American Idol season 16 returned for another night of brutal Hollywood Week cuts. Around 75 contestants survived the lines of 10 and group performances last week, and Sunday night’s episode whittled the competition down to the top 50. After solo performances, Idol hopefuls were sorted into three rooms, and judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie gave each room its collective fate.
For these performances, judges did not give feedback, so these were quick hits. Things got started with Gabby Barrett singing “Ain’t No Way” by Aretha Franklin. She brought a lot of soul to the cover and showed emotional depth in her performance.
Marcio Donaldson kept the Aretha going with a performance of “Natural Woman,” dedicating it to his young son. The performance really showcased the power behind his voice.
Effie Passaro sang “Alone” by Heart, and the song didn’t quite fit her range, but her rocker edge came through. “For the longest time, I never fit in,” Passaro said. But she found her confidence and delivered a solid solo. The judges seemed blown away.
Amelia Hammer Harris followed with a performance of “Feel It Still” by Portugal the Man, bringing a lot of emotion and soul to the song.
She was followed by Cade Foehner, singing the same song. He brought a little more of a rock sound to the song, and it was more memorable.
Harper Grace mixed things up by singing an original song she sang called “Rest in Peace.” It was an organic and entertaining performance, and Grace really carved out a specific space for herself in the competition.
Catie Turner also sang an original song called “Pity” that was about female empowerment, and she showcased her usual indie singer-songwriter vibes. Turner’s pal Noah Davis gave a performance of former Idol winner Kelly Clarkson’s “Piece by Piece,” and he made it his own, showcasing his delicate tone.
Dennis Lorenzo sang former Idol hit “Home” by Daughtry, saying that he finds strength in the song. Frandon Elder had the same song choice, and while both sounded like strong rocker vocalists, Lorenzo stood out a little more.
Singer-songwriter Maddie Poppe opted for an original song, too, singing her own “Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up,” accompanying herself on the guitar. It was an understated but impressive performance, and Perry really connected with it.
Next up, Michelle Sussette sang “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross. But because she lost her voice during the process of Hollywood Week, she couldn’t quite hit all her notes.
Ron Bultongez sang “Home” by Phillip Phillips, and it wasn’t the best song choice, but he still proved that he belongs in the competition, singing with a lot of emotion and delivering a solid lyrical interpretation.
Jonny Brenns sang “I Lived” by OneRepublic, and his voice was also suffering from the strains of Hollywood Week. He bombed on the high notes.
Crystal Alicia next sang “Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele, and her lack of experience and confidence once again became clear like it was during her group performance last week. She showed potential but didn’t stand out.
Deonte Baker sang “Too Good at Goodbyes” by Sam Smith and had a lot of confidence, but his vocals really didn’t back it up. The performance was mediocre.
Jurnee was up next, singing “One Last Time” by Ariana Grande. Though Perry didn’t seem to think it was the right song, Jurnee delivered a great vocal.
Trevor Holmes also sang “Home” by Phillip Phillips, and it was a solid but unmemorable performance.
Maddie Zahm, singing Patty Griffin, showed huge improvement in her singing. She brought a lot of soul and power to the performance. Shannon O’Hara also sang Griffin and delivered the inferior performance.
Jenevieve went big by singing “Praying” by Kesha. It was an ambitious song choice, and she didn’t quite do it justice.
Singing “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak, Garrett Jacobs was similarly lackluster in his performance. Hollywood Week is a big test for the singers in this competition, and he seemed to be cracking under the pressure.
Brittany Holmes tackled Ed Sheeran and made it her own, infusing the song with her raspy and original tone.
Gabbi Jones next took on a Lady Gaga song, and it was just OK. She had some pitch issues and failed to stand out.
Bravely singing “Rise” by Perry, Thaddeus Johnson gave an over-the-top but sincere performance that showed how badly he wanted to stay in the competition. It seemed to leave an impression on the judges.
Kay Kay Alexis also took on “Set Fire to the Rain” by Adele, and she sounded strong, making it her own without changing the song too much.
Laine Hardy next sang “Fire Away” by Chris Stapleton, and some of the lack of motivation that came through in his group performance last week was also at play Sunday night. He just didn’t seem to want it as bad as a lot of the other contestants.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson sang “Your Man” by Josh Turner and slipped into his delicate falsetto.
Michael J. Woodard closed out the night with one of the best performances, singing “Maybe This Time” from Cabaret. It was dramatic, but he didn’t oversing it, and the judges were shocked by how much he brought to it.˜
With the performances over, the contestants were then sorted into three rooms. The first and third rooms were eliminated, and room two went home. Included in the artists who advanced were Harris, Trevor and Brittany Holmes, Turner, Passero, Barrett, Grace, Jurnee, Kay Kay, Poppe, Sussett, Zahm, Foehner, Hutchinson, Lorenzo, Jacobs, Brenns, Hardy, Johnson and Bultongez.