AMERICAN IDOL - "215" - The "American Idol" finalists continue their journey in the competition, paying tribute to one of the world's most iconic bands, Queen. In this episode, each contestant will take on a song from the legendary Queen catalogue, before partnering up for classic movie duet performances. Helping to prepare the Top 8 to rock the stage is "American Idol" alumnus and GRAMMY¨-nominated artist Adam Lambert, who acts as celebrity guest mentor. Since first appearing on "American Idol" in 2009, Lambert has gone on to release four albums, has appeared in numerous hit television series and is currently touring the U.S. with Queen. The journey to find the next superstar continues SUNDAY, APRIL 28 (8:00-10:01 p.m. EDT/5:00-7:01 p.m. PDT), on The ABC Television Network. (ABC/Eric McCandless) ADAM LAMBERT, LAINE HARDY
Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC
Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC

Who made the top six on “American Idol”?

Originally posted Sunday, April 28, 2019 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

It’s Queen night with Adam Lambert as the coach. For “Idol” vets, this is a great combo: classic rock with a classic “Idol” alum. There are also movie-themed duets. 

The two who were out during the live vote: Walker Burroughs and Alyssa Raghu. They are two young singers not quite comfortable in their own skin, still trying to develop as artists. 

The surviving six: Laine Hardy, Madison Vandenburg, Laci Kaye Booth, Alejandro Aranda, Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon and Wade Cota

Wade really botched his performance but survived because the live vote is more about popularity, less about the actual performance at hand. And Wade clearly has a fan base. When he survived, you could read on his face that he felt he didn’t deserve it. 

Lambert, a natural performer, dispensed great advice to the contestants. If only “Idol” could get him to be a judge or full-time mentor/coach. 

Here is my ranking of the eight solo performances, followed by a ranking of the four duets. 

1- Laci Kaye Booth “Love of My Life” Adam told her that her nerves can be funneled into a ballad like this for her advantage. And he told her to take some breaks between some words to give it proper emotional resonance. She followed his advice and her raspy voice matches just right on this song about heartbreak. Grade: A/A-minus

2.  Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon “Who Wants to Live Forever.” He’s super nervous because his parents are showing up for the first time. He started doing a folksy version but Adam said he should drop the guitar and re-arrange it. It starts a little slow, a little tentative, but he gradually builds to a peak note and gives the audience shivers. Katy: “You really embodied the spirit of Freddie Mercury in that performance.” Lionel helped the band take it to the next level. His dad said: “I think he’s the best one here.” Grade: A-minus/B-plus

3- Walker Burroughs “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.” The super awkward, super charming kid brings both elements in spades during his performance. He has a bit of that Clay Aiken in him, which means he will likely go far in this competition. The judges give him a sustained standing ovation. Katy: “You used all of your appendages.” Luke: “Endearing. Lionel: “Don’t think at all.” Grade: B-plus

4- Laine Hardy “Fat Bottomed Girls”  Adam said he needs to loosen up and just enjoy himself, to unleash his “inner rock star.” He tried but didn’t quite pull it off. There were some super awkward moments as he tried to get the audience to wave their arms. He should have gotten rid of his crutch (his guitar) and just run around the stage. He gets points for at least trying to get outside of his comfort zone. Grade: B

5- Ayssa Raghu “Somebody to Love” Alyssa did about as good as she possibly could given the circumstances. She had a Peter Brady moment at the opening but recovered nicely. She didn’t quite hit that power note the way Freddie did but who could? There is no way she will make the top six. She simply isn’t quite an artist yet. She’s only 17. Grade: B

6- Alejandro Aranda “Under Pressure.” Of course, he’s going to Alejandro the song with his acoustic guitar. Adam is supportive. This is so weird. The song is about intensity and pressure and Alejandro is the antithesis of that. He’s all mellow and sweet and the turns this song into “Under Meditation.” Honestly, it’s just bizarre but it’s hard not to watch and not turn away.  Lionel: “You are an artist and amazing stylist.” Grade: B-minus

7. Madison Vandenburg “The Show Must Go On” Adam notes that she makes it look almost too easy belting out her notes. He says to try to give the audience the feel like she’s struggling even a little bit. He wants her to be more theatrical and own the stage more. But she doesn’t get it. She smiles goofily during the song when it demands edge, drama, a “take me seriously” feel. Instead, it felt “High School Musical” instead. More proof she needs serious maturation. Lionel and Luke gave her ridiculously over-the-top praise but Katy provided useful constructive criticism: “You need to take it up a few more notches... Your body is not yet connected.” Grade: B-minus

8. Wade Cota “We are the Champions” This is a huge risk of a song to tackle but Wade said he’s been singing it for years in the bars. Adam said he needs to just stand there and capture the song’s drama. I thought Wade started strong but then he botched the second verse. It rattled him. You could see it and his moment was lost. What a shame. But the way voting is structured, it may not matter. Grade: C-plus

Movie-themed duets:

1. Laci Kaye Booth and Laine Hardy: “Jackson” from “Walk the Line.” A perfect song pick for both of them seeking votes from the current “Idol” audience. And it fits the well. These two are so adorable together and vocally, it’s a home run. If they aren’t romantically involved, they are great actors!  Lionel: “Both of you look so comfortable.” Katy: “I would say you guys were connected. I’ve never seen you smiling so much Laine! Watch out, Caleb and Maddie!” Grade: A

2. Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon and Madison Vandenburg “A Million Reasons” from “The Greatest Showman.” They worked so well together and their vocals were exceptional on this very theatrical song. Katy said they balanced each other. Grade: A-minus/A

3- Alyssa Raghu and Wade Cota “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Marvin Gaye and Tami Terrell. That was a bizarro combo that somehow worked. So much contrast but both leaned into it and had fun. Grade: B-plus/A-minus

4. Walker Burroughs and Alejandro Aranda “Mrs. Robinson” from “The Graduate.” Clearly, Mr. Whisperer Alejandro made the song his own and Walker basically imitated Alejandro. I wasn’t a big fan of this arrangement but it’s oh so Alejandro. Grade: C-plus

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About the Author

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