American Idol

American Idol fans, judges pick a Top 14

The American Idol Top 20 will become a Top 14 tonight. (ABC Photo)

The American Idol Top 20 will become a Top 14 tonight. (ABC Photo)


The American Idol Top 20 put on an amazing show Sunday night.

So amazing, it’s tough to imagine that Top 20 becoming a Top 14 by the end of tonight’s episode.

But that’s exactly what will happen.

Everyone will perform again, some as newly minted members of that Top 14, some in hopes of securing a wild card spot int he same.

Fans can rest their fingers; no voting tonight.

Instead, 10 contestants will advance based on the fan voting that took place overnight.

Then the Idol judges will select four singers to round out that Top 14.

Just in case they need help, here’s a list of 10 singers I think MUST advance based on their performances last night. In no particular order, as Ryan would say.

Group one from Sunday: Mia Matthews, Emmy Russell, Triston Harper, Odell Bunton Jr.

Group two from Sunday: Kayko, Kaibrienne (KB) Richins, Nya, Abi Carter, Will Moseley, McKenna Breinholt.

Song by song grades for tonight’s performances will be coming up as soon as I can post them.


McKenna Breinholt, 25, of Gilbert, Ariz., “Tumbleweed” by Nowhere Man and Whiskey Girl — She’s in the Top 14. Yep, she’s singing a song by her late birth mother. She simply has a lovely voice and this is another top-rate performance. She says the song is about tumbleweeding forward. Grade: A-

Jack Blocker, 25, Dallas, Texas, “Feeling Whitney” by Post Malone — Singing first last night, I thought he might be in danger. But he breezes into the Top 14. Another solid singer-songwriter performance from Jack. Even Jack admits he wasn’t sure he’d be voted in. Grade: B

Mia Matthews, 18, Centre, Ala., “Burning House” by Cam — Thrilled to see Mia made the Top 14. She sang nearly 2 hours before voting began last night and I thought that might affect her. That wasn’t her best performance, but I absolutely love her humility. She’s easy to root for. Grade: B–

Kayko, 23, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., “What If” (an origina) — Great to see him advance as well. The song he performed last night is part of his new EP “Poser.” So is this song, which he first performed during Hollywood Week. In fact, he’s now performed four songs of the six songs from that EP on the show. He’s turning this performance into a celebration. Grade: B–

Will Moseley, 23, of Hazelhurst, Ga., “Gone for Good” (an original) — He’s reprising his audition song. And I won’t be surprised it this jumps up the country charts again. It’s a great song. And, naturally, Will sounds great on it. This guy is going deep into the competition. Grade: A–

Abi Carter, 21, Indio, Calif., “My Mind” by Yebba: Waiting for Abi to do her debut single, because it’s a great song. Instead, she’s delivering another emotional performance. Impressive, even if her vocals aren’t quite as spot-on as they were last night. Doesn’t matter because she’s safe. Grade: B

Kaibrienne (KB) Richins, 20, Henefer, Utah, “Zombie” by The Cranberries — Not sure about the arrangement of that song. I would have liked the song to swell before it did. But Kaibrienne is becoming Idol’s queen of angst. Listen to the crowd. I think it’s pretty clear that she’s become a fan favorite. Grade: B

Emmy Russell, 24, Nashville, Tenn., “Skinny” — Like Will, she’ll reprise her audition song. This is an already released single, folks, so you can stream and download it now. It’s another of the great originals this show has introduced us to in Season 22. Open you eyes, Emmy. Wow, powerful and vocally impressive performance. That was superb. Grade: A

Julia Gagnon, 21, Cumberland, Maine, “Need a Favor” by Jelly Roll: Wow, excellent opening. This song is in Julia’s sweet spot. Dang, she even shows off a bit of growl. She is turning in a fabulous, fierce performance. She doesn’t need a favor, because she’s safe. She did us all a favor with that performance. Grade: A

Triston Harper, 15, McIntosh, Alabama, “Til You Can’t by Cody Johnson — There was really no drama in announcing him as the last singer sent to safety. There was no way he wasn’t advancing. Triston isn’t as on-point vocally tonight as he was last night, singing that great original “Hope.” But he’s going deep into this competition, folks. Still wouldn’t be surprised to see him and Will in the finals. Grade: B

