AMERICAN IDOL - "212 (Top 14)" - After the "American Idol" Top 20 tackled solo and celebrity duet performances, the judges narrowed down the field, revealing the Top 14 finalists. Now, they are handing over the reigns to America, who will vote to crown the next "American Idol." In this episode, the Top 14 contestants will perform on the iconic Idol stage for the first time, in hopes of winning over the hearts of viewers and being voted through to the next phase of the competition. The search for America's next superstar continues on The ABC Television Network, SUNDAY, APRIL 14 (8:00-10:01 p.m. EDT), streaming and on demand. (ABC/Eric McCandless) MADISON VANDENBURG
Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC
Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC

Ranking the ‘American Idol’ top 14: which four will go home?

Originally posted Monday, April 15, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

First day of live voting for “American Idol” this season will pare the top 14 to the top 10 Monday night.

This was also the only time you can vote after the show ends. For the next five weeks, voting will be live coast to coast with results at the end of each show.
There were 10 very good to great performances tonight. So it was easy to glop off the bottom four for me (Evelyn, Eddie, Riley and Alyssa.)

The top 5 was tougher but I adored both Laci and Uche for different reasons while Jeremiah, Dimitrius and Laine are not far behind. 

1. Laci Kaye Booth. “I Miss You” Blink-182. Holy smokes! She slowed this song up and made it work for her smokey voice perfectly. Changing up a song can be a game changer and it worked here. Bravura for Laci. Katy: “You sing timelessly. You are the definition of Idol.” Grade: A

2. Uche “Finesse” Bruno Mars. He took a relatively shapeless Bruno Mars song and made it his own. Every run, every vocal move was fine tuned with some great choreography. He is easily the best performer on the show and he hit the marks perfectly. Lionel’s useless critique: “You are wonderful. What you have managed to do is you’re the show stepper. Let me tell you, my friend, keep it going!” Grade: A

3. Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon “We All Fall in Love Sometimes” Elton John. WSB-TV in Atlanta had interrupted the singing for a tornado watch. I had to go to YouTube to hear it in full. He captures the complexities of this song and puts in the full weight of his emotional life into it. Lionel, in full ego pump mold, said he went past Freddie Mercury and “Jeremiah-ed” it. “Your career is going to be amazing!” he said. Katy gets tearful because he’s such a gift, a light to the world. Grade: A/A-minus

4. Dimitrius. “Perfect” Ed Sheeran. He is a master showman. He just stood there but created a lovely arc in two minutes, beginning with a very loyal version of the original, then breaking out gradually into an R&B crescendo at the end before settling softly again. It worked. Katy: “I can see the artist you want to be.” She wanted a little more emotion. Luke said he needs to use the microphone more. Lionel said he has the ability to be explosive. Grade: A-minus

5. Laine Hardy. “That’s Alright Mama” by Elvis Presley. Yup, Laine has that Elvis swagger. This was a bit too much of an imitation but he does it well with a natural grace and confidence. The senior voters will help him. Luke Bryan said he does need to loosen up but his vocals have improved from last year. Lione’s useless “advice”: “Do it some more.” GRADE: B-plus/A-minus

6. Wade Cota. “Trouble” Ray LaMontagne. He blames his raspiness from his metal singing days. This was a good song pick for him. Emotional with a lot of his trademark raspy edge. He builds the song up and it gets better as he goes along. Three previous singers on “Idol” had done it as well: Taylor Hicks, Chris Sligh and Alex Lambert (top 16, season 9) Lionel said he dropped “the hammer, my brother! I love it! I love it!” Katy: “Great song choice.” Grade: B-plus

7. Ashley Hess “Fix You” Coldplay. She brings the proper emotive modulation with a song that brings that helps people through all sorts of traumas. I still love her.  Katy said she looks like Diane Krall and sings like Carole King. Grade: B-plus

8. Walker Burroughs “Climb Ev’ry Mountain.” I like his look and his dorky earnestness and likability shines through. This works well with his soulful voice and he builds the song properly to its apex. Lionel’s useless praise: “Be very proud of where you are.” Grade: B-plus

9. Alejandro Arando. “One Dance” Drake. Social media man took a big chance here and it somehow works really well. I found this super entertaining via the DJing and singing a relatively shapeless song. Katy: “Incredibly smooth... a real true artist.” Grade: B-plus

10.  Madison VandenBurg “Fallin’” Alicia Keys. She is a true vocal talent but is still trying to figure out who she is. I have fallin’ in and out of love with her, more out lately. This doesn’t quite draw me back in but she should make the top 10 on that performance. Luke said he made a statement and become a diva. Lionel said she killed it, as if that was advice or anything. Katy liked the soul in her voice and she is her own person, not Kelly Clarkson-esque. Grade: B/B-plus

11. Riley Thompson “Suds in the Bucket” by Sara Evans. She really feels like a pageant girl in this one playing a country girl. I know she’s actually a country girl so the fact it doesn’t quite feel real to me is a problem. Kellie Pickler tried this song 13 years ago and she struggled, too. Lionel’s dopey comment: “You are crushing it! Keep it up! We love you.” Katy: “The only reason you keep going to the next level because you keep growing to the next level. It’s so natural.” Grade: B-minus

12. Alyssa Raghu. “She Used to Be Mine” by Sara Bareilles. She has an excellent voice but it isn’t all that distinctive. This song does serve her well. It provides her opportunity to show her emotional and vocal range. She started strong but things got mildly shaky at points toward the end. Katy said she needs to play with more dynamics. Luke said the opening grabbed her but she wasn’t able to maintain the momentum. Grade: B-minus

13. Eddie Island. “Bennie & the Jets” by Elton John. If Laine Hardy was channeling Elvis a wee bit too much, Eddie didn’t hide his affection for Elton. But this song showed that his voice can’t match the depths of Elton’s. Unlike Laine, the comparison is not flattering. Katy said it was really good and heard “the Counting Crows” in your voice. (Huh?) Grade: C

14. Evelyn Cormier “The Middle” Jimmy Eat World. Sheesh. This song is already almost as old as Evelyn is (17 years vs. 19 years.) Her voice isn’t just “odd,” it’s downright annoying. The enunciation, the breathiness, the tone, you name it. And this song in its original form (as she covers it) doesn’t remotely suit her. Please don’t vote for her! Yet the judges give her a standing ovation. Luke: “Was that a Van Halen leg kick I just saw?” Lionel: “That’s what show business is all about! Congratulations.” Katy: “That song was a crowd pleaser.” Grade: F

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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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