AMERICAN IDOL - "208 (Showcase/Final Judgment)" - For the first time ever, "American Idol"'s iconic showcase round hits the road, heading to Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii, where the showÕs Top 40 contestants take to the beach for incredible solo performances in front of a live audience and the superstar judge panel. Following the performances, itÕs an emotional roller coaster in paradise as the judges sit down with each contestant to reveal their fate, culminating with the showÕs Top 20 finalists. The search for AmericaÕs next superstar continues on The ABC Television Network, SUNDAY, MARCH 31 (8:00 - 11:00 p.m. EDT), streaming and on demand. (ABC/Karen Neal) MARGIE MAYS
Photo: Karen Neal/ABC
Photo: Karen Neal/ABC

‘American Idol’ Hollywood showcase rounds and top 20

A three-hour marathon!

Originally posted Sunday, March 31, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

The Grand Poobahs at ABC thought it was a great idea to run a three-hour episode of “American Idol” tonight.

It’s not a good idea. Even for dedicated “Idol” fans, that’s a looong time and something that has never been done before. (Fox over its 15 seasons was limited by the fact prime-time ends for them at 10 p.m., not 11 p.m.)

Anyway, the annual “green mile” elimination this year is set in a Disney resort in Hawaii. 

While very scenic, it’s the same idea. As the contestants are seen walking up to the judges, flashbacks are incorporated. 

Given the three hours, we get to hear a lot more of the performances, which is the one advantage. 

Overall, we some excellent performances, many good ones, not a lot of truly bad ones.

The top 20 gives me optimism that the live shows will be solid, that there’s some great talent. 

Among those I really enjoyed tonight: Dimitrius, Ashley, Laci, Ryan, Uche, Jeremiah and Lane. 

Before the videos, here’s the top 20 at a quick glance. This will be cut to 14 on Monday. Two of the top 20 are from metro Atlanta: Shawn Robinson and Kate Barnett (who has been barely seen, which doesn’t bode well for her future).

Alyssa Raghu

Shawn Robinson

Evelyn Cormier

Eddie Island

Madison Vanderburg

Ryan Hammon

Raquel Trinidad

Logan Johnson

Demetrius Graham

Riley Thompson

Walker Burroughs

Cristina Contreras

Ashley Hess

Alejandro Aranda

Kate Barnett

Laine Hardy

Uche Ndubizu

Jeremiarh Harmon

Laci Kaye Booth

Wade Cota

First up: Alyssa Raghu: She has worked hard on her performance skills and she has improved from last year. Her “Dear Future Husband” sounds great. She feels less than organic but she is certainly good enough to make the top 20. And she does. 

Madison Vandenburg ( “Who’s Lovin’ You” Jackson 5) : I just saw Kelly Clarkson. While Madison’s voice certainly has comparable power, it doesn’t resonate with me the way Kelly’s did during this performance. It sounds oddly generic and her performance felt a little stagey. But it’s hard to deny her raw ability. She is through. 

Myra Tran ( “How Far I’ll Go” from “Moana”). She just came to Vietnam not too long ago. I have found her a little too loud during previous performances but found her very engaging in front of a live audience and quite natural. I preferred her over Madison but Madison’s body of work so far has been more consistent. So Myra is eliminated. 

Logan Johnson. He is the hearthrob teen entrant. He opts for a Justin Bieber song “Sorry.” Smart pick. The girls love him as he intersperses some Spanish lyrics. He’s charming but is he a star? I’m not sure. He’s in. 

Nate Walker. He lost his voice in Hollywood. Can he pick it up? He takes a risk by singing a Lionel Richie/Commodores hit “Still.” He gets cut.

Dimitrius. ( “Latch” Disclosure) . This is super pretty version of this song. He has great stage presence, total control of this performance. Very impressive. He’s in the top 20. 

Ashley Hess.  “Gone Here” H.E.R. She has a powerhouse voice. So much style and nuance. But they did note she wasn’t used to being with a live band and is better on a piano. She’s in. 

