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American Idol Recap: Sophia Wackerman Earns Standing Ovation, Judges Select Top 40

Will you watch next week when Idol goes to Hawaii?

Written by Tammy Ragusa
American Idol Recap: Sophia Wackerman Earns Standing Ovation, Judges Select Top 40
AMERICAN IDOL - "308 (Hollywood Week)" - "American Idol"'s Hollywood Week wraps MONDAY, MARCH 23 (8:00-10:00 p.m. EDT), on ABC, as contestants continue to vie for their chance at stardom. In the final episode of a tough Hollywood Week, Idol hopefuls battle it out with solo performances, showcasing their unique voices and star power in hopes of advancing to the next round of the competition, taking place at Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii. Tune in to see an unprecedented medical emergency, Katy lose it with the contestants and whether or not the remaining couple's love will survive the latest elimination. (ABC/Eric McCandless) SOPHIA WACKERMAN

If tension got any higher inside the historical Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles, it would have gone up in flames, but the Solo Round of American Idol was a big one. The solo performances determined who would make it into the Top 40 of season 18.

Fortunately, host Ryan Seacrest had an ace in the hole for the young singers. He brought in season 17 runner-up and fan favorite Alejandro Aranda to help calm nerves and offer advice.

Judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie also had a bit of sound advice before the singers took the stage and that included cautioning the contestants against performing original songs. “It’s all about song choice,” Katy said with Luke adding, “Picking the right song is so critical, because if they can’t pick out songs to impress us, they certainly can’t pick out songs to record in the future.”

A lot of the contestants were folding under the pressure. They were sick from too many late nights of rehearsal and were over compensating by trying too hard. It got so bad that, at one point, Katy couldn’t take it anymore. “I just told them to calm down,” she said.

In spite of fair warning, there were still many artists who insisted on performing original material. Fortunately, the following singer-songwriters made it through to the Top 40:

ROBERT TAYLOR

  • Performed an original song

LIONEL: “That was the wrong song. That did not work.”

  • Advances to Hawaii

AMELIA JOYCE

  • Performed an original song

LUKE: “She sings great, it’s really about songs.”

  • Advances to Hawaii

JULIA GARGANO

  • Performed an original song

KATY: “It’s just not a song that holds me.”

  • Advances to Hawaii

LAUREN MASCITTI

  • Performed an original song (“God Made a Woman”) inspired by her nana

Judges were floored.

LIONEL: “That was a strong song.”

KATY: “She has so much potential, but she’s definitely got some competition.”

  • Advances to Hawaii

JIMMY LEVY

  • Performed an original song

KATY: “That was disappointing.”

  • Did not advance

DILLON JAMES

Recovering addict, two years sober

  • Performed an original song
  • Advances to Hawaii

JONNY WEST

Girlfriend, Margie Mayes, is also in the competition

  • Performed an original song
  • Advances to Hawaii

There were also multiple multiples – groups of contestants who were singing the same popular song. The following four singers all performed Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”:

CYNIAH ELISE

  • Advances to Hawaii

GEENA FONTANELLA

  • Advances to Hawaii

YZTHASINGER

  • Did not advance

OLIVIA XIMINES

  • Advances to Hawaii

These singers both sang “I’m Here” from the musical version of The Color Purple:

KIMMY GABRIELA

  • In her audition, Lionel told her she was Top 10 material

KATY: “I want to figure out who she is as an artist, but I feel like she’s Top 10.”

  • Advances to Hawaii

JUST SAM

  • Had been sick – sore throat and laryngitis – but nailed it.
  • Advances to Hawaii

And these two singers both performed “Always Remember Us This Way” by Lady Gaga during the broadcast:

KAT LUNA

  • Her boyfriend, Alec Garrido was eliminated in the Duets Round
  • Did not advance

CAMRYN LEIGH SMITH

  • Did not advance

To be fair, there were plenty of contestants who heeded the judge’s advice and delivered solid covers of recognizable songs that they made their own with thoughtfulness and creativity.

GENAVIEVE LINKOWSKI

Had previously auditioned and made it to Hollywood before she was cut.

  • Performed “In My Blood” by Shawn Mendes
  • Advances to Hawaii

JOVIN WEBB

PERRIN YORK

“The caliber of the band is so high, you get one run-through.”

  • Performed “Good As Hell” by Lizzo
  • Advances to Hawaii

JEB VONDERBRUEGGE

  • Performed “Rocket Man” by Elton John
  • Advances to Hawaii

ARTHUR GUNN

  • Performed “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival (revised from auditions)

Band didn’t have time to learn the arrangement, so his performance was acoustic.

  • Advances to Hawaii

SOPHIA WACKERMAN

Roommates with Sarah

  • Performed “Somewhere” from West Side Story

Standing ovation from the judges

  • Advances to Hawaii

SARAH ISEN

Roommates with Sophia

  • Performed “Light On” by Maggie Rogers
  • Did not advance

FRANKLIN BOONE

Related to Alejandro’s quiet personality and was surprised he was still in the competition

  • Performed “River” by Leon Bridges
  • Advances to Hawaii

LAUREN SPENCER-SMITH

Had never heard the song she sang until the night before her performance

LOUIS KNGHT

Struggling with the loss of his best friend to suicide

  • Performed “Hold Me While You Wait” by Lewis Capaldi
  • Advances to Hawaii

MAKAYLA PHILLIPS

  • Performed “‘Cause I Love You” by Lizzo

KATY: “That was the worst song she could have picked.”

LUKE: “It was.”

  • Advances to Hawaii

MARGIE MAYES

Boyfriend, Jonny West, is also in the competition

  • Performed “Lost Without You” by Freya Ridings
  • Did not advance

The night wasn’t without a heart wrenching bit of drama, though.

MIKAYLA BROWNLEE

Became disoriented on stage and walked off. She has a heart condition – vasovagal syncope – which can be triggered by stress. She returned later that day and gave a stirring performance.

Received a standing ovation from the judges

  • Advances to Hawaii

After the competition, the remaining contestants were divided into three groups where they waited to learn their fate. At the end of the night, the competition was cut down to 40 singers who would continue to the first showcase in Hawaii. In addition to those noted above, the following singers are going to Showcase Rounds in Hawaii:

DEVON ALEXANDER
BILAAL AVAZ
FAITH BECNEL
DEWAYNE CROCKER, JR.
AMBER FIEDLER
TRAVIS FINLAY
SHANNON GIBBONS
CAMERON HAVENS
NATALIE JANE
ALIANA JESTER
JORDAN JONES
GRACE LEER
GRACE LUNDY
FRANCISCO MARTIN
NICK MERICO
DEMIE RAE MORENO
ELYJUH RENE
EMMA VALENTINE

Unfortunately, after the March 29 and 30 Hawaii rounds, the remainder of the American Idol season is up-in-the-air as taping was suspended due to the coronavirus.