“American Idol” top seven become five on Prince night

AMERICAN IDOL – “115 (Top 10 – Disney Night)” – “American Idol” heads to the happiest place on earth, Disneyland Resort, then returns to the Idol stage with a sprinkle of magic to perform fan-favorite Disney songs, as the search for AmericaÕs next superstar continues on its new home on AmericaÕs network, The ABC Television Network, SUNDAY, APRIL 29 (8:00-10:01 p.m. EDT/5:00-7:01 p.m. PDT). (ABC/Eric McCandless)
GABYY BARRETT, CADE FOEHNER, CALEB LEE HUTCHINSON, MADDIE POPPE, MICHAEL J. WOODARD

Posted Sunday, May 6, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio and TV Talk blog

This was easily the best live show they’ve had so far. All seven contestants rose to the occasion. There were some oddball song choices (e.g. Catie Turner doing Britney, Cade Foehner doing Jewel) but on the most part, they worked.

In the end, Jurnee and Catie Turner are going home. As you know, I was not a Jurnee fan so no big loss there but Catie brought something fun and odball to the table so it’s sad to see her go.

The final five: Georgia’s Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Maddie Poppe, Gabby Barrett, Cade Foehner and Michael J. Woodard.

They each sang a song written by the legendary artist Prince and one from the year each singer was born. Since the oldest contestant is 21 years old that meant 1996 was as far back as we go tonight.

My favorite tonight was Maddie Poppe’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” followed by Caleb’s “When Doves Cry.” Worst: Jurnee’s “Kiss” followed by Michael Js’ “My Heart Will Go On.”

We also now know “Idol” will go on tour with the top seven and Kris Allen will host and hopefully perform, too. And Carrie Underwood will mentor the top five for next Sunday’s episode. Yes, they will sing Carrie songs.

First up: Jurnee (“Kiss” Prince) – She is wearing a ridiculously tight leather outfit which severely constrains her ability to move around the stage in a natural way. Again, she does a passable karaoke version of the song but brings absolutely nothing interesting or new. I have flabbergasted she’s in the top seven. I would have taken any of the other three who were eliminated last week over her. Grade: C-plus

Second up: Gabby Barrett (“I Hope You Dance” Lee Ann Womack, from year she was born in 2000). I find this song a snore and there isn’t much Gabby can do about that. This is a perfectly serviceable version and highlights her country vocal bonafides. Grade: B/B-minus

AMERICAN IDOL – “116 (Top 7)” – The Top 7 finalists perform two songs this week, battling it out for AmericaÕs vote to make it into the Top 5, as the search for AmericaÕs next superstar continues on its new home on AmericaÕs network, The ABC Television Network, SUNDAY, MAY 6 (8:00-10:01 p.m. EDT, 5:00-7:01 p.m. PDT). (ABC/Eric McCandless)
MICHAEL J. WOODARD

Michael J. Woodward (“I Would Die 4 U” Prince) – Covering a Prince song is tricky given their iconic nature. This cover is a bit odd. The song doesn’t really showcase much of his range. He starts a bit slow but picks up the pace near the end. Grade: B/B-plus

AMERICAN IDOL – “116 (Top 7)” – The Top 7 finalists perform two songs this week, battling it out for AmericaÕs vote to make it into the Top 5, as the search for AmericaÕs next superstar continues on its new home on AmericaÕs network, The ABC Television Network, SUNDAY, MAY 6 (8:00-10:01 p.m. EDT, 5:00-7:01 p.m. PDT). (ABC/Eric McCandless)
CADE FOEHNER

Cade Foehner (“Who Will Save Your Soul” Jewel) – I kind of like this out-of-the-box pick. Like Michael, the arrangement starts a bit off but once he finds his pacing, he gives it the proper rock edge and energy. At least Lionel and Luke both noted the rough opening. Grade: B-plus

AMERICAN IDOL – “116 (Top 7)” – The Top 7 finalists perform two songs this week, battling it out for AmericaÕs vote to make it into the Top 5, as the search for AmericaÕs next superstar continues on its new home on AmericaÕs network, The ABC Television Network, SUNDAY, MAY 6 (8:00-10:01 p.m. EDT, 5:00-7:01 p.m. PDT). (ABC/Eric McCandless)
CATIE TURNER

