Last week, “American Idol” contestants Jay Copeland, and Christian Guardino went home as the Top 5 emerged. They are – Fritz Hager, Leah Marlene, HunterGirl, Nicolina, and Noah Thompson. This week on “American Idol,” those Top 5 contestants traveled to Las Vegas at the Hilton Resorts World to be mentored by former winning contestant Carrie Underwood.
Yes, that’s right! Carrie Underwood! This was an extremely exciting and amazing opportunity for any up and coming singer, let alone an “American Idol” singer. The magnitude of the experience brought most of these singers to tears.
The first round, the Top 5 sang iconic songs from Carrie Underwood’s catalog. In the second round, they chose to sing an encore song. This is a song that the performers would sing at their own show as an encore performance. Intended to get them into the Top 3 for next week’s finale.
Noah Thompson, who was getting over his positive Covid-19 illness, was the only Top 5 contestant who did not get to meet with Underwood in-person. Instead, she gave him pointers virtually via a monitor. With that said, all of the contestants, except one, seemed to have a very strong bonding connection with Underwood. The one was Nicolina.
That plays into the next thing, it wasn’t surprising that Nicolina did not make the Top 3. A gifted singer with an amazingly strong voice, often comes-off as over-confident at times. Her downfall also may have been that she wanted the A.I. win too much. Nicolina’s over the top performances, (ie: the fan blowing and her cape) sometimes can be off-putting. It can be too much. Her two performances included “Blown Away” by Carrie Underwood in the first round. And “All I Ask” by Adele for her second performance. Nicolina has been a favorite of Katy Perry’s who was shown with mouth open, visibly in shock after her elimination.
Fritz Hager sang “I Wanna Remember.” A song that Carrie Underwood did with NEEDTOBREATHE. Fritz got some helpful selfie advice from Underwood as well. Fritz sang “Youngblood” by 5 Seconds of Summer in the second round. Luke Bryan was reminded of how he voted “no” on Fritz moving on to Hollywood week in his audition. Bryan joked that he’ll need “American Idol” to remove that clip. It also appeared that Fritz was paying a tribute to Michael Jackson with his outfit as Lionel pointed out. Sometimes it seems the judges try to influence the votes. This was one of those moments. This vocal observation made by Lionel did not help Fritz to move forward.
During Noah’s time with Underwood, he revealed he was singing her song “So Small.” After she learned that Noah is also from a really small town like her, it really touched her emotionally and she said “American Idol” is for people like her and Noah. Noah walked around the stage during his first performance, and after notably NOT touching anyone in the audience, Katy advised him that he needed to touch someone! Then, Luke Bryan showed him how. In his second performance, Noah sang “Working Man” by Larry Fleet. As Noah sat on a stool and sang while playing his guitar, it was one of the most captivating performances of the night! Thus, Noah also made it to the Top 3.
Leah Marlene showed the power of her voice while singing “I’ll Stand by You” for her first song. In the second round, Leah said when she sang “Heal” that it was a turning point for her in her “American Idol” journey. She chose “Separate Ways” by Journey for her encore song. Once again, she proved the power she has in her voice as she belted out and held notes. Also, proving moving on to the Top 3 was well deserved. Note, that her performance was also the first one where Luke said it was basically now a competition, and “cut-throat.”
HunterGirl, the only Country artist left, was the first contestant of the night to perform. She chose “Undo It” by Carrie Underwood. Her mentoring session with Underwood appeared to go well and HunterGirl was very visibly enamored with Underwood. HunterGirl said she has looked-up to Underwood her whole life. HunterGirl added some movement to her first performance, and since it was Underwood’s song, she knew exactly how to instruct her on the correct “strut.” HunterGirl’s second performance was “Girl Crush” by Little Big Town. She killed both performances, and also made the Top 3.
The Top 3 will also get to go back to their hometown for American Idol Hero’s welcome. Host Ryan Seacrest announced that the show will officially be having a season 21, and now accepting audition submissions online.
