American Idol

Song by song grades for the Top 10 on American Idol

Makayla Phillips got a save and delivered one of the best performances on American Idol. (ABC Photo)

Makayla Phillips got a save and delivered one of the best performances on American Idol. (ABC Photo)


The American Idol Top 10 perform tonight for a spot in … believe it or not … the Season 18 semifinals already.

Tonight is described as a “home-themed” episode, with contestants choosing songs that remind them of home.

Oh, and former Idol champ Phillip Phillips will perform an acoustic version of his smash hit “Home” during the show.

Louis Knight Jr., “In My Place” by Coldplay. Louis calls it a lovely reminder of home and where you come from. Nice song choice and nice emotional investment from Louis. The vocal started and ended strong, but wavered a bit here and there. Grade: B–

Julia Gargano, “New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel. Since she’s from the New York area, she’s singing one of the city’s anthems. Really pretty tone to open the song. I’d like to see a wee bit more emotion and a little less vocal gymnastics. That said, Julia is delivering those vocal gymnastics pretty darn impressively. Overall, nice performance. Nicely staged too. Grade: B+

Jovin Webb, “Voodoo” by Allen Stone: Again, Jovin’s one of the contestants missing out most by not getting to perform on a big stage. He’s miles ahead of many of the Top 20 in terms of live performance skills. He’s delivering nice energy here, and another impressive, passionate vocal, though I’m not sure I liked it quite as much as his performance last week. I’ll still be rooting for him to make the Top 7. Grade: B+

Grace Leer, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” This is a song Grace says she sang way back in a third-grade talent show. Interesting song choice for the show’s only country contestant. Solid vocal, but if you’re gonna avoid a country song choice in a competition this short, the performance better be unforgettable. Grade: C+

Jonny West, “Faithfully” by Journey: Dang, great opening by Jonny. He’s got the staging down too, doesn’t he. Like the soft toss he’s applying to this power ballad. He seemed to go a little sharp when the song swelled with the second verse, but that’s nitpicking, because that was my favorite recreation/cover of a song so far tonight. Very nicely done. Grade: A–

Sophia James, “In My Room” by The Beach Boys. Sophia says she’s actually more nervous at home because it’s a one-person show. Thrilled to see Sophia advance. She’s one of the singers I was most worried about the week. Why thrilled? That performance sums it up. Another solid performance from one of the best singers among an exceptionally talented group of females. Grade: B

Arthur Gunn, “Take Me Home Country Road” by John Denver: Arthur says he loves the positive energy in this song. Hey, I’m not quite as high on Arthur as the Idol judges are, but that was a 100 percent improvement over last week. Arthur put his own spin on the song, I understood every word and he exuded the cheerful attitude of the song. Nicely done. Grade: B+

Just Sam, “Grandma’s Hands” by Bill Withers: Like Arthur, here’s a front-runner bouncing back in a big way this week. It still could have used a little more Just Sam attitude, and she’s still closing her eyes nearly every time she goes big. But that was much better than a week ago. Grade: B–

Dillon James, “Yesterday” by The Beatles: Dillon has ditched the wooden shed backdrop for an American flag. Meanwhile, sorry to say, but this performance just sort of laid there to me. Not bad by any means. But not memorable in any way. And every performance has to be memorable in a season this short. Grade: C+

Francisco Martin, “Falling at the Stars” by James Arthur: Great staging. Francisco’s idea? Or Idol’s? Open your eyes, Francisco. He’s the fourth male singer-songwriter to advance tonight. Not thrilled at that. But Francisco delivered a performance that merited a spot in the Top 10. That was one of my favorite performances from him. Grade: B+

That leaves 10 contestants on the chopping block, including mega-talented female singers like Makayla Phillips and Kimmy Gabriela. Will the judges save anyone?

Yep, the judges will save Makayla Phillips. Sorry to see Kimmy head home, but won’t argue with that pick.

Makayla Phillips, “The House That Built Me” by Miranda Lambert: Makayla said she wanted to show off a more emotional side this week. And on a night when the only country contestant avoided a country song choice, Makayla is delivering a wonderful country performance. And she’s relying on emotion rather than vocal tricks, which is exactly the right choice for this song. Really nice performance. Grade: A–

See also …
Song by song grades for the Top 20Song by song grades for the Top 20
Most popular performances from Top 20 nightMost popular performances from Top 20 night

Producers, coaches, judges and hosts on American Idol and The Voice will pretend they are hosting a legitimate singing competition over the next few weeks. Having blogged about singing shows for more than a decade, I can assure you they are not.

You cannot go from a Top 20 to a winner in four weeks (American Idol) or a Top 17 to a winner in three weeks (The Voice) and call it a fair and legitimate singing competition.

So have fun watching. Vote if you want. Put very little stock in the results because they will mean virtually nothing.

Most of all, support the singers when their time on the show ends. They deserved a better showcase for their talent.

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1 Comment

  1. TiredofTripe May 6, 2020 at 9:59 pm -  Reply

    American Idol Season 18-Top 7:

    Arthur Gunn
    Just Sam
    Jonny West
    Dillon James
    Francisco Martin
    Julia Gargano
    Louis Knight


    Jovin Webb
    Grace Leer
    Sophia James
    Makayla Phillips


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