Night two of American Idol Season 17’s Hollywood Week was brutal, with 30 of the remaining 70 contestants going home by the end of Monday’s episode. Johanna Jones survived, for now — but at least she knows that if she eventually does go home, she has a new fiancé waiting for her back in Nevada. After her boyfriend was unable to attend Hollywood Week because of his studies, he hopped in the car after taking six final exams and drove 11 hours to L.A.’s Orpheum Theatre to surprise her with an onstage marriage proposal.
Johanna had just finished telling producers that she is “pretty dang in love” and that Matt is “the one,” perfectly setting up the show for a moment right up there with the Ace Young-Diana DeGarmo proposal on the Season 11 finale, Maddie Poppe and Caleb Lee Hutchinson’s relationship-status reveal on last year’s Season 16 finale, and the recent news that two other Season 16 finalists, Gabby Barrett and Cade Foehner, have gotten engaged. It was immediately following Johanna’s moody performance of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” — an odd song choice, in this context — that Matt showed up with a ring.
Johanna’s parents, who were in the audience at the Orpheum, seemed shocked — but not as shocked as judge Katy Perry, who dropped to her knees under the judges’ desk and ugly-cried so hard that her makeup artist had to be dispatched to the scene. “Why won’t someone love me like that?” she howled melodramatically. Obviously this episode was taped before Katy’s significant other, Orlando Bloom, actually popped the question himself.
— Luke Bryan (@LukeBryanOnline) March 26, 2019
You may recall that Katy once dished to Johanna that she and Orlando met-cute at In-N-Out, after Johanna revealed that her day job is flipping burgers for the fast food franchise. Perhaps In-N-Out can cater both Katy and Johanna’s weddings.
It wasn’t all love on American Idol this Monday, however. As the 70 contestants got the opportunity to perform with the house band for the first time, some of them floundered — particularly those who sang self-penned songs that were not nearly as good as the originals Maddie Poppe and Catie Turner did last year, despite Katy’s stern warning about the risks of doing originals. Previous standouts Eddie Island and Wade Cota nearly ruined their chances this way. (“That was a really bad song,” Katy said of Eddie’s weak “1974,” while judge Lionel Richie grumbled, “I did not get it” over Wade’s inaccurately titled breakup song “It Will Get Better.” It got worse.)
Thankfully, 16-year-old Madison Vanderburg heeded Katy’s advice and switched at the last minute from an original to Adele’s tried-and-true “All I Ask,” which was a smashing success. And genius/prodigy Alejandro Aranda of course blew everyone away with his actually excellent original, “10 Years.”
By the end of the night, the show said goodbye to a few other familiar faces — like Latin lover Juan Pablo, whom Katy described as a bit “queso”; Megan Fox lookalike and judge Luke Bryan’s crush, Katie Belle; “country Justin Bieber” Austin Michael Robinson, whose own last-minute song switch was a big mistake; rare skin condition sufferer Jackson Gillies; and Gaba, the girl with the egg-donor backstory.
A few other once-promising singers besides Eddie and Wade messed up (the nervous Myra Tran and Kai the Singer, the rough and weirdly smiley Nate Walker, the pitchy Riley Thompson, the lyric-flubbing Tyler Mitchell), but they all made it through on the strength of their overall body of work. So they’ll be “through to Hawaii” for a special destination round next week.
These were my favorite successful Monday performances:
Walker Burroughs, 20: “Your Song”
This kid is a bona fide baby Elton! I appreciated his simple-but-effective emotive delivery and sweet a cappella intro.
Raquel Trinidad, 20: “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”
This was the first time we’d seen her face! I have no idea why Raquel’s audition never aired, but I took notice of the diva’s bold personality and bolder voice.
Evelyn Cormier, 19: “Wonderwall”
Evelyn has also received a marriage proposal on reality television (she was on 90-Day Fiancé), which has made her a polarizing casting among Idol fans. But there’s no denying that she can sing the heck out of an Oasis song.
Margie Mays, 25: “Never Enough”
This spazzy gal was, as usual, a nervous wreck — but unlike Myra and Kai, she pulled it together when it really mattered. This performance was indeed enough. “She still does not know how good she is,” sighed Luke.
Drake McCain, 17: “Always on My Mind”
Nate Walker also sang this song Monday, but it was Drake’s tender and unforced version that made the judges take notice. They perked right up at Drake’s first honeyed note.
Bumbly, 27: “God Is a Woman”
This too is a diva who until now has received no screentime, and I am not sure why. But the powerhouse made the most of her closeup Monday with this fierce Ariana Grande cover.
Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon, 26: “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”
“Amazing,” Luke murmured. That was an understatement. Every time I see Jeremiah’s face, and hear his gorgeous voice, I fall more in love with him. I hope if that he makes the top 24, he will have America’s vote.
Kate Barnette, 23: “Daughters”
Another previously unseen contestant, this indie girl worked some Hotel Café magic with her acoustic John Mayer cover. She seems very up Katy’s alley — and not just because Katy once dated John Mayer, before Orlando came around.
Laci Kaye Booth, 23: “Stars”
The golden girl continued to stand out with this powerful Grace Potter cover. She is indeed a star.
Uché, “Scars to Your Beautiful”
Uché, whose influences include Rick James, Boosty Collins, and Bobby Brown, made a first impression with his brash personality and funky dance moves. So it was a nice surprise to discover that there are layers to this guy. When he dropped the showman shtick and delivered this unexpected tender dedication to his little sister, it was a sweet moment, and a better showcase for his vocals.
Alyssa Raghu, 16: “What About Us”
Alyssa stalled during the top 24 semifinals last year, but this season, she seems ready for prime time. The voice was always there, but now she has the confidence and stage presence to be the complete package.
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