Danger zone

Quintavious, 21, Franklin, Tenn., “Make It Happen” by Mariah Carey — He’s in the danger zone. And his voice is getting swallowed up by the backing music. A couple lines in, he finds his way, just as the lyrics say. He’s delivering a solid performance. I imagine his fate will also rely on how many of the other worship leaders make the Top 10. He treats the crowd to a whistle note at the end. Luke calls it his best performance so far. Grade: B

Jordan Anthony, 18, Perth Australia, “Attention” by Charlie Puth — This has gotta be tough. Find out you didn’t make the Top 14, then immediately performing. Jordan is responding with a solid performance. I like this more than what he did last night. Toward the end, he hit a couple of notes that weren’t perfect, but Katy calls it his best performance so far. Grade: B

Kennedy Reid, 23, New Albany, Indiana, “Something Bad” by Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood — Kennedy slips right into sassy after getting that bit of bad news. And it the judges can be convinced on Kennedy, that was pretty convincing. That was probably Kennedy’s best performance. Lionel loved the confidence she showed in that performance. That was my favorite save performance so far. Grade: B+

Ajii, 27, Brooklyn, N.Y., “Call Out My Name” by The Weeknd — This is going to be interesting because this is starting out very sleepy for a save performance. There it is, Ajii goes big. He winds up delivering a performance that brings the Idol judges to their feet. Katy called it an excellent performance. I suspect Ajii has a strong chance at a wild card. Grade: B

Jennifer Jeffries, 17, Starkville, Mississippi, “All I Want” by Kodaline — She’ll sound great on this. Love her voice. Her problem — other female singer-songwriters are going to land in the safe zone and the judges are going to want a diverse Season 22 cast. This young woman needs to release more of her original music. What a great sound she has. Not sure that soft ending was as impactful as she wanted. Grade B–.

Nya, 27, Manhattan, N.Y., “Water” by Tyla — This is what I’ve been waiting for. She takes on a more current song in a vocally impressive and sensuous performance. And she gets the judges to their feet. This young woman has star power. Lionel praises her performance. Grade: B+

Odell Bunton Jr., 28, Dallas, Texas, “”Wait on You” by Elevation Worship: This is the first big surprise of the night. I thought Odell was excellent last night. His vocals soar in a heartbeat. He’s going full gospel with this. Well, it was passionate. But not nearly as impressive to me as last night’s performance. Grade: C+

Mackenzie Sol, 23, Las Vegas, Nevada, “False Alarms” by Lawrence — I really think Mackenzie is singing against Jordan here. One of the two is likely to make it through, not both. Mackenzie is delivering a more intense performance tonight. Loved the attitude there. Katy called the performance amazing. Grade: B+

Jayna Elise, 22, Washington, D.C., “All I Wanted” by Paramore — Pick up the volumne Jayna. You’re being swallowed up by the band. The first half of that was weak. Then she sheds the hood and explodes vocally. Didn’t work for me. But the judges are on their feet. Lionel calls it a command performance. Grade: B–

Roman Collins, 24, Long Beach, Calif., “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” — Roman just gave us a great display of sportsmanwhip with the way he cheered on Triston. Now, he’s pulling out a singing show staple in his attempt to snag a save. And he’s certainly adding a few frills. Of the three worship leaders on this show, Roman is my favorite. That was a fearless performance, a bit over the top, but definitely fearless. Luke calls it a great performance. Grade: B+

My picks for saves would include Mackenzie, Roman and Nya. I’d love to hear more from Jennifer Jeffries, but there’s already lots of female singer-songwriter types in the Top 14.

And the judges picks for the four wild cards include:

* Jayna Elise.

* Jordan Anthony

* Nya

* Roman Collins

That means the elimination of platinum ticket winner Odell Bunton, plus Jennifer Jeffries, Kennedy Reid, Quintavious, Ajii and Mackenzie Sol.

The American Idol Top 14, including: front row, from left, Nya, Julia Gagnon, Kaibrienne Richins, Abi Carter, Kayko, Mia Matthews, Emmy Russell; back rown, from left, Jayna Elise. Roman Collins, Jordan Anthony, Will Moseley, McKenna Breinholt, Jack Blocker and Tristan Harper. (ABC Photo).

The American Idol Top 14, including: front row, from left, Nya, Julia Gagnon, Kaibrienne Richins, Abi Carter, Kayko, Mia Matthews, Emmy Russell; back rown, from left, Jayna Elise. Roman Collins, Jordan Anthony, Will Moseley, McKenna Breinholt, Jack Blocker and Tristan Harper. (ABC Photo).

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