AMERICAN IDOL -"216 (Woodstock and Show Stoppers)" - The stakes are high as the remaining "American Idol" finalists sing their hearts out in hopes of winning America's vote and advancing to the next phase of the competition. In this episode, each contestant will perform one inspirationally powerful "showstopper" song, with the help of former Idol hopeful and now GRAMMY¨ Award-winning artist, Lauren Daigle, who serves as celebrity guest mentor. Each finalist will also take on a song performed at the famed Woodstock music festival in 1969, which remains one of the most historic moments in popular music history. Sunday night's show will be the final opportunity for the judges to use their coveted save on one contestant this season. Last season's second runner-up and powerhouse vocalist, Gabby Barrett, returns to the Idol stage to perform her latest song, "I Hope," claiming her the No. 1 spot on Radio Disney Country's Top 50 Chart and continuing to rise to the Top 3 on SiriusXM's "The Highway." The journey to find the next superstar continues SUNDAY, MAY 5 (8:00-10:01 p.m. EDT/5:00-7:01 p.m. PDT), on The ABC Television Network. (ABC/Eric McCandless) LAINE HARDY, ALEJANDRO ARANDA, WADE COTA, MADISON VANDENBURG, LACI KAYE BOOTH
Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC
Photo: Eric McCandless/ABC

Who made the ‘American Idol’ finals? 

Originally posted Sunday, May 12, 2019 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

The top three competing for the season 17 “American Idol” crown next Sunday: Laine Hardy, Madison Vandenburg and Alejandro Aranda.

Cut: Wade Cota and Laci Kaye Booth, who received the judges’ save last week. 

I actually called the top three, better than I did last week when my final three pick Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon was shockingly not given the judges’ save. 

Next Sunday will be a three-hour season finale with live voting. The final three will be one by 11 p.m. EST.  This is the first year “Idol” has gone to live voting for the finale. 

Weezer, Adam Lambert and Carrie Underwood will perform. And the hometown visit videos will be shown as well. 

Tonight, each of the five singers sang three songs: one by Elton John, one picked by mentor Bobby Bones and one dedicated to their chosen hero. 

My assessment of the top five going into tonight:

Alejandro has a notable following and is so distinctive, he could ultimately win this easily. Laine has been a favorite but he isn’t nearly as interesting as Alejandro. I am not a huge fan of Madison simply because I think she’s not quite ready but she is the only pure pop singer left. Wade made a nice comeback last week and continued to do well tonight but he got as far as he could. Laci peaked early and has been wilting. She didn’t deserve the save last week and tonight, she showed she is good, but not top three material. 

If anything, with Laine, Laci and Wade, there was a whole lotta raspy singing tonight, with Alejandro’s whispery lilt on top of that. Madison is the only one left who can hit the old-school power notes. 

Bobby Bones’ picks

Wade Cota “You are the Best Thing” Ray LaMontagne. He didn’t like the song pick at first but ultimately embraced it. It fits him well and he is now blossoming with confidence. He embraced this. Luke liked how he didn’t over-sing it. Grade: A-minus/B-plus

Laci Kaye Booth  “The House That Built Me” Miranda Lambert. This was a great song for Laci. She brought a lot of emotion to it and sung it well. But you can tell that her confidence (as opposed to Wade) is slipping. She shouldn’t be nervous at this point and you can feel those nerves. Katy tried to give her a pep talk: “Keep turning it up a notch.” Grade: B-plus

Alejandro Aranda “No Woman, No Cry” Bob Marley. The verses are virtually unrecognizable but not in a bad way. He had barely any time so he squeezed in just one verse and a chorus. But he does what he does with the song and it worked just fine. Grade: A-minus

Laine Hardy. “Can’t You See” Marshall Tucker Band. He is so easygoing and so smooth, he lacks edge when he needs it. It may simply be youth and lack of life experience. He is going to age like fine wine. Katy practically begged him to dig in harder. Grade: A-minus/B-plus

Madison Vandenburg “What About Us” Pink. This song is about betrayal of some sort and so much pain. Pink knows about pain. Madison? She does a perfectly serviceable rendition, highlighting her vocal strengths. But she can only play act the emotions. Grade: B

Elton John songs

Wade Cota “Rocket Man” Vocally, this was shaky but he made up for it with attitude and yes, those absurd Elton sunglasses. Grade: B-plus

Laci Kaye Booth “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting.” She was clearly not comfortable with this type of performance but she managed to pull it off without embarrassing herself, giving a little country feel. She showed a different side of herself and it was... okay. Grade: B

Alejandro Aranda “Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word” The perfect song choice for him. It’s a sad ballad which doesn’t require big range. And he can emote the heck out of it. Grade: A/A-minus

Madison Vandenburg “Your Song” This was one of the stronger performances. I liked it. She seemed to connect with this one pretty well. Grade: A-minus

Laine Hardy “Something in the Way You Look Tonight” Now that’s a statement outfit! It’s nice to see him without his guitar. His rasp worked just right for this song. Katy said he pushed himself and noticed he had some vocal coaching. Grade: A

“Hero” dedication songs

Wade Cota  “Hard Luck Woman” Kiss. His tribute to his parents was ultra-sweet. He made that look easy. It was a hard-felt rendition. Grade: A-minus/A

Laci Kaye Booth  “Dreams” Fleetwood Mac. Right in her wheelhouse and she finally hit the right emotional note tonight. She ended strong though it’s probably not enough. There’s zero chance she makes the top three. Grade: A-minus

Madison Vandenburg “Make You Feel Your Love” Bob Dylan. She is singing this for her song so it made it easy for her to emote sincerely. And this song is a great “Idol” song for someone like Madison. This was my favorite performance of hers in ages. Grade: A

Laine Hardy “Hey Jude” The Beatles. A nearly seven-minute song condensed to two... But he manage to make it work. I definitely left wanting more. It’s such a classic song. He didn’t mess with it and it still rocked. Grade: A-minus/B-plus

Alejandro Aranda “Blesser” original. A musical mentor George helped inspire him. So he sang an original. He does some impressive piano work while singing this very jazzy tune. This just cemented his top three. He has true artistry, whether you like him or not. Grade: A/A-minus

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

About the Author

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