Week two of American Idol’s top 24 rounds, which wrapped Monday with a dozen all-star duets, brought with it some shocking, downright outrageous eliminations: namely Effie Passero, who had slayed “Barracuda” in the previous night’s solo rounds, and Amelia Hammer Harris, this season’s most ready-for-primetime player. But judge Katy Perry left them with some encouraging parting words: “You got to duet with a couple of people tonight that never made it on this show that are now bona fide stars. So, if that doesn’t give you a great example of ‘I can do it …”
Katy was referring to Colbie Caillat and Bebe Rexha, both of whom were rejected on Idol in the past. (Other famously passed-over singers who went on to bigger and better things include Tori Kelly, Amber Riley, Mary Lambert, and Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott.) Bebe, who sang Monday with Amanda, said, “So the funny thing is, I auditioned for American Idol, but I didn’t make it. So, for all you watching out there, you just never know!” Colbie also revealed that she had auditioned with her own song ‘Bubbly,’ but “wasn’t ready at all. I had such stage fright, and I realized I had a lot of work to do with myself.”
Colbie finally got to sing “Bubbly” on Idol this Monday. … So, yeah, you just never know. Maybe we will see the totally robbed Amanda and Effie as guest stars on Idol in the years to come.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson & Bebe Rexha, “Meant to Be”
The hitmaker and recent Florida Georgia Line collaborator was a good match for Caleb. When he started off the song along, he wasn’t as confident as he’d been Sunday, but when Bebe walked out and reached for his hand, he visibly relaxed. Their voices blended well, and I think Caleb might have a crush on her. “Wow, Caleb, I’ve never seen that shade of red before!” Katy said. “That was really fun seeing you outside of your comfort zone, getting a bit loose.”
Ada Vox & Lea Michele, “Defying Gravity”
This was a vocal pairing for the ages, maybe the most epic duet of the night. Lea started the song, but Ada completely matched — maybe even surpassed — Lea’s star power. “God, it’s so good, so good!” Lionel Richie shouted midsong. Lea was just as excited, gushing, “This voice is out of control, and getting to sing with someone of the vocal caliber was a real honor.”
Maddie Poppe & Colbie Caillat, “Bubbly”
Maddie and Colbie may have been a little too much of a match. Their voices were so similar that it was nearly impossible to tell them apart, and with Maddie sitting on a stool next to the guitar-strumming Colbie, she seemed like a backup singer. Katy thought the two made a good team, though, saying, “You weren’t stepping on each other’s toes; you were really complementing each other. That was so beautiful.”
Ron Bultongez & Banners, “Someone to You” (ELIMINATED)
Mentor Bobby Bones kept encouraging the somber Ron to loosen up and smile more, so he tried his best, clapping and rousing the crowd during this new Idol anthem. The shtick felt a little forced. But Ron’s vocals were as effortless as ever. Banners even told him, “Stop being better than me at my own song!” The judges praised Ron for stepping out of his comfort zone — exactly what he was told to do — but cut him anyway.
Amelia Hammer Harris & Bebe Rexha, “Me, Myself & I” (ELIMINATED)
I’ll never, ever understand why the judges never got 100 percent behind Amelia. I always thought she was the total package and this season’s potential winner. She and Bebe sounded stupendous together, and Amelia certainly had that “fire in her soul.” Me, myself, and I are all very upset that she did not make the top 12.
Shannon O’Hara & Cam, “Burning House” (ELIMINATED)
This was a lovely pairing, but Shannon’s lack of star quality was again problematic. Shannon matched her duet partner note for glorious note, but she still faded into the background next to Cam. Lionel called this “a master class in what does it look like to have a successful duet,” but that still wasn’t enough to save Shannon.
Alyssa Raghu & Banners, “Yellow” (ELIMINATED)
OK, this was not a good match. The song was much more suited to Banners, whose dad actually produced the Coldplay classic. Meanwhile, Alyssa was utterly out of her element. And their harmonies were borderline unpleasant. Lionel told her she didn’t shine enough — a comment that elicited rare audience boos. But he wasn’t wrong. Alyssa, one of the most naturally gifted singers of the season, really got screwed with this pairing.
Marcio Donaldson & Allen Stone, “What’s Going On”
Marcio was supposed to sing with Toni Braxton and found out just two days before this performance that she was too sick to perform. But he didn’t let the last-minute switch faze him. He had natural, sweet chemistry with Allen, and the Marvin Gaye protest song fit his smooth voice perfectly. Lionel called this a “spiritual moment.” Marcio’s flexibility and professionalism will get him far on this show.
Jurnee & Lea Michele, “Run to You”
Lea had the two most exquisite duets of the night: If there was any performance that could have eclipsed Ada’s, it was this tour de force. Jurnee had her work cut out for her, singing with her own idol, the artist formerly known as Rachel Berry, but she rose to the occasion. And there was a lot of mutual love: The gracious Lea exclaimed, “I haven’t been so excited to sing this song, like, ever. This was a dream come true for me.”
Garrett Jacobs & Colbie Caillat, “Lucky”
I still don’t get how this guy coasted through to the top 12. Katy said he needed to work on his voice. Lionel said he needed to grow. So why did they put him through over Ron, Amelia, Alyssa, and Effie? Because of his heartthrob appeal? Well, if Monday’s outraged Twitter reaction is any indication, that appeal has worn off, and vengeful fans will vote him off soon enough.
Mara Justine & Rachel Platten, “Fight Song”
Mara related to this empowerment anthem because she doesn’t fit in at school, and her connection to the lyrics -— and to Rachel, who rearranged the song just for Mara — translated to the stage. This was an emotional breakthrough for the normally wacky, hair-flipping Mara, but she didn’t let her feelings affect her impeccable vocals. “You actually found your center,” Lionel told the choked-up singer.
Effie Passero & Cam, “Diane” (ELIMINATED)
Effie was also thrown a curveball — she was supposed to sing with Jessie J, which would have been epic, but Jessie also fell ill. But Effie was just as great doing a country song she learned in 15 minutes. For that alone, she should’ve gotten a pass. She should have gotten through just on the power of Sunday’s insane Heart cover. Effie’s elimination was a travesty, the biggest shocker of this season so far.
So, now we have our official top 14 (Gabby Barrett, Jonny Brenns, Marcio Donaldson, Cade Foehner, Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Garrett Jacobs, Jurnee, Mara Justine, Dennis Lorenzo, Maddie Poppe, Michelle Sussett, Catie Turner, Ada Vox, and Michael J. Woodard). Despite this week’s crazy cuts, this is a very strong group. Watch them compete for America’s vote for the first time this Sunday.
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