American Idol

American Idol 2016 Live Blog and Recap: Top 4 Revealed, Perform For Your Votes (VIDEO)

Welcome to the live blog and recap for American Idol 2016, “Top 4 Revealed and Perform”! Host Ryan Seacrest and judges Keith Urban, Jennifer Lopez, and Harry Connick, Jr. continue the search for the final American Idol!

Last week, Tristan McIntosh was eliminated, as Sonika Vaid survived yet another appearance the Bottom 2 after singing for the final Judges’ Save of the season! There is no more safety net from the judges this season, as the eliminations will now be determined by America’s vote! Tonight, the Idols tackle the Sia Songbook and Classic Rock songs with mentoring from Sia and E Street Band member Steven Van Zandt. Also, Sia, Katharine McPhee and David Cook will perform tonight! Should be a great show!

But what do readers think about the eliminations tonight?

According to our official prediction poll, our readers predict it’ll be the end of the road for Sonika Vaid, who was the most predicted elimination with 49.72% of the vote. The bottom 2 tonight is guaranteed to feature at least one singer who’s never been there before, and our readers predict that person will be Dalton Rapattoni, who is predicted to be eliminated by 20.57% of the voters. Our readers were on the money last week, but will they be right again?

Keep it locked right here, as I’ll be updating with commentary and videos of the highlight performances as soon as they become available!

American Idol 2016 Live Blog and Recap Top 4 Revealed, Perform For Your Votes (VIDEO)

Credit: Twitter (@AmericanIdol)

Let’s get this show on the road!


-After a brief video of the Idols across America, we go live to the studio where Ryan introduces the judges. Ryan goes over the details about tonight’s show before introducing the Idols. La’Porsha has dreads rather than the fro, and it’s a GREAT look for her! Dalton looks absolutely terrified, and I think he’s worried about landing in the Bottom 2 tonight. I guess we’ll see, although Ryan doesn’t explain when we’ll be learning the results. I would imagine after Round 1, like last week.

-We then get a video package about Steven Van Zandt, detailing his legendary rock career, his natural showmanship, and his acting talent as part of Netflix’s Lilyhammer and HBO’s The Sopranos. Then Scott Borchetta, a long time friend of Steven’s, tries to do a wise guy impression. It goes exactly as well as you’d expect.

-Ryan reveals the first result of the night…


-La’Porsha is excited to work with Steven, since she’s chosen “Wanted Dead or Alive” by Bon Jovi. Scott worries the song has nothing to do with her, but Steven thinks she gets away with it. In rehearsals, she seems to have convinced Scott, who seems stoked about seeing La’Porsha perform it. The video package closes on La’Porsha’s weirdly high-pitched laugh. How have I never heard this before now?

-While “Wanted Dead or Alive” is one of the most overdone rock songs in the history of the show, La’Porsha’s version is really lively. I’m actually kind of surprised by how well her voice fits in the rock genre. She just digs into the vocal. However, she doesn’t seem to be engaging too much with the audience, perhaps because she’s thinking about the lyrics? Unfortunately, she forgets some of the words towards the end of the song, which hurts the performance somewhat. But she covers it well by moving the mic away from her mouth. She’s a total pro, and even though she gets a bit drowned out by the band, I think La’Porsha slayed the vocal.

-Keith loved the blues undertones that La’Porsha’s voice brought out of the performance. Jennifer talks about her love for Bon Jovi back in high school, and how surprising it was to hear La’Porsha sing one of their songs. But she thinks La’Porsha’s voice is undeniable, and says she could sing the phone book. Harry thinks La’Porsha’s ability as a singer transcends any genre. He praises her for changing up the vibrato, saying he’s never seen anyone change it up on a rock song like that. After the performance, Ryan chats with La’Porsha about her new dreadlock hairdo, admitting that it took 14-15 hours to do! Apparently, she spent most of that time eating. Sounds fun.

