smoothly transitioning into an up tempo verse, then swerving into a memories roadblock, building into a powerful, emotional climax, clapping his hands once for impact and striking a pose, before holding his hand to his heart. Nervously, he faces the judges. Luke says it was beautiful, classic and so classy, like inside some time castle I want to return to. Katy says young Luther Vandross. Luke says I was caught up in your moment.

Casey Bishop takes us back in time with her take on Over The Rainbow (Judy Garland) from The Wizard of Oz. Rather than take the more modern feel-good approach, she goes old school, starting with original opening lyrics setting the stage for a classic, beautiful vocal beyond her years, a stage performance par excellence, powerful, real, moving and nostalgic all wrapped up with a rainbow. OMG, says Lionel. Yes, says Katy, you can do anything you want and you switched it up toward the end, you can sing Judy, rock, standards, you're my front runner. Luke says we can't figure out who is going to win, and what you just did, another page in your book. Keep singing anything you want, keep us guessing, keep surprising. Lionel says that was one of my favorite Disney songs (it's not a Disney song) and you Caserized it, you took charge of it, wondering what kind of DNA you have at 16 to have such control over your delivery.

Next is Cassandra Coleman, singing Writing's On The Wall (Sam Smith) from Spectre. She jumps head first into this vocal performance, with a dramatic open leading into a suspenseful, confident, magical performance. You would never have known this was a song from a Bond movie just from the performance - it was too dramatic and powerful. Luke says wow, ugh, you went into that moment of the cry, one of the most amazing things on this show, you have fans who have your back and tonight you rewarded them for it. Lionel says it's the cry, you bring us in, your poise, your positioning, your confidence, your ability to let go. I've got 5 winners already and you're one of them. Katy says never forget you are not what the world thinks of you but what you think of you.

Last to perform is Willie Spence, singing Stand Up (Willie Spence) from the Harriet. At the open, the background vocals and band were more dramatic than his vocal, but that did not last long as he began exercising his powerful pipes to pump an emotional, meaningful performance, leading his audience on a journey of inner discovery to the promised land. Lionel says Amen. Religious Experience. You delivered the goods. Katy says I stand with you, that was so powerful, taking all of the emotion of the week and putting it into that song, cutting through the darkness. Luke says you taught me to never use the word Frontrunner until the whole show is done. Amazing.

Voting closes after this next commercial break (or it would have if I hadn't been posting this on DVR Delay). Three idols will be leaving tonight based on your live votes.

Voting is now closed and I have the results right here. Nine people will move on in the hopes of becoming your next American Idol. Good luck to all of you. Dim the lights, here we go.

After the nationwide vote, coast to coast, the first person to make it through, in no particular order, is...   Grace Kinstler!

The second person moving through in the competition, after the nationwide vote, is...   Casey Bishop!

Next to advance, based on your vote tonight, coast to coast live, is...   Willie Spence!

Also in your Top 9, on the way to Disney World, is...  Alyssa Wray!

The next person whose dream lives on is...   Caleb Kennedy!

America, you also have chosen...   (a very surprised) Deshawn Goncalves!

And congratulations to the pride of Apple Valley...  Chayce Beckham!

We're down to the final 2 spots. And after the nationwide real-time vote...  Cassandra Coleman gets one of those spots!

The remaining contestants are Ava August, Madison Watkins, Hunter Metts and Beane. Please come to the center stage. Only one spot remains. 

The final person moving forward in the competition tonight is...  Hunter Metts!

This is your Top 9, America. Pack your bags for Disney World: Grace Kinstler, Caleb Kennedy, Hunter Metts, Chayce Beckham, Alyssa Wray, Deshawn Goncalves, Casey Bishop, Cassandra Coleman and Willie Spence!

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