American Idol 2016 Live Blog and Recap: Top 8 Revealed, Perform For Your Votes (VIDEO)
Welcome to the live blog and recap for American Idol 2016, “Top 8 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, the Top 10 were revealed as the voting rounds began in earnest! La’Porsha Renae earned a standing ovation from the judges while Sonika Vaid also staked her claim on the Idol crown. But it was guest judge Kelly Clarkson who walked away with the moment of the season so far, bringing judge Keith Urban to tears with her moving performance of “Piece by Piece”! Tonight, we find out which eight singers will advance in the competition, and which two have sung their last note on the show.
But what do Rickey.org readers think?
According to our official prediction poll, Gianna Isabella will finish in 10th place, as the daughter of Brenda K. Starr earned 36.88% of the vote. Lee Jean is predicted to finish in 9th place, having earned 24.2% of the vote. However, country singer Tristan McIntosh is expected to join them in the Bottom 3, scoring 13.48% of the vote. Who will stay and who will go?
Keep it locked right here, as I’ll be updating with commentary and videos of the highlight performances as soon as they become available!
Let’s get this show on the road!
-We open with Ryan and Scott Borchetta driving a Ford Fusion to the studio, talking about what an honor it is to have the final American Idol on Big Machine Records, but it’s really just a glorified car commercial, with Scott announcing that the new Fusions are only for the winner and runner-up. Well, at least they’re not treating the car reward as a surprise this year. That said, I wonder if they’ll still get the chance to give a new car to mentors. In the studio, Ryan introduces the judges, and then announces that Demi Lovato will be here performing “Stone Cold” and “Confident” live! Also, Harry Connick Jr. will perform tonight as well.
Ryan then talks about the affect Kelly’s performance of “Piece by Piece” had on the world last week, reaching over 144 million people through shares on social media. We replay it, seeing La’Porsha shedding tears, Keith openly weeping, and J-Lo looking like a hot mess (in the nicest way possible). Keith talks about what he was feeling, saying the song touched him a lot as a dad. In a funny moment, Ryan states that the song makes him really like Kelly’s husband. He then plugs the special Idol version of the song Kelly recorded and the upcoming PEOPLE magazine with Idol on the cover.
Ryan then talks about how the Bottom 3 will be revealed at the end of the night, and Jennifer expresses surprise because we’ve never done a double elimination before. Is she f***ing serious? You got rid of FOUR PEOPLE last week! Between this and her statement at Top 14 that they all thought Haley Reinhart would win Season 10 (after spending half the season dogging her with Randy Jackson), I’m beginning to think she doesn’t even watch the show.
-Ryan reveals the first result…
DALTON RAPATTONI is safe!
-Dalton talks about the great feedback he received last week, but admits he was intimidated seeing La’Porsha and Trent perform afterwards. So he has to rock harder than he ever has before, because only one person can be “sitting on the beach” at the end of this, and he wants it to be himself. How Dalton was surprised to hear his name called to safety is completely beyond me. He has to know he’s popular, at some level, right?
-Dalton sings “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons, and while I LOVE Dalton, this was actually my least favorite of his performances. There’s just not a whole lot of new stuff you can do with a song like this, and if you try, it ends up either being strange or so far away from the original that it might as well be a different song completely (as Jenn Blosil showed us in her audition). What I will say is that Dalton is a total freaking star, from how he works the stage to how he connects with every song. So I’d be shocked if he wasn’t safe after this.
-Keith is happy America voted Dalton through, because he loves his passion. However, he didn’t love the song choice for him, since it didn’t allow him to put his own spin on it. But he’s confident we’ll see more from him in the weeks to come. Jennifer responds to his VT and warns him against getting inside his own head, saying he should be competing to outdo himself and not outdo everyone else, since he doesn’t do what the other contestants do, and they don’t do what he does. Harry loves Dalton’s intensity and sincerity, and compares him to Green Day frontman Billy Joe Armstrong. However, while he liked it, he found himself wondering what Dalton was thinking about during the song. Great performance, but he felt a lack of Dalton’s usual electricity. After the performance, Dalton explains his surprise at hearing his name called, saying he’s a very self-deprecating person, which is why he’s surprised every round he advances. Awww, that’s kind of sad and endearing. You’re awesome, Dalton! Believe it!