WATCH AND DISCUSS: La’Porsha Renae Is a Rockstar With ‘Wanted Dead or Alive’ on American Idol 2016

-Ryan then throws to a crossover video with the Angry Birds Movie, showing an Angry Bird named Red auditioning for the judges. Voiced by Jason Sudeikis, it’s pretty amusing (“What kind of name is ‘Urban’ for a country singer?”). We also get some other Angry Bird auditions. Good times.

-Back from break with the next result…


-MacKenzie admits that classic rock is out of his wheelhouse. He’ll be singing “I Want You To Want Me” by Cheap Trick, and it’s a piano-driven arrangement. It’s pretty, but Steven feels it’s not enough. MacKenzie doesn’t want to give up on the song just yet though, so he reworks the arrangement again, impressing both Steven and Scott. I didn’t notice any measurable difference between his first arrangement and his second, but that’s kind of a good thing, since I liked how that first arrangement sounded.

-MacKenzie’s version of “I Want You To Want Me” is really pretty. Seriously, I love this arrangement. While I’m sure you could make the argument kind of cheated by not rocking out, I respect that he took a rock song and made it work for him, rather than struggling too hard to fit into a rocker mold where he doesn’t really belong (sort of like Sonika). The vocal was a bit iffy in places, but I was impressed by this overall, as MacKenzie maintains a fairly consistent level of artistry.

-Jennifer loves the song, but wasn’t sure if she liked the arrangement. While trying to mention the mentoring session, J-Lo completely blanks on Steven Van Zandt’s name, which is an awkward moment. But overall, she would have liked to have heard the first arrangement MacKenzie had planned. Harry liked the vocal, but thought he would have sounded better had he gone with the original, double-time arrangement. Keith doesn’t even mince words, saying he straight up hated the arrangement. He tells MacKenzie he’s a killer singer, and wishes he had gone in a different direction with it. After the performance, MacKenzie explains his penchant for rearrangement, saying people would shout out chords to him during performances, and he would make up the chords as he went along, since he didn’t know how to play half the songs people shouted out. Well, that kind of explains it, actually.

-Back from break as NIGEL LYTHGOE hangs out with Ryan and the judges! Ryan mentions Nigel will be producing the finale for old times’ sake, before throwing to a video package in which the Idols get to explore their fashion style or something. Sorry, I just instantly tune out on most of these fluff packages.


-David Cook performs his new single, “Heartbeat”, while the video screen behind him shows legendary moments from American Idol history, such as Kelly Clarkson’s winning moment, Fantasia singing “I Believe” while being showered with confetti, and even David’s own tear-filled victory. This song is awesome, by the way. It just builds beautifully, keeping the first two verses on a relatively even keel before exploding in the closing verse, sort of like “Fix You” by Coldplay. I just loved this.

After the performance, Ryan congratulates David on his wedding last year, and also his brother’s upcoming nuptials. Ryan admits his sister just asked him to be her Man of Honor, and David states he’ll look good in a dress. David takes the time to note how grateful he is for the Idol platform, and…well, that’s it. No album plug, no iTunes pimpage? Ah well, I’ll find a way to buy this song, even if I have to wait for it to become available.


-Ryan reveals the results of who is advancing to the Top 4 and who’s in the Bottom 2…


-I mean, I’m not shocked that Dalton is in the Bottom 2, but I’m legit worried for him now, because I could see some kind of freakish result where he’s this seasons surprise elimination (well, second surprise after Olivia). Anyway, Sonika and Dalton landing in the Bottom 2 means…


-Trent loves getting to work with Steven, and thinks his advice on how to change up ZZ Top’s “Sharp-Dressed Man” is genius. He compares Steven to the cool uncle he never had, and I really hope Trent doesn’t have an uncle watching this right now.

