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Andrew is a staff writer at the “The Hudsucker”. He is a 29 year old lawyer living in Ottawa. Besides legal jargon, his brain capacity is taken up by reality show trivia, video game walk-throughs and room escape strategies. Andrew is also happily in a long-term, long-distance relationship. Follow him on Twitter as @sublymonal.

5 of the Best Moments From the First Round of ‘American Idol’ Top 24 Performances

During last week’s Monday night broadcast of Idol the judges announced the Top 24. This week, we got to see half of them perform solos on Sunday night and then duets with celebrity musicians on Monday night. As is always the case on the first night of the semi-finals, we saw some high highs and low lows. Some contestants let nerves get the best of them, while others became polished diamonds in the rough right before our eyes.

This is why people tune in to the show, so let’s talk about those moments and what they mean for the competition going forward…

Rising to the Occasion

First and foremost, there were the contestants that rose above the rest in the solo round. Despite visible nerves, teen heartthrob Jonny Brenns delivered a cover of Vance Joy’s “Georgia” that highlighted the best parts of his voice. His duet with Andy Grammer to his song “Back Home” was a little out of his comfort zone, but it was good to see him having fun.

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Michael J. Woodard had the chance to duet with Pat Monahan of Train on Monday Night [Credit: ABC]

Michael J. Woodard‘s sweet tone also came through on his version of the Beatles’ lesser known “Golden Slumbers,” and his duet with Train’s Pat Monahan to “Angel in Blue Jeans” gave him a chance to shine as well. Both him and Jonny are definitely ones to watch, despite being under the radar until recently.

The Importance of Constructive Criticism

Sometimes it felt like the judges were a little too nice to the contestants but perhaps they felt like there was no sense in fraying their nerves even further. Still, I felt like several contestants benefited from the advice given to them by mentor Bobby Bones and the critiques the judge gave following their performance. Particularly, Dennis Lorenzo ventured outside of his comfort zone when he covered Magic’s “Rude” to mixed feedback, but his duet with Allen Stone to his hit “Unaware” brought him back to where his voice works best.

Similarly, Kay Kay Alexis, who has been practically invisible up until this point in the competition, came out and made a statement with her version of Rihanna’s “Love On The Brain” after Bobby told show a different side of herself.  Unfortunately, her duet to “Drive By” with Pat Monahan didn’t have quite the same standout quality to it.

Nerves Got the Best of Some

There was definitely a case of first show jitters as some contestants struggled to achieve the same magic we’ve seen before from them. Dominique opened the show with a lively version of Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody,” but his duet to “Wake Me Up” with Aloe Blacc on night two felt a little stilted and seemed to highlight the flaws in his voice when compared to Aloe himself.

Second to take the stage was Catie Turner, whose personality has been well matched with her stellar songwriter and voice up until this point. On Sunday night however, her choice of song and outfit felt like she had taken the quirk factor a little too far and her inability to showcase her talent above all else, even in her duet to Andy Grammer’s “Good To Be Alive (Hallelujah),” makes me nervous for her future in the competition.

Other contestants fared better. While Michelle Sussett‘s vocals on Beyonce’s “If I Were A Boy” when a little off the rails on Sunday night, she showed a better side of voice in her duet to Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me” with Luis Fonsi of “Despacito” fame. Luis also dueted with Brandon Diaz, who dropped the ball on a cover of judge Lionel Ritchie’s “Hello,” but then surprised the judges with his impeccable Spanish and sensual dance moves while singing “Despacito.”

Overlap

It’s extra tough for a contestant to stand out when there’s another person who shares their niche. In some ways, it became a battle for best country girl as Layla Spring sang a competent version of Martina McBride’s “Broken Wing” while Gabby Barrett started weak on Maren Morris’ “My Church,” but finished strong. On night two, Layla’s version of “Stuck Like Glue” with Sugarland felt fun, but after Gabby joined them to sing their ballad “Stay,” it felt like she had done more that Layla to earn her spot.

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Trevor, Jonny, Kay Kay and Brandon anxiously away their results on Monday night [Credit: ABC]

Similarly, it felt like raspy voiced singers Trevor McBane and Cade Foehner had to prove which of them was the better soulful rocker. Trevor’s version of Kaleo’s “Way Down We Go” suited him, but wasn’t pitch perfect and his duet to “Rivers” with pop-star Bishop Briggs fell a little flat. In contrast, Cade went full Hendrix, making Katy practically faint with his cover of “All Along the Watchtower.” He and Bishop Briggs also found a way to tap into his classic rock roots with a cover of INXS’s “Never Tear Us Apart”.

The Results

In the end, it was CatieCadeJonnyMichaelGabbyDennis, and Michelle who the judges chose to advance, leaving Dominique, Layla, Trevor, Brandon and Kay Kay in the dust. For me, some of the decisions felt questionable, but I also felt like the judges weren’t deciding wholly on vocal ability. There’s definitely something to be said about Catie’s personality or Michelle’s ability to entertain, even if they faltered on solo night. These qualities may be enough to endear audience members to them in the weeks to come, but we will see.

Next week, Group 2 performs their solos and duets and the last seven contestants join the Top 14.

Who gave your favorite solo and duet performances? And which contestants are your favorite so far in the Top 14? Let us know in the comments below!

Header Image: ABC
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3 Comments on “5 of the Best Moments From the First Round of ‘American Idol’ Top 24 Performances”

  1. Elizabeth Rosalyn The April 10, 2018 at 3:54 pm #

    Jonny and Michael were the definite standouts for me in Group 1. I’m really glad they landed spots in the Top 14! Dennis and Gabby really shined during their celebrity duets and I look forward to seeing them continue to improve in the competition.

    • Andrew Rogers April 11, 2018 at 12:09 pm #

      I totally agree with you on all of this. I think Jonny and Michael definitely surprised me, though I hoped and expected them to be good and while Dennis and Gabby seemed to miss the mark with their solos, they made up for it in the duets. Definitely a lot of potential with this group of 7.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 5 of the Best Moments From the Second Round of ‘American Idol’ Top 24 Performances | The Hudsucker - April 17, 2018

    […] Last week, we saw the judges start to form the Top 14 for American Idol‘s new season by adding seven singers to its list of finalists. […]

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