“American Idol” Recap: The Top 11 Perform The Top 11 are revealed and perform, plus America votes.

After a history-making episode that saw the Top 20 perform from their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, American Idol season 18 is back a week later to reveal the results of America’s votes, and the finalists will perform songs that remind them of home. Our votes will determine the Top 7.

Plus, there will be appearances by season 11 winner Phillip Phillips, Charlie Puth, Stevie Wonder and Darius Rucker. And the judges have the opportunity to use their one and only save of season 18. We all know they’re going to use it, so this will be a Top 11, not a Top 10, no matter how much they’re trying to build suspense.

After the success of last week’s first “at-home” episode, let’s find out who’s staying and who’s leaving. This…is American Idol!

Phillip Phillips kicks off the show by performing his hugely successful coronation song, “Home.” All these years later, I still love this song.

And just like last week, judge Katy Perry is making a grand entrance. Instead of a sanitizer costume, she’s in a giant toilet paper roll costume. But she comments that she’s not going to be in that outfit the entire show. That must have been really uncomfortable last time.

The first person in the Top 11 is…

Louis Knight (“In My Place” by Coldplay)
I really liked his performance last week. Can he live up to that? I agree with Luke Bryan here. I’m not blown away by this one, but it’s still good because his voice has a really lovely tone to it. The song choice works well for his voice. Despite voting being open, will going first hurt his chances? Will not being quite as good as last week also lead to an elimination? We’ll have to see next Sunday. But until then, there are more results to be revealed.

The second contestant in the Top 11 is…

Julia Gargano (“New York State of Mind” by Billy Joel)
Julia became one of my favorites last week, and I ended up sending votes her way. This time, she’s taking on Billy Joel and doesn’t disappoint at all. I could easily see her commanding the stage if Idol was doing these episodes in the studio. But even doing this in a room in her home, she commands the screen and sounds fantastic. She continues to solidify herself as a top contender.

Katy Perry chats with Charlie Puth about his success and teaming up with season 16 third-place finisher Gabby Barrett on a remix of her hit single “I Hope.” I don’t think I’ve heard the remix yet, but I love the original. I’m so happy that Gabby has found success with this song.

The third singer in the Top 11 is…

Jovin Webb (“Voodoo” by Allen Stone”)
How can you not love this? He’s having a blast performing “Voodoo.” You can’t help but groove along with it. So much fun! I have no doubt he’ll be here next week.

The fourth performer in the Top 11 is…

Grace Leer (“Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland)
This is my first incorrect prediction of the night. I guess being voted into the Top 20 by America (instead of the judges) helped her. I obviously love “Over the Rainbow,” but this is just fine. I can’t say anything better than that. Last week, I questioned whether she can be current in today’s country music scene. This week, she’s left country music completely in her song choice. So I don’t know what to say. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s eliminated. But if she’s in the Top 7, I want her to perform a current country hit.

The fifth semifinalist in the Top 11 is…

Jonny West (“Faithfully” by Journey)
This is a mixed bag for me. There are some moments that sound really lovely. Then there are a few off-pitch notes. The judges love him; I wonder if the producers are trying to really prop Jonny up to go all the way. Speaking of the judges…can they stop talking about last year’s runner-up, Alejandro Aranda? I just don’t get that guy’s appeal.

Luke Bryan chats with Darius Rucker, who gives some advice for the contestants.

The sixth contestant in the Top 11 is…

Sophia James (“In My Room” by The Beach Boys)
I would not have pictured her singing a Beach Boys number, but this particular song choice works. However, I just can’t give it the praise that the judges are dishing out. I do hear some pitch issues at times–do they not hear it? If her voice had been pitch-perfect, this might have been one of the best performances of the night. Also, I would imagine that Sophia and Julia share a similar fan base. If that’s the case, there will come a point where they’ll split the votes and one will leave before the other. Based on tonight’s performances, I’d side with Julia.

The seventh singer in the Top 11 is…

Arthur Gunn (“Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver)
This reminds me a little of Jovin’s earlier performance. The word that sums up both is ‘fun.’ There’s a very laidback feel here, and that really is Arthur’s vibe, which I’ve noticed throughout the season. Will I remember this as much as some of the others tonight? I’m not sure, but it’s still enjoyable.