-Trent’s version of “Sharp-Dressed Man” starts out smoky and slow, almost like a jazz lounge performance. I absolutely love it, so much so that I actually dislike when the band comes in and kicks up the tempo. Still, I think this was something Trent had to do to show another side to his performance style. He really rocks out to this, delivering one of the coolest performances of the season, in my opinion. The crowd goes wild for him, and Jennifer and Keith give him a standing ovation!

-Harry borrows J-Lo’s phrase for the dirtied up nature of the song, calling it “Fango”. He then tells Trent how smart he was to do two different arrangements, saying he could have kept that going for as long as he wanted in a live concert. Keith thought it was a 10/10, while Jennifer gushes that she’s been waiting for Trent to deliver a performance like this. After the performance, Ryan questions the judges about their vocabulary, as Harry tries to get J-Lo to say “Fango” as sexily as she can. But she’s too embarrassed to do it, so Harry takes up the charge. He then runs up onstage and picks up Ryan for some reason. That was a POWERFULLY AWKWARD moment.


-We’re back with Sonika and Dalton waiting to learn their fate. After the nationwide vote…


SONIKA VAID has been eliminated from AMERICAN IDOL 2016!

-Sonika is sad to go, but she takes it in stride. Ryan throws to a highlight package of Sonika’s best moments, and the farewell song is set to the Sia song she would have sang tonight, which she recorded for iTunes. We even see some of her mentor highlights with Sia, who thinks she’s the total package. The song, “Loved Me Back to Life”, is terrific. It’s a shame Sonika couldn’t perform it live. Back in the studio, Sonika’s mother is in tears and blowing her kisses from the audience, while Sonika struggles to maintain her composure. She thanks everyone for their votes, and talks about how thankful she is for the Idol experience. She should be proud of what she’s done. However, the competition must go on…


-Dalton had his heart set on “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes, and it results in a major back-and-forth between Dalton and Scott/Steven, neither of whom feel the song goes anywhere. After rejecting several other song choices, Dalton actively fights for the “Seven Nation Army” song choice, and Steven goes to bat for him with Scott, saying it might be able to work the way Dalton arranges it. However, he suggests Dalton have a backup song. In rehearsal, Dalton realizes “Seven Nation Army” just isn’t working, so he decides to use his backup song — “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys. This could be great.

-This is one of the most tender vocals of Dalton’s run on the show, although Dalton seems really unsure about himself. And I don’t know why, because this is just gorgeous. It’s not Dalton’s best vocal, but I don’t think that’s necessarily the point here. He’s connecting with the lyrics, singing to the girls in the audience, and struggling to maintain his composure, as if he’s really telling the woman he loves that he doesn’t know what he’d be without her. When the performance ends, Dalton seems near tears, and I don’t know if he missed a lyric in there somewhere, since the arrangement changed up. If so, that might explain why he was so shaken by the performance. He seems prepared to get torn apart by the judges, but again, I don’t know why. This was my favorite performance from Dalton since the live shows started.

-Keith thought it was great for Dalton to choose that song, noting how much he loved seeing Dalton take his opportunity to speak with America seriously. Jennifer knows what it’s like to have an idea in your head as an artist, only for it to not work. She praises him for taking the advice and having a backup song, saying he won with that song. Harry felt this was the most complex song Dalton has performed so far, saying it showed his vulnerabilities. But he thinks that’s exactly the type of song where you want to hear those vulnerabilities. He adds that it wasn’t about being a strong vocalist, it was about getting into those lyrics. I agree completely with Harry there. After the performance, Dalton admits he was a little shaken up, although he doesn’t say why. I suppose landing in the Bottom 2 will do that to a person.

-Before break, Ryan throws to a flashback clip of Katharine McPhee singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” in Season 5. I can’t believe that was ten years ago already. Still one of the greatest performances in Idol history, in my opinion.

-Back from break with the Idols going to a NASCAR event, performing “God Bless America,” and generally just having a great time. Back in the studio, Ryan officially welcomes the Top 4, stating that these four will be having hometown visits. Very cool.


