‘American Idol’ top 7 Disney night recap

John Stamos with Caleb Kennedy at Disney World as shown on the May 2, 2021 episode of "American Idol." (Disney/Kent Phillips)
Caption
John Stamos with Caleb Kennedy at Disney World as shown on the May 2, 2021 episode of "American Idol." (Disney/Kent Phillips)

Credit: The Walt Disney Company

Arthur Gunn returns and makes the top 7

This is the week of super ABC/Disney synergy where the contestants visited Disney World in Florida, go on rides with family and feed advice from actor John Stamos, who is on a new Disney+ show “Big Shot.” The “Full House” star’s primary musical cred is playing drums with the Beach Boys.

From the top 10 during a live coast-to-coast vote Sunday night, the three cut were Cassandra Coleman (the Florence Welch soundalike), Alyssa Wray (the big theatrical voice) and DeShawn Concalves (the gospel soul guy).

Cassandra blossomed and improved over time, and I found her voice super enticing. Alyssa was inconsistent, and I didn’t always like her song choices. DeShawn seemed to have a breakout performance Sunday, but it wasn’t enough.

In the meantime, Hunter Metts, a weak pretty boy singer, somehow survives. Caleb Kennedy, the only country singer left, keeps pulling in votes as well. Casey Bishop is young and pretty and unformed but sings very well and also made the cut.

Georgia’s male diva-like Willie Spence remains a contender to win, as does growly singer-songwriter Chayce Beckham. Their biggest competition now is singer-songwriter Arthur Gunn, who returns from almost winning last year to grab the “comeback” slot. Grace Kinstler is the only other woman left in the top 7, and she has a huge voice, which doesn’t necessarily mean she can win.

Next week will feature Coldplay songs and a dedication to mom on Mother’s Day.

Caleb Kennedy (”Real Gone” by Sheryl Crow from “Cars”) — Stamos’ advice is find a spot during parts of the song to lock eyes with each of the judges. He is hardly great in terms of stage presence, but he did pick the right song for himself. It enabled him to rock out and feel comfortable.

Grade: B-plus

Judges: Katy lauded his improvement and song choice. Luke said he’s giving them the glimpse of his future artistry. Lionel said that was a “radiating performance.”

Willie Spence (”Circle of Life” by Elton John from “The Lion King”) — Stamos calls Willie a “big teddy bear.” He recalled his grandpa bringing him to Disney when he was 5 years old, a man who just died last month. “Your smile is the greatest thing,” Stamos said. “Don’t be afraid to let that come out.” He starts slowly but build up to some nice big notes toward the end. I always found this song a supreme bore, and well, that didn’t change.

Grade: B

Judges: Luke says he has the magic. Lionel calls him a stylist and uses the tiresome “you can sing the phone book” line. Katy said the arrangement was sparkly, and it was very spiritual.

DeShawn Concalves (”When You Wish Upon a Star’ by Jiminy Cricket from “Pinnochio”) — Stamos felt like he was not singing out enough and wondered if he would connect with the jazz. DeShawn surprisingly does a lovely job by giving the song a different feel. He is definitely getting better on stage, and this was his most fun performance to date. He has a knack for this jazzy standards style.

Grade: A-minus

Judges: Katy says she’s met him for the very first time and was amazed how comfortable he was. “True growth and not in the nose capacity.” Luke says he was grinning so big while watching him. “You are not the same person who showed up at audition.”

Casey Bishop (”When She Loved Me” by Sarah McLachlan from “Toy Story 2″) - She is only 15 and is a bit of a mystery as an artist to me. She has a great voice and was able to capture the angst in this song quite well. But she seems kind of undefined to me at this stage of her life. I tend to forget about her the minute the show is over.

Grade: B-plus/A-minus

Judges: Katy says she has shown so many different colors. Luke says she gave him chills and is a “superstar in the making.” Lionel says she has stage presence, poise and delivery.

Chayce Beckham (”Baby Mine” from “Dumbo”) — As usual, he takes an ancient song and modernizes and molds it to his own style. He is very comfortable on stage and exudes a cool vibe that never gets dull.

Grade: A-minus

Judges: Luke says that performance is so very Chayce. “Your artistry is not about overdoing. It’s about you going out and having a solid, great amazing song and delivering it in your style.” Lionel says Chayce has to loosen up just a bit. Katy says he took a lullaby and made it a Goo Goo Dolls alt-rock twist.

Alyssa Wray (”A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” from “Cinderella”) - She opens promisingly but her little non-singing “ah” sequence is a little twee and then she gets very very loud. She does reel it back nicely at the end.

Grade: B

Judges: Lionel loved it. Katy liked her control.

Arthur Gunn (”Remember Me” from “Coco”) — He is the controversial comeback kid from last year. He almost won season 18, so the fact he’s back is not surprising at all. The question: will his fan base keep him aloft, or will people who support the purity of “Idol” purposely not vote for him and throw more votes at the other season 19 contestants? Anyway, he picks a great song from a great movie and wants to do it in a more positive vein. Stamos recommends he watches the movie, and it will change the way he feels about the song. Arthur sticks to his guns and makes it more of a pure pop song and does an impressively professional job. It’s hard not to like the guy.

Grade: A-minus/A

Judges: Katy says that was one of his best performances she’s ever seen of him, complimenting his improved enunciation. Luke says he’s authentic across the board.

BREAK: John Batiste does an amazingly spirited version of “It’s Alright” with a bit of “Shout” thrown in.

Cassandra Coleman (”Go the Distance” by Michael Bolton from “Hercules”) — She’s a big “Star Wars” fan. She feels more confident and deserves to be in the top 10. I’ve always connected with her vulnerable vocal styling. As usual, her flaws are what makes her so compelling. She no longer has that “deer in headlights” look she had during the early Hollywood rounds.

Grade: A-minus/A

Judges: Luke says it was her best vocal to date. Katy says she leaned into the theme.

Hunter Metts (”You’ll Be In My Heart” by Phil Collins in “Tarzan”) — He’s very pleasant and cute, but the fact he’s even in the top 10 seems to be based on something I can’t see. He by far has the weakest voice of all the remaining singers. This feels very weak in a mildly pleasant way, and his lack of stage presence doesn’t really help. I do like his shirt. And he remembered all the words.

Grade: C-plus

Judges: Luke calls his voice “recognizable.”

Grace Kinstler (”Into The Unknown” by Idina Menzel from “Frozen 2″) — This is an ideal song for her voice. She sounds similar to Idina Menzel, the original singer. She emotes a lot of big big notes and gets most of them. The difficulty level here is insanely high, and she makes it look like a walk in the park.

Grade: A-minus

Judges: Luke says she has the eye of the tiger.

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