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'American Idol' recap: Top 16 give emotional performances after shocking fan vote results

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Did your favorite "American Idol" contestant make the top 16?

That was the question on fans' minds during Sunday night's episode, which saw host Ryan Seacrest reveal the results of America's vote for the first time this season.

Of the 24 competitors, only 16 could move on to the next phase of the competition. And the episode played up the suspense, with Seacrest announcing one-by-one who was safe throughout the night. Upon finding out they made the next round, each successful contestant sang once more for judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan — as well as for fans at home, who will vote overnight for whom they want in the top 12.

Fans can vote on americanidol.com/vote, the "American Idol" app or via text message.

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Here's what went down, from the nail-biting eliminations to the show-stopping performances.

Alyssa Wray

The group of singers to find out their results first were the 12 contestants who performed last Sunday. College student Alyssa Wray, 19, got her good news first and launched into a performance of “Killing Me Softly” by The Fugees.

The judges praised the theatrical singer for giving a more grounded performance.

"That was totally a vibe," Perry. said. "You were actually an artist for the first time in my eyes today."

Richie called Wray "stellar," and Bryan complimented her for making the song her own.

If you want to see Wray keep killing it softly in the top 12, text 3 to 21523.

Graham DeFranco

Aerial survey pilot Graham DeFranco, 28, followed Wray into the top 16, offering a groovy, smooth rendition of Frank Sinatra's "That's Life."

Bryan said that DeFranco has a "timeless voice" — and that what's endearing about him is that he "can’t believe he’s here."

Richie agreed. "I’m loving the fact that you’re really enjoying this ride," the judge said.

If you'd like DeFranco's ride on "Idol" to continue, text 8 to 21523.

Grace Kinstler

College student Grace Kinstler, 20, was also declared safe and put her pop belt to use for “Elastic Heart” by Sia.

The performance brought Richie to his feet, with the judge exclaiming that Kinstler is "a force to be reckoned with."

"You are so into your performance, but at the same time, you have the ability to draw us into your performance," he added.

Perry complimented Kinstler for saving her best vocal tricks for the end of the song, which made the storytelling more dynamic.

To keep Kinstler in the competition, text 12 to 21523.

Alanis Sophia

Fellow college student Alanis Sophia, 19, also made the top 16, belting out “The Story” by Brandi Carlile.

Perry commended Sophia for handling the challenge of performing right after the nerve-wracking vote reveal.

"It’s like getting a wildcard text right before you’re supposed to perform," Perry said. "You’re so young, and you’re keeping it together. Good for you."

Richie encouraged Sophia to "play the stage" and "work it."

If you want Sophia’s story on "Idol" to have another chapter, text 1 to 21523.

More: 'American Idol': Claudia Conway clashes with partner, other duet ends in hospitalization

Willie Spence

Caretaker Willie Spence, 21, also made the top 16, giving an emotional performance of Adele's “Set Fire to the Rain” that made Richie jump out of his seat.

"I can’t even stand still," the judge said. "God took control of you because there’s no possible way you thought about this.”

Perry agreed as tears streamed down Spence's face.

"You were possessed in a godly way," she said. "It was like God was working through you, and it was beautiful to see you step into your power."

To see more of Spence's power, text 11 to 21523.

Deshawn Goncalves

College student Deshawn Goncalves, 20, took a seat behind the piano for “Feeling Good” by Nina Simone, after finding out he also made the top 16.

"You handled that with such control," Richie told the contestant, who ended his soulful performance on a long, high note. "It was like a pro."

Perry and Bryan complimented the singer's improvement.

"Watching your growth is what’s so inspiring for us as judges because that’s why we sit in these chairs," Bryan added.

If you're feeling good about Goncalves, text 7 to 21523.

Wyatt Pike

College student Wyatt Pike, 20, continued his streak of authentic performances into the top 16, with a rendition of “Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon.

Bryan assured Pike that, no matter what happens on "Idol," he's "gonna be able to do music for the rest of your life."

Perry encouraged him to go for a stripped down song next time to really showcase the emotion in his voice.

"I would like to see you do something just you," she said. "I really believe in you. I think whatever happens, you’re already it."

Richie said Pike has "a style on stage that we like to watch."

"You’re on your way to something big, my friend," he added.

To keep Pike in the competition, text 4 to 21523.

More: 'American Idol' closes Top 24 as Jewel disagrees with Katy Perry and Madison Watkins bonds with Tori Kelly over faith

Cassandra Coleman

Cassandra Coleman was the last contestant from the first group to secure her spot in the top 16 — which meant 23-year-old wedding singer Andrea Valles, 20-year-old college student Anilee List, 23-year-old food delivery driver Alana and 20-year-old machine operator Cecil Ray didn't make the cut.