-Yup, still as good now as it was ten years ago. And Katharine is still as punishingly gorgeous as ever. This arrangement seems even more minimalist than the arrangement from Season 5, and I love it. In fact, I find myself nearly getting choked up. THIS is the performance that should have had Idol moments playing in the background. It’s a performance that just inspires a certain amount of nostalgia for great Idol moments. Seriously, this was simply terrific. All three judges give Katharine a standing ovation at the end.

After the performance, Ryan brings out staff member Austin, who’s one of Katharine’s biggest fans. He’s flustered to meet her, and talks about his campaign to get Katharine to win Season 5, saying he made donuts to hand out to his 7th grade class, but wouldn’t hand out any unless they promised to vote for her. That’s adorable, actually. And Katharine seems genuinely touched. Maybe those donuts were the reason Katharine made it into the finale over Elliott by less than one percent.

-Back from break as Ryan shouts out a would-be mini-Seacrest in the audience, before interviewing Scott about finally getting into the studio with the Idols to record iTunes singles. We then get an interesting Sia video package, as she talks about her experiences in the music industry, going from a singer/songwriter to a mysterious international pop star. She admits her gimmick is weird, but states it’s kind of the best thing she could have done for herself. She’s happy to work with the Idols, and even she’s surprised that they selected her for a theme week, since she didn’t realize her catalog was that big. In a touching moment, Sia says she wanted to cry when she heard some of her lyrics being sung back to her by the Idols.

LA’PORSHA RENAE is up first!

-La’Porsha admits she was fan-girling hard upon meeting Sia. The feeling is mutual, as Sia ADORED La’Porsha’s version of “Diamonds”. La’Porsha will be singing “Elastic Heart,” and I kind of hate the arrangement that the pianist is hammering out right now, and I don’t know whose idea it is right now. But Sia loves it, breaking down in tears as the cameraman goes out of his way to hide Sia’s face, even though the early confessional showed her simply speaking with her mouth revealed. Ah well, gotta maintain some mystery (although her face is literally just a Google Image search away).

-La’Porsha goes with the original arrangement for “Elastic Heart,” and while I don’t think it gives her as much room to show off her vocal prowess as other songs she’s chosen, I think this is a superb song choice to show La’Porsha’s underrated stage presence. She gets the crowd clapping along (“Yeah! I like that!”) while working the stage and showing some moves. She’s not necessarily dancing, but she’s illustrating she has rhythm. And the crowd really seems to love it.

-Jennifer had a flashback to when La’Porsha was under-the-radar in the competition, but says she’s a fully-realized artist now. Harry agrees, saying he feels like he’s in the passenger seat with a NASCAR driver when she sings. Keith thinks it’s beautiful to see someone come in with raw talent and grow into a performer. He gives props to the songwriters for crafting such an amazing song. After the performance, Ryan asks if the Idols got to see Sia’s face, and she admits they did. Ryan asks what color Sia’s eyes are, and she admits they’re blue, which I probably could have guessed, although I would have thought hazel.


-In his wildest dreams, MacKenzie never thought he’d meet Sia. He admits he’s nervous, since “Titanium” is so far out of his wheelhouse. But Sia encourages him to go for the high note, saying he could perhaps nail it if he goes falsetto. She also reassures him that it’s okay to “f*** up” in front of her. Man, I had no idea how charming Sia is. I also never realized how right MacKenzie would end up looking in a Sia wig.

-MacKenzie is surrounded by a string ensemble, and it results in one of the most beautiful arrangements of the season. I’m a firm believer that strings improve everything, but that’s double the case here, as this feels more weighty and emotional. In fact, MacKenzie’s guitar playing towards the end is a bit distracting, so much so that I would have left the guitar in the back, were I MacKenzie. That said, I thought this was a solid performance, albeit not his strongest vocal.

