It was survival of the fittest as American Idol’s Hollywood Week reach a particularly dramatic Duets Challenge. Only this year, judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie flip the script by deciding the pairs rather than the Idol hopefuls choosing for themselves. Another nice touch: The judges observe and give feedback during the rehearsal process. Those who make it through this round take the next step toward the brand-new Showstopper Round.
Let’s take a look at some top performances and ones that get the judges on their feet. Might any of these be an American Idol in the making?
Katy Shows Liahona Tough Love
With her brother Ammon eliminated earlier in Hollywood Week, a nervous Liahona Olayan has to sing for the first time with someone not family. She’s paired with another youngster in the competition, Laila Mach, to form “Machhona.” Katy advises Liahona to stop dwelling on not having her older brother there and put her best foot forward. The pop superstar feels the performer is sabotaging herself and lets her know it with some tough love. They sing “Stay” by Rihanna and Mikky Ekko. Despite Katy’s concerns about Liahona, she sends them both through.
New Best Friend
Madison Watkins and Deshawn Goncalves didn’t know each other, but say they feel like they meshed right from the start. The “Kingdom Kids” see their chemistry on full display with their rendition of “Stay.” The powerful voices will have the opportunity to grow their friendship further.
‘Watermelon Sugar’ Highs & Lows
Harry Styles’ “Watermelon Sugar” was a popular choice among the hopefuls, but the song is met with mixed results. Graham DeFranco and Cameron Allen, “Grahameron,” are up first, and while Graham flies through, Cameron meets the end of the road. Beane and Kari Erickson, “Dean & Carrie,” also go with Styles’ ear candy. The judges wonder if the song really can showcase their talents. Bean’s sent forward while Kari’s sent home. The judges make a blanket ban on “Watermelon Sugar,” but Anthony Guzman and Adriel Carrion, “Double AA,” didn’t get the memo and sang it anyway. Their interpretation, though, tastes a little sweeter to the judges, who loved how Adriel in particular transforms into a “lead singer.” Both move on.
Claudia’s Journey Ends
Small-town girl Hannah Everhart is pretty apprehensive when she’s paired with the famous Claudia Conway — to the extent the 17-year-old goes missing at one point. When Claudia locates her, Hannah is still a little standoffish, feeling she might be better off with an older performer. Katy encourages them to not hold anything back. “Rollin On Sass” pulls it together for their rendition of Harry Styles’ “Sign of the Times.” Katy sees growth from the last time she saw them, but isn’t really feeling Claudia. Hannah is sent through while Claudia’s Idol journey ends. But the singer stays upbeat, and her moment in the sun ends brightly.
Quirky characters Lizzy O’Very and street busker Murphy come together winningly to form “A Different Breed.” Murphy adopts Lizzy’s barefoot stage look and they chose to do “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac. Katy’s assessment: “It’s so weird, it’s wonderful.” These two rays of sunshine are sent to the next round.
Ronda Felton and Funke Lagoke show some rock. solid support for each other heading into their performances. The two, who have been through a lot, life each other up as they sing Barbra Streisand and Celine Dion’s classic “Tell Him.” The judges disagree about who to send through, however, and just as they’re about to give their decision to the “Melanated Queens,” Funke collapses on stage in one of the scariest scenes in show history. Medical staff transfer her to a stretcher and an ambulance takes her to the hospital. Lionel tells Ronda both deserve to go through. Funke is treated for dehydration, released from the hospital and can continue with her Idol journey.
Is That Ryan Phillippe?
Hunter Metts (a Ryan Phillippe doppelganger) and Ava August — who both have excellent names for the big time — are a good combo. Luke Bryan encourages them to challenge themselves, and “Ten-OC” puts on an incredible rendition of “Dancing on My Own” by Robyn Konichiwa. There is still a sense from the judges that they’re playing it safe, but still are given the nod through. Katy leaves them with one more pearl of wisdom: “Bigger the risk, bigger the reward.”
Vocal powerhouses Grace Kinstler and Alyssa Wray shut it down with a next-level performance of “Grenade” by Bruno Mars. The judges stand in appreciation for the “BBG’s.” Katy’s so excited, she even takes her wig off. These two are definitely ones to watch and they close the show on a high note.
American Idol, Sundays, 8/7c, ABC
American Idol, Mondays, 8/7c, ABC