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American Idol Season 19 - Disney Night!


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The Idols are finally here. Is everybody ready to have fun? Fantastic! Come on, follow me. We're going to Disney World! There's no telling how far they'll go. This is Disney Night and this is American Idol!

We open with Sofia Carson, singing A Whole New World. She is joined by your Top 9 idols: Grace Kinstler, Caleb Kennedy, Hunter Metts, Chayce Beckham, Alyssa Wray, Deshawn Goncalves, Casey Bishop, Cassandra Coleman and Willie Spence. The 10th idol making to the live shows from your 2020 Comeback Performances will be revealed tonight!

Please welcome your host, Ryan Seacrest. And your Idol Judges, Luke Bryan, Katy Perry (dressed as Tinkerbell) and the one and only Lionel Ritchie! Tonight, each idol will perform one song from the Disney Songbook. 

But first, last week 10 idols from the 2020 season who never got the chance to perform live on the big stage not only got that chance but the opportunity to win your votes to be included in this week's Top 10. And the idol making the best comeback in the history of comebacks is...   Arthur Gunn!

Voting is open now as performances begin and throughout the show until the last commercial break, at which time for 3 of the idols, their dreams will not come true. So if you believe in your idols, clap three times and be sure to vote!

In addition to visiting Walt Disney World over the last week, the idols were mentored by John Stamos (star of the Disney+ smash hoops series Big Shot). Watch this...

We start with Caleb Kennedy, singing Real Gone (Cars). Practicing in front of Cinderella's Castle, Stamos tells Caleb to pick a point in the song to lock eyes with each judge. His mom surprises him at the rehearsal and tears ensue. They take some convertibles swimming and a ride on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The performance is made for Caleb's heart-of-country voice, and he's a natural jammin' on stage with the band. His eyes are still hidden under his ball cap, so if he followed the eye-contact advice, I didn't see it. For sure, Caleb will win the country vote, not to mention Cars fans. 

Katy says Caleb, this is really peter-panning out for you, you have real fire - in your vocal and on the stage, real energy, that song was infectious. Luke says you are really giving us a glimpse of who you are as an artist, kicking the show off with that energy, it's what live performing is about. Lionel says for just a brief moment, you smiled. I know you are enjoying this, the energy radiated off the stage.

Second up is Willie Spence, singing Circle of Life from The Lion King. The last time Willie was at Disney World, his late grandfather had taken him. John encourages him to fold that circle of life into the song, and to let that smile shine. Willie is missing his family at Disney's Animal Kingdom but not for long as Mom & Dad surprise him on the Kilimanjaro Safari. 

Standing on the stage in the middle of the sun on the floor, the goose bumps begin right when his vocal starts, his eyes wistful and moist, the dawn rising behind him, his soulful voice ringing out is a thing of beauty, power and control, as big as the sun behind him. Luke says I am in, you just made me feel alive in your circle of life, you have the magic, that scream you heard from the audience, you'll be hearing that the rest of your life when you hit those big notes. Lionel asks why was he crying on The Lion King? You can make the phone book yours - you're a true stylus, your delivery, how you build. Katy says he's not a lost boy anymore, he's a bona fide Idol, the arrangement was sparkly and magnificent, and when you get away from the mic stand and work the camera, it was spiritual.

Jiminy Cricket, we continue with Deshawn Goncalves, singing When You Wish Upon A Star from Pinocchio. After meeting Minnie and Mickey seeking tips from Pinocchio himself, he meets John in the bathroom before starting their session in the Magic Kingdom. The arrangement is jazzy and up tempo, and John encourages him to sing out and project his voice. 

One the piano and with brass and sax accompaniment, Deshawn opens with the first verse that nobody remembers, then grabs the mic and steps onto the stage with a big band jazz rendition that could be the centerpiece of a Disney Jazz Standards CD. His voice is smooth, sophisticated, entertaining, and just plain happy. Lionel asks who are you really? You are getting more revealing of your ability to tickle the ivories but the show business move with the mic, that's hard to morph into, it takes a real digging down deep to nail that and you did it. Katy says I just met you for the very first time, it was so natural, a whole new level at the very end, I cannot lie, real true growth and not in the nose. Luke says I was grinning so big watching, how proud your family must be watching you blossom. You are not the same person who first auditioned.

Next is Casey Bishop, getting emotional with When She Loved Me from Toy Story 2. Wearing Toy Story mouse ears, John suggests changing the key higher and her sweet spots gave him the chills. After a ride in the Tea Cups, her step dad and brother surprise her in Toy Story Land in Disney's Hollywood Studios and she gets some tips from Woody and Jessie.