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Dalton Rapattoni Sings ‘Radioactive’ on American Idol 2016
-Ryan then throws to a video package that reveals Idol’s Grammy statistics. That’s…random.
-Back from break, as Ryan reveals the next result…
LEE JEAN is safe!
-WOW! I would have bet money on him landing in the Bottom 3. Lee’s VT talks about his affinity for Ed Sheeran, as he’s basically known as the Ed Sheeran Kid. He thinks Ed is an amazing singer/songwriter, but until last week, he never noticed how often he sings Ed Sheeran, nor did he ever think of himself as being in competition with MacKenzie Bourg. He wants to go out there and prove he’s not a carbon copy of anyone.
-Lee sings “Use Somebody” by Kings of Leon, and after spending half his VT talking about how happy he is with the new arrangement, he basically performs the exact radio version. With that said, I really, really like this. I’ve always liked Lee and have been waiting forever for him to break out of his Ed Sheeran mold. And this is EXACTLY what he needed to do. Between jamming on his electric guitar, to finally grabbing the mic and working the stage, I couldn’t have been more impressed by this. His vocal was also really smooth here. I dug it.
-Jennifer thought this was a great song choice for Lee, but thinks he should explore outside his comfort zone vocally. Harry asks Jennifer if she ever explores her range vocally when no one’s looking, and she says yes, noting that she won’t try something vocally onstage unless she’s tried it out in private first. Harry asks Lee if the song is about missing home, because that’s always what he felt it was about. With that said, he liked this song for Lee. Keith didn’t, however, but he’s proud of Lee for trying something different. With another two singers going home next week, I don’t know if that will be enough to save Lee. But I thought this was one of his better performances in the competition.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Lee Jean Sings ‘Use Somebody’ On American Idol 2016
DEMI LOVATO PERFORMS “CONFIDENT” AND “STONE COLD”!
-Demi Lovato sings “Confident”, and she’s joined onstage by the female finalists. I thought this was really cool, albeit way too brief. We then throw to a music video of Demi walking through a snowy mountain in a sweeping shot that made me think the Fellowship of the Ring would be hot on her trail. It sets up Demi’s performance of “Stone Cold”, and while there’s absolutely no denying Demi has an incredible voice, I really wish she would dial it back a bit here in her higher register moments, because she’s just a hair below shouting these lyrics. Seriously, this is almost theater at this point. That said, this is yet another genuinely emotional performance, albeit not to the degree of Kelly’s performance last week. At the end, she gets a standing ovation from the judges and a raucous reception from the crowd. However, Ryan sort of spoils the moment by complimenting Demi’s legs. Dude must be thirsty.
-We throw to break with an Idol Grammy moment, as Carrie Underwood accepts her first Grammy. In her speech, she thanks Simon Fuller for creating American Idol, since she wouldn’t be here without it.
-Back from break with our next result…
SONIKA VAID is safe!
-Sonika feels last week was her best performance ever, mostly because it was the first time she’s ever not been nervous. She states that she gave herself an angsty, bad girl alter ego prior to the performance in order to psych herself up. She feels this alter ego is what’s helping her make it through. This week, she’ll be singing “Since U Been Gone,” and showing off an angry girlfriend side (even though she admits to never having had a boyfriend before).
-Sonika is an outstanding singer, but between last week and this week, I’m really not buying into this rocker persona just yet. Maybe it’s because she’s spent the entire competition prior to these past two weeks singing dreary, pageant ballads. Her singing and performance style still lean towards that type of pop vocal, perhaps by instinct, since this is so far removed from what she normally does. Maybe her lack of romantic experience is part of why I don’t particularly believe her when she does this? I don’t know. It’s a terrific vocal, don’t get me wrong. But this just didn’t do it for me.
-Harry thinks Sonika should have suggested for the band to give her a big lift in the break before the hook. He loves Sonika’s voice, but feels she was more into hearing her own voice than singing the words. Keith somewhat agrees, saying he kept waiting for the attitude Sonika promised. Jennifer thinks it’s a great idea for Sonika to have a character in her head for performances like this, but once she gets up there, she needs to let go. After the performance, Ryan tells Keith this is the first time he’s heard someone say they want more “angry girlfriend”. He then says they need to get Sonika a boyfriend and then an ex, and then she’ll be able to deliver “angry ex-girlfriend”. Well yeah, that was kind of the problem.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Sonika Vaid Sings ‘Since U Been Gone’ on American Idol 2016
-Ryan keeps the results coming…
MACKENZIE BOURG is safe!