Catie Turner (“Oops..I Did It Again” Britney Spears) – She goes crazy when she meets Nick Jonas. At first, she can’t even sing while looking him in the eye while singing. At least she doesn’t try to imitate Britney and gives it a little Catie jazzy quirk. It shouldn’t work but it somehow does. Katy said she sounded a bit like Amy Winehouse. Grade: A-minus

AMERICAN IDOL – “116 (Top 7)” – The Top 7 finalists perform two songs this week, battling it out for AmericaÕs vote to make it into the Top 5, as the search for AmericaÕs next superstar continues on its new home on AmericaÕs network, The ABC Television Network, SUNDAY, MAY 6 (8:00-10:01 p.m. EDT, 5:00-7:01 p.m. PDT). (ABC/Eric McCandless)
CALEB LEE HUTCHINSON

Caleb Lee Hutchinson (“Amazed” Lonestar) – Ick. I’m not sure if I hate this more than that Lee Ann Womack song. Okay. I don’t. “I haven’t fully mastered walking on a stage,” he admitted to Nick. Nick tries to give him some suggestions to make him look natural moving on stage. Caleb is such a solid vocalist, he manages to make this palatable though he doesn’t really add anything from the original. Katy noted that without a guitar, he was “flopping like a Gumby.” (He wasn’t that bad.) Grade: B

AMERICAN IDOL – “116 (Top 7)” – The Top 7 finalists perform two songs this week, battling it out for AmericaÕs vote to make it into the Top 5, as the search for AmericaÕs next superstar continues on its new home on AmericaÕs network, The ABC Television Network, SUNDAY, MAY 6 (8:00-10:01 p.m. EDT, 5:00-7:01 p.m. PDT). (ABC/Eric McCandless)
MADDIE POPPE

Maddie Poppe (“Nothing Compares 2 U” Prince) – Finally, a Prince song that matches the singer well. She really hit the mark on this one. I absolutely adored it and would love to hear the full version as opposed to this truncated one. My favorite of the first hour. She wins round one for me. Grade: A/A-minus

Michael J. Woodard (“My Heart Will Go On” Celine Dion from 1998) – This is an audacious song pick. (Somehow, he never saw “Titanic!”). Nick wants him to go for it. He is very earnest and once he goes full throat, he tries to give it that Celine push. But despite one big note, he merely does an okay version, failing to transcend Celine. Katy thinks he could pull a Jennifer Hudson and win an Oscar or Emmy. (The potential is there.) Grade: B

Cate Foehner (“Jungle Love” The Time) – I kind of like this song choice for Cate. The song has a rock feel to it and he transfers the funk over well. And they highlight his guitar playing and some Sheila E drumming to boot. Grade: B-plus/A-minus

Gabby Barrett (“How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore” Prince) – I appreciate she went for a relatively obscure Prince song and throws in some of her bluesy intonations. Then she hits a big note at the end which has real impact. This is her most interesting performance in weeks. Katy likes her stage work and found something new in her voice. Grade: A-minus

Jurnee (“Back At One” Brian McKnight from 1999) – This is her parents’ wedding song. She is far better with ballads than anything that involves moving around the stage. Though I am not a fan of Jurnee, this is one of her better takes. It’s lovely. Katy didn’t like it and said it didn’t bring goosebumps for her. (What? Something negative???) Grade: B/B-plus

Catie Turner (“Manic Monday” The Bangles) – It’s hard to believe but this was actually a Prince-written song. She missed part of the first verse. I’m not sure if she forgot the words or something weird was going on with her earpiece. But she recovers quickly and manages to make it work. Luke, of course, gives her a pass. “It isn’t my night,” Catie said, which Katy quickly corrected her. Catie admitted she forgot the words. Grade: B/B-plus

Maddie Poppe (“If It Makes You Happy” Sheryl Crow from 1999) – A great song choice for a singer songwriter like Poppe. She was solid. Again, I’d love to hear a full version of this. Grade: B-plus

Caleb Lee Hutchinson (“When Doves Cry” Prince) – This is clearly the most out-there cover Caleb has done to date. He doesn’t try to veer away from his own vocal comfort zone and manages to make it work. He keeps the entire version slow and that is just fine. Grade: A-minus


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