The 24-year-old coffee shop manager, who has been candid in past episodes about her struggle with nerves, took deep breaths onstage before singing after the nail-biting reveal.

Her haunting performance of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” earned praise from the judges.

"I’m just glad that you’re getting another shot to keep doing it," said Perry. "There’s 'American Idol,' and then there’s life after 'American Idol,' and I think you’re going to ace both of them."

If you thought Cassandra aced her performance, text 2 to 21523.

Caleb Kennedy

The 12 contestants who sang last Monday then found out their fates, starting with 16-year-old high school student Caleb Kennedy.

After learning he was safe, Kennedy gave a rugged performance of "Midnight Train to Memphis" by Chris Stapleton.

"This brother has ice water in his veins," said Richie, commending the teen on his cool, calm demeanor. "That was brilliant."

“I can never see your eyes, and I like it," Perry told Kennedy, who always takes the stage wearing a hat. "You have this grit."

To put Kennedy on the midnight train to the top 12, text 22 to 21523.

Colin Jamieson

Wedding singer Colin Jamieson, 22, also made the cut. He sang Tears for Fears' "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," bopping around onstage and hamming it up for the cameras.

"It’s called show business," said Richie. "You got comfortable, and let us see that you were having the time of your life on this stage. That is a winning combination."

Text 19 to 21523, to keep Jamieson's show going on "Idol."

Casey Bishop

High school student Casey Bishop may only be 16, but she showed she can own classic rock songs, jamming out to “Black Hole Sun” by Sound Garden after finding out she made the top 16.

"You can sing anything you want to," Bryan told the teen, whom he predicted would go on to win the show after her first audition.

Perry said this was Bishop's "best performance yet."

"It was so precise," she added. "You’re dangerous, and I like it.”

To keep Bishop rocking on "Idol," text 24 to 21523.

Madison Watkins

Twenty-six-year-old hair model Madison Watkins also made the top 16. The bubbly singer gave a grounded performance of “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles.

The song was clearly emotional for Watkins, who held back tears at the end of the ballad.

Richie said Watkins delivered a "perfect presentation," with Perry telling her that was "the best you ever sounded."

"It was such stardom," she continued. "Full package stardom."

To keep Watkins' star shining on "Idol," text 14 to 21523.

More: 'American Idol' selects top 24: Viral contestant takes big risk, other singers learn fates


Beane, another wedding singer, also planted himself in the top 16. He sang Thirdstory's "Searching for a Feeling," with Perry saying it's “awesome to see all these shades of Beane."

Richie said the 23-year-old has a secret weapon in addition to his voice: likeability.

"Understand that people falling in love with you is the game," said Richie. "You want them to know you like you are doing right now."

Text 15 to 21523 to keep Beane's "Idol" dreams sprouting.

Hunter Metts

Software developer Hunter Metts, 22, got a chance to show off his dreamy voice again after making the top 16.

After Metts' performance of Bon Iver's "Skinny Love," Richie said the contestant already has something many musicians strive to cultivate: an instantly identifiable voice.

"Can I close my eyes and know who’s singing," said Richie. "That’s you."

"You gave us growl," said Perry. "That was awesome."

You can vote for Metts by texting 23 to 21523.

Ava August

Ava August, 15, has earned praise from the judges for being an old soul. But after securing a spot in the top 16, the teen decided to show a more contemporary side of her voice, singing "2002" by Anne-Marie.

"I am going to declare you 15 and dangerous," said Richie.

Perry praised the performance but advised the teen who's been compared in the past to Judy Garland, not to lose her classic edge.

"This week I was reminded that you are 15 and that you like popular music," said the judge. "But don’t forget that classic always trumps cool. And you’re classic."

To keep this classic singer competing, text 21 to 21523.

Chayce Beckham

And then there were five.

The last contestant to earn a spot in the next round was 24-year-old heavy machine operator Chayce Beckham.

Unfortunately, that meant the end of the road for some fan favorites, including 17-year-old high school student Hannah Everhart, 19-year-old real estate sales associate Mary Jo Young, 25-year-old music teacher Jason Warrior and 17-year-old high school student Liahona Olayan.

Beckham went on to sing "Waiting in Vain" by Bob Marley & The Wailers, showing off his gravelly voice.

"America really sees this authenticity," said Perry. "Your life has begun and congratulations for it."

Perhaps Bryan summed up Beckham's vibe best. "Can you email me on how to be cool?" he asked.

To let Beckham give another lesson in coolness on the "Idol" stage, text 18 to 21523.

"Idol" continues Monday (8 EST).

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'American Idol' recap: Top 16 revealed after nail-biting eliminations