After a hilarious opening that featured judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie marching and singing “Heigh-Ho” from Disney’s Snow White, it was apparent that ABC’s American Idol contestants would be taking on the songs from favorite Disney films. Joining host Ryan Seacrest to kick-off the night were the grand masters of ceremonies, Mickey and Minnie Mouse. Of course, it was hard to outdo Katy who, while dressed thematically almost every week, took it up a notch dressing as “Ursula” from The Little Mermaid.
Before the singing began, Ryan explained that voting would happen in real time and that at the end of the evening, two contestants were at risk of leaving. However, the judges have the power to save one of the singers. Now, the “save” can only be used once in the entire season and the judges must decide unanimously. Yikes!
As if things weren’t lively enough, actress Rebel Wilson was in-house to coach the contestants through their Disney adventure, and Carrie Underwood sent a special “good luck” to the remaining performers. In addition, the Top 10 joined Lea Michele for a special performance of “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid and last season’s winner, Maddie Poppe and runner-up Caleb Lee Hutchinson sang “A Whole New World” from Aladdin.
And, just to remind viewers that it wasn’t long ago that these aspiring stars were back in their hometowns dreaming, family members flew to the west coast to surprise many of the contestants at Disneyland and also got to see them perform.
The evening went as follows:
Uché performed “I 2 I” from A Goofy Movie.
KATY: “I thought it was good. I have to be completely honest. I don’t know that song very well, but I see you as that goofy, adorable character, and I love the kind of magic you bring to the stage. I just thought you had a little more voice.”
LIONEL: “Uché, I love you and you can’t do any wrong. The truth is, the song wasn’t that familiar, and that’s OK. I don’t care about that. The point is, you’re a performer, and I’m going to lean on that as long as I live. You know how to take ‘Three Blind Mice’ and turn it into something where I go, ‘Oh my god, that’s amazing.’”
LUKE: “Bottom line is, it’s not detrimental that we don’t know the song. You come out here and you always give the same amount of energy. No matter what song it is, you make it an Uché song and you did that tonight.”
Bonus: a tuxedoed Goofy joined Uché and Ryan on stage.
Laci Kaye Booth performed “I See the Light” from Tangled.
LUKE: “You’re becoming a Disney princess in front of our eyes. You just have an incredible knack to make every song yours and your subtle delivery is so real and so honest.”
LIONEL: “If ever there was a perfect song for you, that was the perfect song, perfect delivery. Enjoy where you are right now because you’re on a roll.”
KATY: “I agree with Luke on so many different things. I think that you really made this song your own. Your voice has got its own stamp, its own texture. It’s instantly identifiable and I also think you do look like a true Disney princess and you have, obviously stolen Cinderella’s shoes.”
Alejandro Aranda performed “Remember Me” from Coco.
LIONEL: “What’s so amazing about you is that you embody what I call true artistry. You can take a song, make it your style, bring us in, take us all the way on the journey. You manage to take us on a journey every time you perform. I’m so proud of you.”
KATY: “I just love you so much. I think that everything that you do is so heartfelt and I can feel the emotion always coming out of you. Whatever happens, I will remember you forever and you’ll never be forgotten. I think this has been an incredible journey for you and I think this is just the beginning.”
LUKE: “I think what’s so tricky about you, Alejandro, is this show is forcing you outside your comfort zone. We heard some lower notes for the first time out of you… great job, buddy.”
Alyssa Raghu performed “Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas.
KATY: “Beauty and grace. Such elegance. That was so beautiful and elegant.”
LUKE: “Way to come out here and fight after surviving last week. You’re going to be in the music business, you’re fighting every week of your life anyway, so get used to it and make it happen like you did on the stage tonight.”
LIONEL: “I know this is not a beauty contest, but you look absolutely beautiful. We have come a long way with your journey and from last year, you fought back to this year and now you’re fighting, but I tell you, you’re the most gorgeous fighter.”
Wade Cota performed “You’ve Got a Friend In Me” from Toy Story.