-MacKenzie is a bit worried about how he comes across in his performances, but Scott Borchetta tells him in rehearsal that his “half-head voice” is really beautiful. MacKenzie wants to change it up by doing something unexpected, so he’ll be singing “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston, saying he wants this to be his “wow moment”. He also wants to prove that he can do things other than ballads geared towards making you cry. Here’s hoping.
-I love this arrangement of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” with the soft electric guitar and rolling Coldplay-esque percussion. It’s not MacKenzie’s strongest vocal, but what I love about this is how much he appears to be connecting with the song. I would wager this is one of his best performances, even in spite of the iffy vocal. There’s just something comfortable and confident about this that I hope we get to see more often from MacKenzie in the future.
-Keith thought it was a really cool performance, saying he’s never heard a guy sing that song before (really? Sam Smith?). He compares MacKenzie to Rivers Cuomo from Weezer, which is a similarity that, much like the Billy Joe Armstrong comparison Harry made earlier with Dalton, is something I can’t believe I never noticed before. Jennifer said that worked really well, and she thought it was a strong performance. She hopes MacKenzie explores his voice more in the future though. Harry thought it was nice and pleasant, and was a great song choice for MacKenzie, but he thought he should have done something more inventive with the arrangement, perhaps doing acoustic. Of course, this ignores that the acoustic thing is what he does every week. But either way, Harry seemed positive on the performance. Afterwards, MacKenzie notes that he’s dedicating the song to his grandmother, who’s in the hospital right now. Yeah, he’s not going anywhere any time soon.
-Back from break with Harry revealing that Keith is snacking on cauliflower underneath the desk. Harry says it’s as weird as eating almonds as a snack. Why is that weird? Almonds are great! Anyway, Harry (rather than Ryan) reveals the next result…
LA’PORSHA RENAE is safe!
-La’Porsha was completely taken aback by the comments she received last week. Back at home, she’s focused on being a mom, but here, she has photographers wanting to take her picture. One of the most daunting parts of this is knowing that someone else will touch her hair. Only her mother has touched her own hair. In fact, her hair has a personality of its own. Her name is Kokomo, and she’s fierce! Of course, she’s open to allowing this process to grow on her, so she’s confident they’ll take care of her hair. This was an adorable video package, especially all those looks of doubt when the comb and scissors came anywhere near La’Porsha’s hair.
-La’Porsha sings “Halo” by Beyonce, and I LOVE how she’s styled this week, with the black hair (rather than copper), diamond headband and matching earrings. As for the song, I actually liked this more than her performance last week. This was packed with emotion and vocal control. She changes the lyrics to “Idol, I can see your halo,” and it’s one of the rare lyric changes that actually works (right up there with Camille Velasco’s lyric change to “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” in Season 3 to shoutout to the islands that she was on her way home). There’s an absolutely GLORIOUS moment where all the music drops out and she just vibes on the song without any accompaniment for about twenty to thirty seconds. SO cool. This was the best performance of the night so far, for me.
-Jennifer doesn’t know what else to say other than that La’Porsha is the one to beat right now. Harry says that every time La’Porsha sings, she forces him to look at a song with new eyes. He calls her a master at “arcing” a song, giving each new arrangement a beginning, a middle and an end. Keith says it’s hard to just let go and perform when you’re in the Idol machine, with all the stylists and everything. But he saw how La’Porsha managed to just let go halfway through. After the performance, Ryan says they really could have used La’Porsha at the Oscars. No kidding.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: La’Porsha Renae Soars Like An Angel With ‘Halo’ On American Idol 2016
-We see another Idol Grammy moment, as Kelly wins her first. She considered the “best night ever”. Hell, I would too.
HARRY CONNICK JR. PERFORMS “(I DO) LIKE WE DO”!