The eighth performer in the Top 11 is…

Just Sam (“Grandma’s Hands” by Bill Withers)
Yay! So glad she’s still here! I mean, I had no doubt it would happen, but as you can tell I’m really rooting for her. And what a beautiful song for her to choose to dedicate to her grandma. Her voice? Wow! Her unique tone really shines through with this song. She’s pitch-perfect. She knows how to tell a story. If anyone thought last week’s “I Believe” wasn’t up to par, then “Grandma’s Hands” will surely get rid of any doubts. I actually want to listen to her voice on this song again; if Idol still released studio tracks like they used to, I’d definitely be buying this one. She remains one of the best singers in the competition.

Lionel Richie chats with Stevie Wonder to provide advice. It’s cool that these artists “stopped by,” but I’m surprised Idol producers didn’t have them perform to fill time…’cause we all know these singing competition shows have become experts at trying to fill time.

The ninth semifinalist in the Top 11 is…

Dillon James (“Yesterday” by The Beatles)
Well, here’s my second incorrect prediction of the night. I’m really surprised by this one, though. I did make a strong statement last week by saying, “I expect Dillon will be eliminated.” But we need to talk about this song. First off, it’s The Beatles, one of the best bands of all time. And I really wasn’t sure if he could pull it off. But he does! I mean, sure, I understand the criticism the judges are delivering to him. However, I actually quite like hearing the twang in his voice on this particular song.

Speaking of “Yesterday,” I highly recommend the 2019 film of the same name. It’s filled from start to finish with Beatles music. And now I really want to re-watch it.

The final person in the Top 10 (before the inevitable judges’ save creates the Top 11) is…

Francisco Martin (“Falling Like the Stars” by James Arthur)
With this incorrect prediction, this means I only missed three, which isn’t too bad. Francisco was a mixed bag last week, and I’m not super in love with this performance either. I will say there are quite a few moments in which I like the tone in his voice–when he’s on, he’s really on. He just needs to work on strengthening those other moments. Based on the judges’ comments, I expect that Dillon is in far more danger of being eliminated than Francisco is.

Now that we know our Top 10, will the judges use their one and only save? There’s still about 10+ minutes left in the show, which is enough time for one more performance, so that kinda answers that question, right?

And, yes, the judges are using it. They are saving…

Makayla Phillips (“The House That Built Me” by Miranda Lambert)
Wait, what?! The judges are saving her? Why? She had one of the worst performances last week. You know who should have taken that spot? Cyniah Elise. Now, that’s a super talented singer. As for Makayla, Ariana Grande/pop last week. Miranda Lambert/country this week. Does she not know who she is as an artist? I questioned that last time as well. I will say, though, she’s so much better this time around. I think it’s because the song isn’t flashy; it’s a slower number that’s all about telling a story. I’m still mad about this save.

My Favorites of the Night
Just Sam, Julia Gargano and Jovin Webb

The Weakest of the Night
Grace Leer and Sophia James

Who I’m Voting For
Just Sam (30 votes) and Julia Gargano (30 votes)

Top 7 Predictions
Julia Gargano, Jovin Webb, Jonny West, Sophia James, Arthur Gunn, Just Sam and Francisco Martin

Elimination Predictions
Louis Knight, Grace Leer, Dillon James and Makayla Phillips

I’m most unsure of Louis’ and Makayla’s chances. The former may have gotten lost in the shuffle. The latter was rejected by America but saved by the judges. I initially had Louis still in, then swapped him out for Makayla. Then I got rid of both of them. While both had some good moments, Makayla’s performance will probably stick in voters’ minds more. So if one of them does advance, it’ll probably be her.

Next week, four will be eliminated, and the remaining seven will perform again for our votes. They’ll be celebrating Mother’s Day and performing Disney songs–I wonder what Disney-related costume Katy Perry will be wearing? See you then.

American Idol airs Sundays at 8pm on ABC.

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Image: ABC

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