Drake McCain ( “Girls Like You”). He misses some serious notes and it costs him because he does have stage presence and clearly had fun with the teen girls in the crowd.  He’s out. 

Kai the Singer ( “Wild Things). I loved her before this and she shows plenty of confidence. For someone who has not performed with a live band, she was impressive. But the vocals are all over the place. So close. I’m sure she almost made the cut. But she is out. 

Laci Kaye Booth. ( “Georgia On My Mind”) This is on my list of overplayed Idol songs. But she does do a good job with it.  I really like the tone in her voice and that slight rasp just gives it more flavor. She makes the cut. 

Nick Townsend. ( “Hold Back the River” James Bay) He started weak but once he hit the chorus, he was in his element. I enjoyed his performance. But he doesn’t make it through. 

Clay Paige (Elberton GA country singer), Kason Lester (strawberry farmer), Johanna Jones (who got engaged on stage during Hollywood week), are eliminated.

Walker Burroughs ( “Youngblood” Five Seconds of Summer) This was his weakest performance to date, as he admitted, but his voice is one of my favorites and he certainly did well enough to get through. I’m glad he’s in. 

Ryan Hammond ( “A Song For You” Donny Hathaway). Elliott Yamin alert! He sounds fabulous, channeling his soulful side. He makes it!

Evelyn Cormier. ( “No Roots” Alice Merton). She’s way too overly stylized. I don’t feel authenticity. But she’s in. 

Kate Barnett, Kennesaw, GA ( “Royals” Lorde) A funky version! She’s in, too. 

Emma Kleinberg. ( “Is This Love” Bob Marley) She’s the one with her brother who survived a suicide but is now handicapped. Honestly, they edited out most of her performance so we could hear her story. She’s out. 

Uché( “Play That Funky Music” Wild Cherry) - He is clearly a performer and he can sing, too. He lays it on thick. How could you not put this dude through just for the over-the-top entertainment value. He’s in. 

Alejandro Aranda.  ( “Yellow” Coldplay) His voice is very subtle. He’s very singular. I am more mesmerized by his guitar playing than his voice. He’s in. 

Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon. ( “Landslide” Fleetwood Mac) He is the man whose religious parents can’t expect his sexual orientation. They aren’t there for him. This song definitely speaks to him and he emotes with all his heart. He’s in. 

Shayy ( “All I Ask” Adele) She starts strong but has some serious pitch issues. Much be nerves. Too bad. She could have been a nice addition to the top 20. She’s out. 

Three folks we’ve barely or never heard of get cut: 

Mica Giaconi, Payton Taylor, Idalis Marie.

Riley Thompson. ( “Mama’s Broken Heart” Miranda Lambert) She’s one of those precocious kids with a great voice and super sweet look but is she an artist yet? We’ll see. She makes it. 

Three singers that make the top 20 only get quick overviews:

Raquel Trinidad – Rich Girl by Hall And Oates . She is very hippy like. 

Duluth’s Shawn Robinson – Rock With You by Michael Jackson – He definitely has an MJ vocal sound. 

Bumbly – Baby by Clean Bandit, Marina & Luis Fonsi . Another effort to get some real Latin flair onto the show. 

Wade Cota. ( “Work Song” Hozier) He is pretty sheltered and lacks confidence. He thought flying to Hawaii required a passport. He is all rasp so he picked a good artist to cover. It works. He’s in. 

Margie Mays. Odd song choice of “All About that Bass” considering she’s pretty skinny. The entire performance as a little too precious for my taste. Plus, she was aware her vocals were not sharp. She’s out.

Eddie Island. ( “Don’t You Worry Child”) He’s okay. I find his vocals decent. I am not sure if there is enough there there. The judges love him more than I do. He’s in. 

Laine Hardy. ( “Come Together” Beatles) He’s confident and for good reason. He owns this song and the stage. I could see him winning the whole kit and kaboodle. He’s in.

Tyler Mitchell. ( “Suitcase” Steve Moakler) He’s boring. His vocals don’t cut through. He’s out. 

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About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
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