Georgia has had several singers make the top 5 on ABC’s “American Idol” in 21 seasons. Douglasville’s Megan Danielle is now part of that illustrious group.
She joins the likes of Tamyra Gray (fourth, season one), Diana DeGarmo (runner up, season three), Lauren Alaina (runner up, season 10), Phillip Phillips (winner, season 11), Caleb Lee Hutchinson (runner up, season 16) and the late Willie Spence (runner up, season 19).
Danielle is also one of two singers in the top 5 who previously competed on NBC’s “The Voice. She finished in the top 9 season 18 in 2020, the season that had to scrap the live shows due to the pandemic. She was more a pop-rock performer back then and even joined a band playing in bars after the show ended.
But at the behest of her now late grandfather, the 20-year-old switched to Christian-leaning pop, country and gospel. So far on “Idol,” that refocus has served her well. She isn’t the most dynamic stage performer, but the judges have embraced her emotive, gravelly voice.
On Sunday’s episode, mentor Alanis Morissette (who also served as a substitute judge while Katy Perry was performing at King Charles’ coronation in England) told Danielle to sing her song “Head Over Feet” “a little less beautifully” and to try to sing it as if she were having a conversation with her boyfriend.
“Really soulful,” Morissette said in reaction. “Really expressing that ambivalence. I’m used to being so hard on myself yet here is this person across from me loving me so well and expressing that really authentically. God bless you!”
“I genuinely forgot for a second we were on ‘American Idol’,” said the second substitute judge Ed Sheeran, taking the place of Lionel Richie, who joined Perry in England. “Your tone is incredible. It’s very, very unique. I was really really impressed.”
Luke Bryan, the one regular judge, said she laid it in the pocket and “made it real inviting.”
She also performed a melodious duet with fellow top 5 finisher Colin Stough covering Sheeran’s “Dive.”
Sheeran: “Whoever put you together is a genius. You complement each other so well.”
Morissette: “That plaintive cry you both have. It was really connected and familial.”
Bryan: “I’m just smiling at our babies up on stage. What was amazing is Megan you really do great with these big tricky runs. Then Colin did an Ed Sheeran run.”
The other “Voice” alum on “Idol” is We Ani, who finished third during season 11 of “The Voice” back in 2016. She is known to have a Macy Gray-type raspy speaking voice coupled with a powerful singing voice.
Several contestants have appeared on both singing competition shows over the past decade, which shows how difficult it is to break into the music business nowadays despite the TV exposure. “Idol” has a better track record overall in terms of generating stars than “The Voice,” but “Idol” had a nine-year head start over “The Voice” as well.
On MJ’s Big Blog, which has tracked “Idol” for more than 17 years, “Idol” fans in a poll ranked Danielle’s “Head Over Feet” third best behind Ani’s “Uninvited” and Stough’s “Hand in My Pocket.” Voters also liked the Danielle/Stough duet the best.
And if MJ’s blog followers were indicative of the actual voters (which isn’t necessarily the case), the top three next Sunday would be Ani, Danielle and Hawaiian singer Iam Tongi. Ani would also be the favorite to take the “Idol” crown the week after.
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