With images playing on the face of the piano, Casey's vocal is soft and misty-eyed from the start, her natural highs dripping in yesterday, her voice cracking with emotion at the low notes, and carrying the audience every step of the way. You could hear a pin drop as she tells this sad, wistful tale of better times. Katy says your vocals will take you to infinity and beyond, you've been showing so many different colors of who you are as an artist, from rock to sophistication, grace on stage, you an do anything if only you believe. Luke says you are a superstar in the making, rolling into the show not knowing what you were, you gave me chill bumps. Lionel says your grace beyond your years, we can't coach stage presence, poise and delivery, you have that naturally.

Next up is Chayce Beckham, digging into the vault for Baby Mine from Dumbo. John does not like sharing the stage with better looking guides. A huge Star Wars geek, he flew the Millennium Falcon hands solo in Disney's Hollywood Studios. This was his first visit to Disneyland and he explored Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom, riding Big Thunder Mountain and Expedition Everest. His aunts used to call him Dumbo as a child because he had big trophy ears. John suggests he starts the song super slow to get the audience to buy into the truth of the performance. 

On the big stage with just a steel guitar, his voice is soulful, honest and rasp with emotional honey. The tempo picks up and grabs a foot-tapping country beat, and the song no longer sounds like it was from a classic movie, a completely original, heartfelt composition. Lionel says massive props for bringing the steel guitar to the stage, that performance was so you, your artistry is not about overdoing it but delivering an amazing song and making retro-cool moments. Lionel says stop thinking about being here at American Idol because you are here at American Idol, your voice, talent and style is how you got here. Katy says you took a lullaby and made it a cool song, like a Goo Goo Dolls song. You just need a little faith, trust and Pixie Dust!

Continuing on, it is Alyssa Way, singing A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes from Cinderella. It's also her first time at Disney World and she saw all the princesses she used to dress up as when a kid, and now Cinderella personally hopes all her dreams come true. At Epcot, riding King Arthur's Royal Carousel, riding the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, John tells her she's already won. It's a deep lyric, he says, and she has to make sure she connects with it. He tells her to get the chatter of your head, to fight for your chance. 

I don't normally mention women's clothing because it's so chauvinistic, but her dress of shimmering light is drop-dead gorgeous, complimented by her back-lit hair. Opening A Capella, her voice is equally dazzling, light and puffy as if the live background music at a dinner venue, picturesque and full of volume and movement. There is no rushing at the stroke of midnight, her aria soars with power and passion and determination, delivering a huge climax ending. Lionel says he has to go back and watch the movie to make sure she wasn't in it - that dress is on fire. I was praying that you would hold it and let us in because the gift was at the end when your personality came out, and you did it and it was amazing. Katy says the control was unlike anything you've done, elegant and elevated, bibbity boppity boo, you will never turn back into a pumpkin. Luke says it is so fun to watch you blossom into a work of art, from presentation to delivery, you held us then showed us the perfect notes at the perfect time.

When I saw this song on the play list, I was hoping it would be Arthur Gunn performing Remember Me from Coco. He did not get a chance to go Disney World but did have remote one-on-one time with John Stamos. Naturally, he's changed the arrangement to be more bright and hopeful, and John tells him to make sure the song keeps the emotion. He hasn't actually seen the movie, and John urges him to watch it and then decide how to play it. Nama Staymos, John tells him.

With the stage dripping in colorful petals, he delivers his own up-beat take on the Oscar-winning song, a message urging those at home to not forget him. His character vocal gruffness is put to perfect use as he even introduces a brass interlude. He could have gone for the emotional pull of the original song, but instead he went with his instincts and gave the song new meaning. I don't know if it was the right call - I like Arthur but he has become kind of a one-trick-pony, with each performance starting to sound the same instead of growing as an artist and performer. 

Katy says we didn't forget you, that was one of your best performances, the delivery, the notes, the enunciation, Dave Matthews Band style notes. You are Arthur Gunn through and through. Luke says it was so authentically what we were used to seeing from you, your style, your vocal tones, the confidence to stick to your Arthur Gunns when John Stamos suggests you change it, that's pretty amazing. Lionel says it is the greatest part of being a stylist when you an make any song yours, own your voice and sound. 

We interrupt Disney Night for an homage to a Pixar movie that just won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature and Best Score, here is John Batist with his original song, It's All Right from Soul!

