‘American Idol’ top 24 recap, part two solos and celebrity duets

Chayce Beckham performing during "American Idol" airing Monday, April 5, 2021. (ABC/Eric McCandless)
Chayce Beckham performing during "American Idol" airing Monday, April 5, 2021. (ABC/Eric McCandless)

Credit: ABC

Credit: ABC

While night one of “American Idol” Sunday featured mostly consistently good performances, Monday was a mixed bag.

This was part two of 24 singers doing solos and celebrity duets.

Next Sunday, we find out the top 16, which would consist of the top eight vote-getters each night.

Among these 12, I adored three, liked a couple more but was mostly meh on the rest.

My top 12:

1: Ava 2: Chayce 3: Madison 4: Mary Jo 5: Casey 6: Jason 7: Caleb 8: Liohana 9: Hunter 10: Beane 11: Hannah 12: Colin

I would love to see an Ava/Chayce/Alyssa in the final three.

My prediction on the four who will go home: Hannah, Liohana, Jason and Hunter.

Jason Warrior (”Call Out of My Name” The Weeknd) — He is able to tell a story and emote with all his gospel grace, landing on his knees at the end of the spare 100 seconds he is given.

Duet with PJ Morton (”How Deep Is Your Love” Bee Gees) — Jason wants to take his music outside the church. He is really oversinging this. It’s super-stylized with lots of off-beats. Their voices blend poorly. Morton feels much freer and easier.

Judges: Katy says it was the best solo and duet performance she has seen so far but wants more artistic presentation. Luke likes how he leaves it out there and getting “sweaty and dirty and entertaining.” Lionel says it doesn’t get better than that.

Grade: B/B-plus

Madison Watkins (”Holy” Justin Bieber) — She radiates personality and her 1980s fashion choices, however odd, somehow work for her. Her voice is powerful if not terribly distinctive.

Duet with Tori Kelly (”Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing” Stevie Wonder) — They connect on multiple levels. This is the song Tori sang in the animated movie “Sing” as Meena, the elephant. Tori is showboating big time. But Madison doesn’t slink away. She holds her own in this fun vocal battle.

Judges: Luke says she’s such a natural entertainer, and her look is so striking. “Sometimes all of that makes us lose your voice, but your voice really showed up today. You really showcased your voice I personally had not seen yet. This is what this part of the competition is about.” Lionel says Madison reacted to what Tori was doing and “nailed it.” Katy says they had vocal Olympics. “Keep bringing those moments that stand out!”

Grade; A-minus/A

Beane (”Don’t Start Now” Dua Lipa) — He is pitchy at points and makes some really odd vocal choices. What a bizarre rendition.

Duet with Josh Groban (”Angels” Robbie Williams) — I think I just fundamentally don’t like Beane’s voice. And up against the angelic vocal magic of Josh, Beane just pales in comparison. And he’s already pretty pale. Beane definitely sounds better than he did during his solo and carries a sweet smile.

Judges: Lionel says he made them notice him. Katy says she’d sign him and lauded him for his “incredible artistic vision.” He also made some great runs during the duet. Luke says he’s growing with every phase of this competition and slayed it with Josh.

Grade: B-minus/C-plus

Hannah Everhart (”I Was Wrong” Chris Stapleton) — She has a super unique voice but man, she hits some awful notes on the upper register and the whole performance goes sideways.

Duet with Jason Aldean (”She’s Country”) — She is far better playing off Jason, but she’s a bit shouty during some of her solo moments.

Judges: Katy says there were moments that didn’t hit the “bulls-eye” during the solo but appreciates her risk-taking. Luke says her personality is infectious and once her talent catches up, it will be fun to watch. Lionel says she “handled” Jason well.

Grade: C-plus

Mary Jo Young (”Castle on the Hill” Ed Sheeran) — I like her voice and all its flaws. She starts a bit uncertainly, but once she is in the chorus, she warms up. It’s overall a bit sloppy.

Duet with Jewel (”Foolish Games”) — The TikTok star didn’t know what “unison” meant. Seriously! (She’s 19.) Mary Jo’s voice can be a bit reedy, and she doesn’t have as much range as most of the other female singers. But she possesses a likable personality and a jagged texture in her voice that complemented Jewel nicely.

Judges: Luke says she has the star quality thing. Lionel says she’s young and fresh and represents her generation. Katy says she has streamlined and gotten pro and is becoming an artist “before our very eyes.”