-The big news in all this is a commercial prior to this that airs in my local area (and maybe it aired in yours too) revealing that Harry is getting his own daytime talk show in the fall, adding to my theory that anyone who’s famous long enough will get a daytime talk show. With that said, I think Harry’s a better option than most for a show like this. As for the song, it’s not exactly my cup of tea, but I can’t pretend it’s a bad song or anything. Harry sounds a bit like Randy Newman here, illustrating a different side I didn’t know existed. Harry is one of my favorite singers when he does classic jazz standards, but not so much on songs like this. After the performance, Harry talks about the new daytime show, and says he’ll have his band with him, and they’ll be doing comedy segments as well. Hey, anything to break from the dreary business of your average daytime talk show.
-Back from break with a pointless talk with Scott Borchetta. I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but I really don’t care all that much about his platitudes when we’re 90 minutes into a show. Onto the results…
TRENT HARMON is safe!
-Trent says that people tell him about the weird faces he makes, and how he should probably pull back a bit. But he admits he never watches his performances. He just feels the music, and his face does whatever it does. He tries singing in the mirror to see if it improves, and Scott Borchetta notices the improvement during rehearsal. Let’s see if he can stick to it.
-Trent sings “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Michael Bolton, and it’s LEAGUES better than his performance last week. Seriously, I’ve always enjoyed Trent, and this performance reminded me why. Just a soulful, full-bodied vocal, with a falsetto that delivered in ways his falsetto last week didn’t. And he didn’t pull any crazy faces either! This was one of the best performances of the night. Trent could be a dark horse in this competition.
-Harry thinks Trent’s talent for high, sustained notes is an incredible gift. He then asks if Trent has been talking to someone about his exaggerated jaw vibrato. Jennifer loves it, but Harry says it’s very bad for a singer, and she won’t love it so much when Trent doesn’t have a voice in ten years. He thinks Trent can achieve that vibrato without the jaw tremors. Keith loves Trent’s runs, and how his passion carries him. Jennifer loves everything about Trent, and had a vision about him and La’Porsha in the final. “Not to take anything away from the other contestants!” she adds, as if it isn’t already too late. Harry even calls her out on it. Good for him. That was an annoying thing for her to say, I thought.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Trent Harmon Sings ‘When A Man Loves A Woman’ on American Idol 2016
-Back from break with Gianna, Olivia, Tristan and Avalon. Only one person can be safe. The other three are in the Bottom 3. The result…
OLIVIA ROX, AVALON YOUNG AND GIANNA ISABELLA are in the Bottom 3!
TRISTAN MCINTOSH is safe!
-SERIOUSLY, America?! Blech. Tristan is a super sweet girl, and she does have talent, but I just don’t get her. Like, at all. She’s just not ready for this, and it’s never more evident than when we see her rehearsal: she performs “Clarity”, and Scott says he doesn’t like it. So she breaks down and has to be taken away and consoled by an assistant. She eventually does change her song though.
-Tristan sings “Go Rest Hight On That Mountain” by Vince Gill, and this is easily her best vocal of the competition. She’s accompanying herself on the piano, and the simple staging (with little more than a single spotlight), is terrific. Tristan is still far from my favorite person in the competition, but that was the best I’ve heard from Tristan. I don’t get the standing ovation from Keith and Jennifer though.
-Keith praises Scott for getting her to change the song, and plugs Vince Gill’s new album. Jennifer loved that, and said this is the Tristan they fell in love with. Harry asked if Tristan was thinking of anyone, and she dedicates the song to her grandfather, who recently broke his back. Here’s to a speedy recovery for her grandpa! Broken bones are no joke.
-As we go to break, we’re reminded that Olivia, Gianna and Avalon are the Bottom 3. In a new twist, the Judges will be picking the singer who stays. Personally, I want Avalon to stay. But realistically, she’d only get another week out of this whole thing. But Olivia has the potential to last another three. So, with all of that taken into account, watch them save Gianna.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Tristan McIntosh Sings ‘Go Rest High on That Mountain’ On American Idol 2016
-Back from break, as Keith is stunned that these three are the Bottom 3. He encourages them to give it all they’ve got.
AVALON YOUNG is up first!
-Avalon took last week’s comments to heart, so she’ll be singing The Weeknd this week, since singing The Weeknd makes her feel cool, like she has swag. She talks about what a change it’s been to have her makeup and hair done, saying her hair is #onfleek. That said, she’s gotten criticism for not staying all-natural, yet when she stays natural, people criticize her for not caring about her appearance. I agree that it’s totally unfair.
