American Idol

Song by song grades for American Idol’s Top 10

American Idol's Top 10 return to the stage tonight for the judges song contest. (ABC Photo)

American Idol’s Top 10 return to the stage tonight for the judges song contest. (ABC Photo)


Three singers were supposed to go home Monday night on American Idol.

As it turned out, only two did.

Katy Perry, winner of the Judges Song Challenge, got to save one contestant.

After consulting with her colleagues, she decided to award that save to Oliver Steele.

That meant the elimination of Tyson Venegas and Marybeth Byrd.

Tyson was the last platinum ticket winner still standing. Marybeth was one of three former The Voice contestants to make the Top 10.

The other two — Megan Danielle and Wé Ani — advanced.

They’ll join Iam Tongi, Colin Stough, Zachariah Smith, Haven Madison amd Warren Peay — and Oliver, of course — in next Sunday’s Top 8.

I’ll be adding song by song grades to this blog later tonight.

See also …
Song by song grades for the Top 12
Photo gallery of the Top 12
Ranking the Top 12

1. Zachariah Smith, 20, Amory, Mississippi, “Wanted Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi — You can always count on Zachariah for a high-energy performance. In this case, I’m glad he took off the sunglasses before he started singing. That would have been too cheesy. You know what, Zachariah also delivered one of his better vocals to date. In fact, his last two performance have been my favorites from him. Lionel picked the song and called the edge in Zachariah’s voice “incredible.”Grade: B

2. Haven Madison, 17, Clarkesville, Tenn., “The Only Exception” by Paramore — This song is a better fit for Haven’s wheelhouse, an emotional ballad. Her voice sounds so sweet when she’s softly and with emotion. Unfortunately, once again, her pitch strayed when the song got big. Katy, who picked the song, called Haven “amazing.” She’s certainly looking like a star these days. Grade: C+

3. We Ani, 24, Harlem, NY, “I Have Nothing” by Whitney Houston — So last night, We dressed like a rock star and rocked the Idol stage like no one else. Tonight, she goes diva with her look and delivers a very diva-like performances of a Whitney Houston song. Folks, that’s versatility. Luke, who picked the song, called the performance “one of the most elegant things I’ve ever seen, just breathtaking.” Lionel said she slayed it. Grade: A–

4. Oliver Steele, 25, Mount Juliet, Tenn., “High and Dry” by Radiohead — I’ve been lukewarm on Oliver. He won me over with this performance. I thought he sounded great on this, both when he was singing softly and when his voice soared at the end, showing off his rasp. And he held that big not at the end for what sounded like forever. The judges jumped to their feet. Katy suggested the song and called the performance “so angelic, like nothing you’ve done before.” Grade: A–

5. Warren Peay, 24, Bamberg, SC, “Colder Weather” by Zac Brown Band — Warren’ delivering another solid performance. And I love the emotion he’s pouring into the song. He said this song was the most challenging for him among the three. If so, he certainly met the challenge. Lionel selected the song and loved Warren’s “amazing” story-teller vibe on that performance. The other judges encouraged him to show more of the grit in his voice. Did I miss something? I thought that was outstanding. Grade: A

6. Iam Tongi, 18, Kahuku, Hawaii,”What a Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong — I’m not sure Iam was as committed to this song choice as everyone around him was. I mean, I usually go “wow” as soon as he unleashes that lovely tone of him. I didn’t this time. And the performance was a little sleepy until Iam changed it up with a bigger ending while playing the ukulele. But, look, Iam’s going to make the Season 21 finale, no matter what he sings. Luke picked the song and praised Iam for doing a wonderful interpretation of it. Grade: B

7. Marybeth Byrd, 21, Armorel, Ark., “Wasted on You” — Now that was a heartfelt performance. Clearly, that song struck a chord with Marybeth, who turned in a much, much better performance tonight than she did covering Abba on Sunday’s show. That said, it got a bit shouty here and there and didn’t quite hit that sweet spot in Marybeth’s voice that’s I’ve loved hearing on Idol. Lionel selected the song and praised Marybeth for delivering an emotional performance. Luke called it her standout moment and her best performance so far. Grade: B

8. Tyson Venegas, 17, Vancouver, Canada, “Someone You Loved” by Lewis Capaldi — Tyson’s a wonderful singer, but I’m not sure he’s made the connection with fans some of the other contestants have. I think that’s what the vocal coaches were pushing for during rehearsals. He delivered another great vocal — he’s clearly the best technical singer among the males — but the emotion still wasn’t as heartfelt as it could have been. Or perhaps that’s the price for singing after Marybeth nearly broke down during her song. Katy picked the song and said he delivered exactly the way she hoped he would. Grade: B

9. Megan Danielle, 21, Douglasville, Ga. “Go Rest High on That Mountain” by Vince Gill — Turns out Megan sang this song at her grandfather’s funeral. Hello, Megan. This is going to be one of her standout performances. Telling you, this young lady has a career as a country Christian artist. That was simply splendid. And Megan had no trouble finding the sweet spot on her vocals. Luke selected the song and called her performance “unbelievable.” Lionel says Megan has an “amazing ability to touch.” Grade: A

10. Colin Stough, 18, Amory, Mississippi, “It’s Been Awhile” by Staind — The judges were asking Colin for nasty last night. Tonight, he gets another chance thanks to this song choice. He dons a cowboy hat. He’s got the look on his face. But, dang, he waited until the next to last line to dig really deep with the vocal. He’s got the potential. I can understand why the judges are always nudging him to commit just a little more. And he ended the more “nasty” performance by calling out: “Love you, mamma.” Katy selected the song and called him a “star.” Well, potentially. Grade: C+

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