Grade: B-plus/A-minus

Chayce Beckham (”Afterglow” Ed Sheeran) — This is the man I see as the likeliest winner in part because he fits the template that has won many times before. He has a bit of that Bruce grit in her voice and gives this Sheeran song some extra grit. He hits the mark. Then again, recent winners haven’t been the guitar-wielding pop-rock dudes of the late 2000s.

Duet with Brandon Boyd (”Drive” Incubus) — Chayce just clicks with Brandon and sounds amazing, arguably better than Brandon himself.

Judges: Lionel says he needs to engage the judges more. Katy says he reminds her of Alejandro Aranda from season 17. Luke says he has “this cool thing,” and he kicked it up a notch during the duet.

Grade: A

Colin Jamieson (”Locked Out of Heaven” Bruno Mars) — He has a breathy, weak voice and a hideous man bun. I hate everything about this dude.

Duet with Tori Kelly (”Hollow”) — These two actually work well together, and the harmonies are pretty good. But I still find him lacking when he’s singing solo. He’ll probably get the votes into the top 16, though.

Judges: Katy says he looks like he plays 300 shows a year. Luke says he has fun in the moment. Lionel says he knows the secret and treats the stage like his living room.

Grade: C

Liahona Olayan (”Just Friends” Audrey Mika) — Her vocals are adequate, but she feels like part of the Glee Club in high school, not a genuine performing artist. Her dance moves feel rehearsed, not organic.

Duet with PJ Morton (”Say So”) — Liahona told PJ that vulnerability is hard for her. Her last duet was a disaster. She was trying too hard. She needs to feel the song, not make people feel the song. “Less head, more heart,” PJ told her. Surprisingly, PJ elevates her, and she actually does let go a bit and shows some vulnerability. This is my favorite Liohona performance to date.

Judges: Luke says she is so talented and considers her “radio ready.” Lionel says she has come so far from that shy person to now and loved her note placement, her interaction. Katy likes her leaning in and says she is the whole package.

Grade: B

Ava August (”Driver’s License” Olivia Rodrigo) — Smart song choice given her age. She brings so much honest emotion to her performance. It’s a bravura winner.

Duet with Josh Groban (”Both Sides Now’ Joni Mitchell) — She and Josh give this song a great emotional ride. I liked it so much, I watched it twice. It’s such a sad song, and this duet is sublime.

Judges: Lionel says she is singing far beyond her age. Katy says she’s an old soul and her soul says “I’m going to do it right, ace this test of life and become that queen.” Luke says he felt like he was watching Judy Garland up there.

Grade: A

Caleb Kennedy (”Midnight Rider” Allman Brothers ) — His performances seem to have a karaoke quality to them. He does an excellent rendition of other country singers. And geez, lift your cap so we can see your eyes!

Duet with Jason Aldean (”Fly Over States”) — Caleb said the song came out, he was in kindergarten. He’s just 16. He’s going without the guitar and is nervous. This song is a bit of a snoozer to me, but that’s my feeling for most Aldean tunes. Caleb lacks any real distinction and that may be in part due to his youth.

Judges: Katy says he is so authentically himself. Luke says he sounds like himself or something like that. Luke says he has so much promise.

Grade: B-minus

Hunter Metts (”Chandelier” Sia) — This is a terrible song choice for Hunter. He tries to turn it into a quieter, even more pensive pop song from the original. It’s not bad but it doesn’t help him in any way.

Duet with Jewel (”Who Will Save the Soul”) — Jewel wants him to take more vocal risks and hit some bigger moments. Unfortunately, he looks distinctly uncomfortable on stage with her for much of the duet. He does finish strong with a nice back and forth with Jewel, but it’s a bit too little, too late.

Judges: Luke says he has a distinctive voice, even when he’s having an off night (without directly saying he’s having an off night, which he is). Lionel says he is a stylist but needs to be more confident and lean forward. Katy says she could see fear in his eyes.

Grade: B-minus

Casey Bishop (”Decode” Paramore) — She has a beautiful voice that could work in different genres but is just fine for rock. She has attitude and intensity to spare. This brief solo left me wanting more.

Duet with Brandon Boyd (”Wish You Were Here”) — Brandon says a way to get rid of his nervousness before is to hit a superhero pose for two minutes before getting on stage. Her self-confidence on stage is impressive. This isn’t the best song to showcase her vocals, but she does just fine.

Judges: Lionel says talent is in abundance, and she is one of the special ones in the group, owning the stage. Katy says she wants to be even angrier. Luke agrees and says she needs to blow it up even more.

Grade: A-minus/B-plus

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