-Avalon sings “Earned It” by The Weeknd. I LOVE Avalon’s tone so much. And she’s got such a subtly cool vibe about her that comes through here. While I’m an Olivia fan, I’m torn. I love Avalon and think she’s just so cool. But if she goes through, how much longer will she really last?
-Jennifer says that was what Avalon needed to come out and do, saying there’s no one in the competition like her right now. Harry thinks she needed a fantastic performance, and that performance was exactly what she needed, saying it was the perfect song. He adds that if she doesn’t feel natural wearing makeup, then she shouldn’t, because she’s so naturally beautiful that it shouldn’t matter. Keith dug it, and thought it was clever how Avalon avoided doing the falsetto hook. After the performance, Avalon says she felt this song was more in her wheelhouse than last week.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Avalon Young Sings ‘Earned It’ on American Idol 2016
OLIVIA ROX is up next!
-Olivia talks about having the flu last week, and how her blood levels were dangerous for her kidneys. It wasn’t until she was faced with the possibility of being pulled from the competition that she realized how much she wanted to stay. She says she can’t let anything keep her down, and that she has to know that she’s got this.
-Olivia sings “Trouble” by Pink, a song she claimed was out of her wheelhouse. But you’d never know it from how she sings this. I believe her as a rocker chick about 1000x more than I believe Sonika. She’s bringing that “angry ex-girlfriend” vibe Sonika was trying to bring, and even delivers some amazing rock-and-roll vocal runs. I loved this.
-Harry says that, in a vacuum, that was a really good performance. But he feels Olivia is competing with someone who chose a song that showed more vulnerability. But he feels her talent is absolutely undeniable. Keith thinks Olivia’s vocal range is insane, adding that there are parts of her voice they never heard before, so this choice won’t be easy. Jennifer feels everything about that performance said “I want to stay here,” but she agrees with Harry that they need to believe her when she says something like “I’m trouble” in a song. This is just white noise to me right now. Olivia slayed that.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Olivia Rox Sings ‘Trouble’ On American Idol 2016
GIANNA ISABELLA closes the show!
-Gianna talks about how the judges didn’t want her singing grown-up songs, yet here she is singing “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys. She plans on getting into the emotion of the song by imagining what her parents felt when they first got together. Scott Borchetta isn’t buying it yet though, saying she needs to really get inside these songs. Gianna vows to bring it, saying she isn’t in her basement anymore, she’s in the spotlight.
-Gianna delivers a stunning opening to this song. Just a great vocal there. She looks stunning too, like a total star. That said, while this was probably her best vocal of the competition, this was the weakest of the Bottom 3 performances, for me. This song choice just tells me that Gianna is never going to learn, and that she’s just going to keep singing these songs that are beyond her. I like Gianna and I think she’s uber-talented, but this didn’t do it for me. She seems distressed too, fighting back tears by the end of it.
-Keith was hungry for more emotionally, but thinks her pitch is beautiful. Jennifer thinks everyone gave it their all tonight, and says Gianna was one of her favorites early in the competition. Harry thinks Gianna has an incredible vocal gift, and states she’s usually so adorable, but she has had a very adult transformation here tonight. He’s right. She looks like a total grownup here.
WATCH AND DISCUSS: Gianna Isabella Sings ‘If I Aint Got You’ On American Idol 2016
-Ryan interviews the three contestants as we prepare to find out the results. Just get on with it already! It’s 9:57!
-The judges have deliberated, and they’ve made their choice.
The singer advancing to the Top 8 is…AVALON YOUNG!
OLIVIA ROX and GIANNA ISABELLA have been eliminated from AMERICAN IDOL 2016!
I’m genuinely shocked. I thought Olivia would go all the way. Ah well, shows what I know.
Guess I’m going to vote into overdrive for Avalon now, because if she only survives one more week, then we lost Olivia for nothing. Plus, I kind of adore Avalon, far more than some of the other contestants still remaining. So consider me aboard the Avalon Express!
WATCH AND DISCUSS: American Idol 2016 Results: Who Went Home On Top 8 Double Elimination (VIDEO)
But what did you think of tonight’s show? Who were the best? Who fell short? What did you think of the results? Did the right singers go home? Sound off in the comments!
Until next week, thanks for reading and hanging out!