Next Sunday night is the “American Idol” season 20 finale on ABC network. All of the judges – Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan, will perform, as well as performances by special guests. Those include: Carrie Underwood, Michael Bubble (whom we know will be performing with Christian Guardino), Sara Bareilles, Ben Platt, Flo Rida, and more!
HUNTERGIRL: Huntergirl got inspired by watching Carrie Underwood’s Las Vegas performance at Resorts World where the Top 5 got to spend some one-on-one time being mentored by Underwood. HunterGirl chose “Undo It” by Carrie Underwood. She said it’s Carrie Underwood who led her to “American Idol” and has looked up to her, her entire life. Underwood advised her that when performing “Undo It”, you have to strut, and she taught HunterGirl the strut. But, she also has “to bring the sass.” HunterGirl is the only female Country artist left in the competition.
Lionel said “that was exactly what she (Underwood) told you to do. There is nothing better than owning the stage.” Katy told HunterGirl that when she moves around, she engages them. She called it the best performance that HunterGirl has ever done. Luke said “way to get inspired by Carrie Underwood.”
LEAH MARLENE: Leah was so excited to tell Underwood how much of an impact she had on her life and as a singer growing-up. She told Underwood that half of the songs her mother posted of her singing on YouTube were Carrie Underwood covers. She was a big inspiration to Leah. Leah chose the song “I’ll Stand By You” for her first round. Underwood suggested that Leah think about all the special friendships she made on “American Idol.” She told Leah that she already has artistry.
Katy called it amazing. Luke “beautiful at all levels,” and “you never look like you’re not in control” and never look like she’s working hard. Lionel said “everybody can sing in some form” but what they’re trying to find is “stylists” He said her voice was “right on point.”
Seacrest recounted Carrie Underwood twenty years ago during Hollywood week when he asked Carrie if she had seen any stars. She said “no, it’s been pretty cloudy.”
FRITZ HAGER: Fritz called Carrie Underwood the gold standard for what they are all trying to do and said he freaked out when he found out about Underwood being the mentor. Fritz sang “I Wanna to Remember .” It’s a song that Carrie did with NEEDTOBREATHE. He said he really connects with the song and wants to remember every moment that he’s on American Idol. Carrie said she can’t wait to see how much more growth from Fritz. Luke said he felt that he was at a Fritz show. Great job on the song Lionel said you either have stage presence or you don’t. Fritz is mild at one point, then the rocker of his life the next. Katy called it “very captivating, and he stayed true to who he was by choosing that song, and he’s consistently “amazing.” Katy noted how Fritz was playing chords without touching them! Fritz admitted to playing “Dungeons and Dragons” during his quarantine time after he caught Covid 19 a couple of weeks ago.
NOAH THOMPSON: Noah Thompson wasn’t able to meet in person with Carrie Underwood, so joined her virtually. He said he was really sick and felt awful. Noah said even though he was sick as a dog, he felt really comfortable, being in his room. Noah chose “So Small” by Carrie Underwood.
Carrie got teary when she said A.I. is for people like her and Noah who are from small towns where a dream of being a super-star singer are dreams too big to dream. “It’s a beautiful thing…that’s the decision (being on “American Idol”) that changed my life,” she said and she doesn’t know where she’d be otherwise.
Lionel said what makes Noah so appealing is that he’s a real person, and he’s a good story-teller. “Noah this is REALLY happening to you.” Katy said “I don’t know what you found between those two ferns for a whole week, but it was good.” She said she’s never seen him move on stage, and advised him to touch some people in the audience because they wanted to be touched by Noah. Luke showed him techniques of touching the fans in the audience.
Carrie Underwood will return to the Idol stage in the finale show to perform her latest single.
NICOLINA: Nicolina said her favorite performance of Carrie’s on A.I. was “Alone” by Heart. A song she sang just last week on the show. Nicolina sang “Blown Away” performed by Carrie Underwood. Nicolina slowed the song down. Underwood loves the strong female in the center of the story in the song. Underwood said Nicolina “has this big beautiful voice” and “she’s going to crush it.”