-Harry wishes MacKenzie hadn’t made that entire mentoring session about the falsetto note towards the end, since it made everyone ignore the rest of the song in favor of waiting to see if he’d hit the note. Keith disagrees and says MacKenzie’s use of the high note was great. Jennifer thinks there’s more MacKenzie could do with his voice, and likes that he explored that, theorizing that life doesn’t truly begin until you leave your comfort zone. She adds that, at the end of the day, they’re all rooting for him. After the performance, Ryan notes what a cool guy MacKenzie is, and thanks him as he heads back to the couch.


-I LOVE THIS SONG! This is such an outstanding track, and I’m loving the performance, which features dancers all dressed in the same nude-colored outfits as Maddie Ziegler in all her music videos. One of them might even be Maddie, for all I know. I’m just terrible with recognizing children I’m not related to. After the performance, Sia continues to charm by telling Ryan she’s blind as a bat beneath the wig, and that to her, everyone is naked. She then talks about how great the Idols were, comparing them to any other humans looking for love and validation in this world. I love this woman! Oh, and she plugs her upcoming Coachella performance. I SO wish I could be there.

TRENT HARMON is up next!

-Trent compares meeting Sia in the flesh to seeing a unicorn. He’ll be singing “Chandelier,” which is Sia’s favorite of her songs. However, Trent doesn’t go for the falsetto during the chorus. So he gives it a try and agrees that Sia was absolutely right to talk him into trying it. He gives Sia goosebumps on her legs, and realizes this could be his moment to make people believe this could be his song. I’m excited.

-This is masterful stuff, in my opinion. I’ve figured Trent would be a fourth-place finisher, at best, even though I’ve been a fan since he was sick during Hollywood Week. However, this is beyond what I could have expected, as he totally crafts a more emotional version with the slowed down, string-based arrangement. If he wins this season, this will be the moment where people pinpoint everything changing, where Trent went from dark horse to potential frontrunner. Jennifer even has trouble composing herself from how emotional this track is. I loved it. My favorite performance of the night so far.

-Keith thinks the performance was exquisite. Jennifer then says Trent can basically do anything with a voice like his, although she wishes his presentation was a bit more consistent. Still, she loved the performance. Harry thinks Trent was in another world with that performance, saying his vocal technique was outstanding from beginning to end, giving it a score of 100/100. After the performance, Ryan asks what Trent was thinking about, and he says it was about making Sia proud. Harry asks for a more specific reference, saying he kind of made it about himself, without meaning to sound selfish. I like that answer.

DALTON RAPATTONI closes the show!

-Dalton will be singing “Bird Set Free,” and Sia is intrigued by the delicacy of Dalton’s voice. She wants to hear how it sounds when he belts it out, so they try it again. She likes his belting, and thinks he can find a balance between a tender vocal and a more raw power for the second half. They then connect over their shared struggle with bipolar disorder, ine what just might have been the most touching moment of the night. I know he isn’t the strongest singer left in the competition, but Dalton really is my sentimental favorite.

-Dalton begins with tenderness, and it’s a great approach, as he essentially talks to the audience, gesturing with his hands and communicating the emotion of the song with his expressions. This has been an absolutely stellar night for Dalton. In fact, I think only Trent has had a better night overall. There’s just something about the way Dalton connects to a song that’s just so compelling. You can tell how much this song means to him, and it results in his best performance of the season, having an emotional moment towards the end that makes this for Dalton what “No More Drama” was for La’Porsha. He actually struggles not to cry, and apologizes to the cheering audience.

-Jennifer felt that it was beautiful, and congratulates him on the performance, while Harry talks about what a perfect match this was between Sia song and an artist. He liked it a whole hell of a lot. Meanwhile, Keith respects how Dalton continually pushes through his limitations, saying it’s genuinely inspiring and that he’d rather take something like that over soulless perfection any day.

And that’s a wrap! What did you think of tonight’s performance and results show? Sound off in the comments!

Until next week, thanks for reading and hanging out! Rickey should be by later with more videos!


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