It was another awesome night of competition on American Idol as the second set of ten contestants paired up with celebrity singers to vie for a spot in the Top 14.
Unfortunately, for the first time since the show began, host Ryan Seacrest called in sick and surrendered the hosting duties to radio personality Bobby Bones. Fortunately though, all three of this season’s incredible judges—Luke Bryan, Katy Perry, and Lionel Richie—were healthy, present, and ready for a great night of music.
And they got it. With a celebrity lineup that included Lukas Graham, Lovelytheband, Cynthia Erivo, Ben Harper, Julia Michaels, and Chris Isaak, a bar was set.
And 16-year-old Alyssa Raghu stepped up to it. Singing “Issues” with the song’s original artist, Julia Michaels, the match couldn’t have been more suitable and seamless. In fact, with eyes closed, it was difficult to distinguish the two.
Following the performance, Katy told Alyssa, “That was such a fresh take. I thought that you and Julia were feeding off of each other in some ways and then you did some alternative melodies that were so good. And for you to be brave enough to have that much freedom in your voice while you’re singing with the artist that wrote it and sang it, it’s really cool.”
Fan favorite Eddie Island was next in the rehearsal room with Lukas Graham to work up their version of “Seven Years.” And the quirkiness of Eddie’s vocal suited both the song and Lukas’ authentic sound.
“I love the fact that that song landed with you. That’s the perfect fit for what we’re wanting out of you, and when I saw that on there, I’m like, he’s gonna crush that,” Luke told him after. “You did a great job. To stand up there with Lukas is not an easy task and you really complemented each other very well. And you still kinda had your Eddie Island mojo going on, but you were hitting the notes, so good job.”
Wade Cota seemed to take it in stride that he was singing lovelytheband’s No. 1 hit, “Broken,” with the actual artist, but perhaps it was because he and lead vocalist Mitchy Collins connected on a visceral level after learning they had similar backgrounds.
Lionel spoke to Wade first and teased him a bit “You have a voice to be reckoned with, my friend. It is so powerful, so strong, but tonight I actually saw some choreography. Did I not detect you dancing,” he joked. Lionel went on to say, “I am so happy that we’re at that stage of the competition where you are feeling comfortable with you. And that voice of yours is so identifiable. You’re going places, my friend.”
Cynthia Erivo may not have been a name common to everyone, but Ryan Hammond was certainly honored to stand next to the Emmy, Grammy, and Tony winner. And the two put a funk on Sam and Dave’s “Hold On, I’m Comin’” that made it their own.
“The fact that you never heard that song, and you did what you did tonight, applause to you,” Lionel told him. “Your voice is on its way to stardom, just relax in this ride. We have all the faith and trust in you. You’re going to be somebody.”
Celebrity duet night was a bit of a redo for Evelyn Cormier. She had performed “Wicked Game” during her audition, but this time around, she had the assistance of the song’s original artist and writer, Chris Isaak.
Following their performance, Katy told Evelyn, “It was so sophisticated and sultry and intimate and really embodying that emotion of that song. I mean, the way that you presented it and the way that you guys kind of locked while you were singing it, it was just so beautiful. I believed every word that you were singing. It’s just an it factor that you can’t learn or buy. You just got it.”
During the first night of celebrity duets, Riley Thompson sang a duet for the first time in her young singing career, and for night two it was Logan Johnson’s first time to duet. During rehearsals with Julia Michaels, he admitted to nerves, but when they hit the stage with “What a Time,” he seemed a bit more at ease, and their harmonies were seamless.
“Logan, always take every opportunity you can for your vocals to really, really push through,” Luke advised him. “You have that high-end tenor, just push a little more for me, so we can really hang on to every note. But the whole vibe of the song was really, really solid. Great job, Bud.”
The energy between Raquel Trinidad and lovelytheband’s lead singer was so fun that it seemed inevitable their performance of “Tiny Dancer” would be magical. In fact, lead singer Mitchy Collins encouraged Raquel to free her vocal runs and go wild.
The advice seemed to serve her, but Lionel also had a tidbit for her. “From now on whenever you sing a duet or whenever you perform, period, look at this audience. Look at us. Because I was dying for you to just one time catch the [eye]. Understand, we are waiting for you to love us,” he told her.
Ben Harper didn’t hesitate to perform with Alejandro Aranda. He had seen the Idol contestant perform at his family’s California music shop and was so blown away, he sacrificed skateboarding time to perform his song, “There Will Be a Light,” with the young man. Accompanying themselves on guitars, the judges were immediately impressed, giving them a standing ovation at the end.
“Man, you’re so tasteful with your approach,” Luke told him. “We love the character that you bring, this quiet, gentle person that lets the music do all the talking for him.”
Dimitrius Graham shared his story of a difficult childhood with duet partner Lukas Graham only to find out that the Grammy-nominee had also had a challenging youth. And that made their song selection of “Love Someone” even more poignant. And once again, the judges were on the edges of their seats, enthralled with their silky harmonies.
Katy went out on a limb and told the young singer, “I’m going to go so far as to say that was the best sounding duet I’ve heard today. And I’m so proud that you have taken our advice, our constructive criticism every step of the way. You did not overdo it. It was perfect.”
And Dimitrius walked off the stage with tears in his eyes.
The final performance of the night showcased Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon and Cynthia Erivo singing Cindy Lauper’s “Time After Time.” In the rehearsal room, Jeremiah practically sparkled with the excitement of singing with the Broadway star who said his voice “floats out of him.” When they hit the stage, it was obvious the bond they had established.
“It was like you guy’s souls were singing to each other,” Katy said at the end. “You are just very timeless. Your voice, it’s so mature. I’m so glad you went for that last run at the end because it showed the power of your voice. You’ve got crazy range and never forget to show that off. It was a spiritual moment for me.
It was another night of spectacular talent, making it increasingly difficult for the judges to eliminate three of the contestants. But that was their challenge and they came through.
As the final names for the Top 14 were called, it was Evelyn, Dimitrius, Jeremiah, Alyssa, Wade, Eddie, and Alejandro that moved forward in the competition. That meant Ryan, Raquel, and Logan were going home.
Those seven, combined with the previous night’s seven makes up the Top 14:
Laci Kaye Booth
Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon
On April 14, the first round of fan-voted competition begins. Tune in to pick your favorite and cast a vote. And speedy recovery to Ryan.