We return to the competition with Cassandra Coleman hoping to Go The Distance from Hercules. Star Wars is everything her life is about, but seeing her sister and brother-in-law was even more exciting than being stopped by Stormtroopers on Batuu. They rode Rise of the Resistance before she joined John Stamos in the Magic Kingdom. John tells her she's a natural performer and deserves to be there in the Top 10. 

Her vocal is dramatic and lofty, cathedral-like, soaring into chorus, trembling with determination and urgency. She even dressed the part, going Greek, delivering huge power vocals and delivering on her hidden strength. Though personally, I like Zero To Hero from the movie better. Luke says that was your most solid vocal from top to bottom, the most comfortable you have been in the moment, and it showed up in your vocal. Lionel says it was an amazing, solid performance, the clarity in your vocal. Katy says you leaned into the theme and I love it, your confidence has gone from Zero to Hero for sure, and you left yoru doubts in the fairy dust, becoming the star I think you are going to be. 

Next up is Hunger Metts, swinging in with You'll Be In My Heart from Tarzan. John gets right to the two hearts of the matter, asking him the lyrics to Falling Slowly. Don't be haunted, John tells him. This is his mom's favorite song and John gives him some delivery tips. He misses his family, for whom Walt Disney World was a family tradition, and behind a bunch of Mickey balloons, they magically appear on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. Recreating memories form their childhood was like time traveling. 

With a shy smile and a goofy grin, he delivers a tender vocal, his voice small and comforting, a lullaby for the inner child in all of us. It was sweet and genuine, the perfect Disney version of a Disney song. And the end, he stops the guitar and focuses solely on delivering an emotional climax. Lionel says that's what I was waiting on, what you fear the most, to get emotional, but you heard the crowd when you did and that's what it's all about. Enjoy the stage. Katy says it was great to see you smiling on stage, grounded and centered, you really swung that one, especially when you went of it at the end, took the leap. Keep doing that. Luke says you were reluctant to go there when you first started, but now you are willing to go there, your voice is recognizable when you expand your voice and go for it.

The final performance of the night comes from Grace Kinstler, who goes full-on Elsa with Into The Unknown from Frozen 2. She rides Frozen Ever After, of course, and is a kid in front of Cinderella's Castle and meeting characters who are strong female role models. John asks her why this song and she says it describes her Idol journey, taking big risks for big rewards. John says keep practicing and blocking out even the smallest negative thought. Just do that, I have nothing else to tell you, he says after she finishes.

Glittering in the stage lit ice crystals, she jumps right into the performance, her voice solid and in control, a snow twinkle in her eye,  dynamic and growing with intensity until she unleashes the power vocal chorus. Then she switches tracks and puts in some empowerment attitude, then letting loose again for that power chorus. This was a masterful production worthy of any stage. 

Katy says Oh My Goddess! Grace, it's like you had a magic wand in your voice and the smoke was swirling and you were moving the energy and then the lights and thunder and you had the whole room controlled with your voice. Luke says you walked to the mic with a look in your eye that you were going to slay this and there was never any doubt, and you had the eye of the tiger and you went beyond. To the unknown, Katy adds. Lionel says John said it best - just do that.

This vote is now closed and it is time for your results. Three idols will now leave the competition based on your votes. The idols are now on the stage and in no particular order, it is time to build you Top 7. Dim the lights, here we go.

After the nationwide vote, live coast to coast, the first person to make it into the Top 7 is...   Chayce Beckham!

The second person moving forward in the competition after the live vote is...   Casey Bishop!

Based on your live vote tonight, the next person to make it through to your Top 7 is going to be...   Willie Spence!

Who will join these three in the Top 7? It's going to be...   Hunter Metts!

America, you have also chosen after that nationwide vote live here tonight...   Caleb Kennedy!

Two more spots to fill, five contestants want them, who will it be? Some Disney Magic for Grace Kinstler!

We're down to Deshawn, Alyssa, Arthur and Cassandra. Only one spot remains. The final person moving forward in the competition tonight, after the live coast-to-coast real-time vote is...   Arthur Gunn!

That means we say goodbye to Deshawn Goncalves, Alyssa Wray and Cassandra Coleman. I now present your Top 7: Celeb Kennedy, Willie Spence, Casey Bishop, Chayce Beckham, Arthur Gunn, Hunter Metts and Grace Kinstler. One of these will be your next American Idol. Who would you pick?

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