Who made it into the top 4 (or 5) on ‘American Idol’?

Originally posted Sunday, May 5, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

The top four tonight were Laine Hardy, Madison Vandenburg, Alejandro Aranda and Wade Cota.

With Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon and Laci Kaye Booth in the bottom two, the judges had an opportunity to pick one to save. They chose... Laci! 

I am stunned Jeremiah was not picked over Laci. I really thought he was getting stronger and better and Laci had peaked. Personally, I would take Jeremiah over Madison and Wade and at this point, even over Laine and Alejandro. So shoot me. 

Nonetheless, this was a stronger top six than last year’s crew. There was not a  true dud performance tonight. A couple disappointed but I was wowed by at least three or four. 

My ranking of the top 12: 1- Jeremiah “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” 2- Alejandro “Poison” 3- Wade “Through the Valley” 4- Jeremiah” Somewhere” 5- Laine “I Don’t Need No Doctor” 6- Laci “To Love Somebody” 7 - Madison “I Surrender” 8- Wade “With a Little Help From My Friends” 9- Alejandro “White Rabbit” 10- Laci “Open Arms” 11- Laine “Johnny B. Goode 12- Madison “Piece of My Heart”

Lauren Daigle, the Christian artist, provided some great coaching advice for the show stopper portion. The first half was in honor of the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. 

Madison Vandenburg “Piece of My Heart” Janis Joplin. Janis was edgy. She brought heartache to this song. She sang the song with a goopy smile. It was a nice cover but she’s just 17 and I didn’t really feel a connection with the lyrics. Judges gave her equally goopy praise. This song has been covered at least seven times before on “Idol,” from Carrie Underwood to Jax. Oddly, I thought Crystal Bowersox had done it but she only did it on the “Idol” tour. Grade: B

Laine Hardy “I Don’t Need No Doctor’ Joe Cocker. A perfect bluesy song for Laine to chew on. He brings out the charm and locks in with just enough grit to make it work. Lionel: “You care creating the core of who you are.” And yes, Laine wore a cool jacket. Katy provided some useful advice is to sing a song that will scare him, to go outside his comfort zone. Grade: A-minus

Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” Joan Baez. Having his parents show up last week seemed to have loosened him up. Of course, being a church child, he picked a song he knew well and was able to turn into a gospel rave. He was comfortable, he was warm, he was on target. He is as safe as can be. Grade: A

Laci Kaye Booth “To Love Somebody” Janis Joplin. She owned this one and sounded gritty great. I liked the vibe though Katy was right: she was a wee bit too stiff on stage and that might cost her in votes. Lionel also said she didn’t seem to be working the crowd. Grade: A-minus

Alejandro Aranda. “White Rabbit” Jefferson Airplane. Early Jefferson Airplane was very trippy. That is perfect for an EDM man like Alejandro. Not my kind of music but Alejandro blends that 60s drug-induced atmosphere with some modern heat. Grade: B-plus

Wade Cota “With a Little Help From My Friends” Joe Cocker. Given how much he sounds like Joe Cocker, he of course had to cover Cocker. It’s a clean cover but it’s such a great arena song, it worked well for him and he embraced it 100%.He moved around the stage with verve and would have been even better if he had been able to lay the entire song. Grade: B-plus

Gabby Barrett (third place season 16) “I Hope.”  A pretty decent song and she sang it with plenty of urgency. She is now part of Warner Brothers Nashville and is engaged to fourth-place finisher Cade Foehner

Show-stopping songs with guidance from Lauren Daigle, now a Grammy-winning Christian artist with pop crossover appeal. She auditioned for “Idol” season 9 and got cut just before the top 24. 

Madison “I Surrender” Celine Dion. I like her voice, don’t love it. She has power but she doesn’t hit me on a deeper level. But she did powerhouse herself through this without too many issues. Katy is right: she felt this song more than some other ones. Grade: A-minus/B-plus

Alejandro “Poison” an original song. This is the right time to rise to the occasion and he did. Sure, he whispers but his tone is lovely and he is so confident and in his own zone during his own song. Plus, his guitar playing is incredible. While the judges often blow smoke, they are right: this is his best vocal to date. Grade: A

Laci “Open Arms” Journey. Like Alejandro, she has never had any real vocal training so Lauren was helpful. She gave it a much different interpretation than Steve Perry and it was pretty good. Was it enough to keep her around? No. When she tried to belt, she simply lacked the power to pull that off. And she knew it. Bottom line: the competition for votes is too great. Grade: B-plus

Jeremiah “Somewhere” Barbra Streisand. He shows off his range and power by tackling Barbra. He followed Lauren’s advice to ensure that he connected with every word in the song. This was yet another powerhouse performance and that last note! Wow! Grade: A

Wade Cota “Through the Valley” Shawn James. Lauren helped him get all the bad negative energy out of him, the worries about messing up. He didn’t mess up. Instead, it was another bravura moment tonight. He took that song and absorbed it into his soul. That was incredible. Katy: “You finally started believing in yourself.” Grade: A

Laine Hardy “Johnny B. Goode” Chuck Berry. This is an odd choice. It’s fun and it forces Laine to move around (a little) but vocally, there isn’t much to it. It’s more a guitar song. And he is so smooth and effortless, the entire performance feels like the end of a cover band party, not the end of a night of great “Idol” performances. Grade: B

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About the Author

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