LUKE: “The whole time I was watching your performance, I was thinking, what a glimpse into the future of what you can potentially be because of your voice. It’s such a character voice and way to pick the right song. I’m laughing because you were like a heavy, death metal singer at one time and now you’re out here delivering that song in character and making it a very special moment. Great job.”
LIONEL: “What I’m loving about you is I think we’re noticing you’re having fun. You’re a star. You have that identifiable voice. In less than five seconds, we know. That’s what you look for in this business. The sky is the limit.”
KATY: “It was fantastic. What a fantastic song choice. You’re so approachable, you’re so relatable with that song and little ‘Andy’ on your foot, that was such a cool thing. It was a great song. I think you did Randy Newman so proud.”
Bonus: Wade had “Andy” written on the bottom of one of his shoes, like “Woody” from the movie.
Dimitrius Graham performed “You’ll Be In My Heart” from Tarzan.
LIONEL: “We love you. Your journey has been amazing. And all I can say to the fans out there is just vote because your heart and soul are in everything you do.”
KATY: “Dimitrius, you have an incredible instrument of a voice and it’s grown so much with us. I really love that song choice. I thought you geared it up and you took us on a ride and it wasn’t too much. It was just enough and it was really emotional, and I really felt you.”
LUKE: “I saved him. I saved him. I saved him. We have really picked your voice apart on this show and in your performances we’ve heard little notes that you’ve missed along the way. You did not miss one note on a very, very challenging song.”
Walker Burroughs performed “When She Loved Me” from Toy Story 2.
KATY: “That was so impressive. You really transported me to a different time and place. You feel the audience get so quiet and really respectful of you telling that story. We tuned into every single word.”
LUKE: “I hope America understands how difficult it is to do what you just did. To play piano, to hit the notes, to twin notes on the piano with what you’re singing. There were chords that I don’t even know how you’re hitting them and you’re 20-years-old, and it’s something that a seasoned veteran does and you just did them here in front of millions of people.”
LIONEL: “We call you, in our business, a pro. That is about as close to a perfect performance as I can think of.”
Madison VanDenburg performed “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana.
LUKE: “Can you just try to make it look difficult, please, for me, Lionel, and Katy? Great job. And we’ve heard that song done a lot and you just surpassed any version I’ve heard.”
LIONEL: “All I’m going to say to you is, what was that last note because that was the stratosphere of notes. I love you so much. The talent is so amazing.”
KATY: “When you came out here, I was like, what happened? She’s really stepped into her power. You look so gorgeous, number one, and you were climbing the mountain of so many notes, I was like, when is it going to stop? I can’t believe it. Do these notes even exist? You were great!”
Laine Hardy performed “Oo-De-Lally” from Robin Hood.
LIONEL: “You have found your wheelhouse. Hometown boy, hand-clapping, foot-stomping, perfect song. I mean, as far as I’m concerned, that was straight down the alley. Congratulations.”
KATY: “Remember when I said you could win it this time? Don’t not believe that.”
LUKE: “What did I tell you last year in New Orleans? You better be careful or you might win American Idol.”
Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon performed “Candle On the Water” from Pete’s Dragon.
KATY: “Jeremiah, you hit that note at the end with such gorgeous ease. It was so fantastic. It’s been an incredible journey for you and it’s such a pleasure to see you sing every single time. You really have grown by such leaps and bounds.”
LUKE: “You are a pro. You have never looked like you were not in complete control or comfort. We’re sitting here just sitting back, relaxed because we know you’re going to deliver week in and week out.”
LIONEL: “I’m not exaggerating. We are watching one of the greatest shows ever. The performances here tonight have been amazing, but you, my friend, are just owning your talent.”
With the final votes being submitted and then tabulated during a commercial break, America chose the Top 8:
Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon
Laci Kaye Booth
With Uché and Dimitrius Graham remaining, the judges chose to save their “save” for a future episode making it the end of the road for the two talented young men.