Katy teased that Nicolina looks for the whole package and she’s proud of her growth. Luke said Nicolina is always looking for that next edge to get people to respond to her. Luke noted that the wind was blowing her hair in her mouth, and it was “messing this girl up.” He said “way to deliver.” Lionel said when you’ve made it, “they bring the fan machine out!” He added, “when you get things blowing, and get the attitude…but stay in this pocket. This is your lane.”
Seacrest said in the “Encore Song” round, it’s a song that the contestants would sing during a show to come back out on stage. The song is intended to get them to the ultimate next round, the Top 3 in the finale.
At the top of that round, Finneas, who was a mentor last season, and now an Oscar winner, returned to the Idol stage to perform “Naked.” Seacrest asked Finneas how he keeps up the momentum. He said the Top 5 are incredibly talented and they all are entitled to “long and incredible careers.”
LEAH MARLENE went with Journey “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart). She said it was when she sang “Heal” that was her turning point on the show because it was her most vulnerable performance.
Luke said “y’all are going after each other now.” This is cut-throat! He said what a dynamic performance. Luke was flabbergasted as to where Leah started and where she’s at right now. Lionel said they all have careers now. “This is a slugfest. Tit for tat and it’s going to get interesting….your career is sitting in front of you.” Katy said she would love to see Leah and Stever Perry go back and forth.
The Top 5 got to record at Sound Factory studios in Hollywood to work with top notch music producers who’ve worked with JLo, Justin Bieber, Arian Grande, and more.
HUNTERGIRL – She got the Platinum Ticket from the judges and she said it felt like someone finally saw her. Her life before getting on the show was playing at venues every night. She sang “Girl Crush” by Little Big Town.
that her performance was amazing and “crystal clear,” and “you’ve got the rest of your life to enjoy your career.” Katy said she’s got a girl crush on HunterGirl. Luke told Huntergirl that she’s “totally in star mode right now.”
Diane Warren and Rita Ora stopped by American Idol to promote their latest music video and project called “Finish Line.” American Idol is holding auditions online for season 21
FRITZ – said if he could sum-up his journey on A.I., it would be “growth.” During his audition, Luke voted “no” because Fritz needed “a little bit more growth.” So, Fritz worked harder before his next performance. Fritz said no matter what happens, his life has been changed forever. He sang “Youngblood” by 5 Seconds of Summer.
Luke said he’s going to need the show to remove the clip of him voting “no” to Fritz and he said he loves everything that Fritz has done. Lionel joked that Fritz was wearing an iconic Michael Jackson outfit with the white T-Shirt, black leather jacket, pants white socks and black loafers. He suggested he walk backwards.
NICOLINA – said through this process, she’s learned to trust herself more. Nicolina chose the song “All I Ask” by Adele. She said her younger self would never believe that she would be on “American Idol.” She said she thinks she’s figured out who she is as an artist. She wants to show her sisters that dreams actually come true.
Nicolina got emotional after her performance. Luke said “the marquee lights said Nicolina.” Lionel reacted that it was an “American Idol” treasured moment. Katy said Nicolina came here to “PLAY,” and “way to bring it out.” Nicolina said she cried because to be able to sing a song by one of her idols, Adele, is crazy to her and a dream.
NOAH THOMPSON – Noah chose the song “Working Man” by Larry Fleet. Noah is a construction worker from Kentucky, and his buddy signed him up for “American Idol.” He said there aren’t many opportunities in the small town where he’s from. Noah said he felt like a fish out of water during Hollywood Week. He wants his son to see that he’s chasing his dreams and that he can too. He didn’t expect to go this far on the show.
Lionel told the audience “If you want this man right here, vote!” Katy told Noah that he just “aced that test.” Luke said just Noah on a stool and a guitar is enough to hold any room in any world that he’s in.
After the commercial break, Seacrest revealed the votes. The Top 3 artists were – HunterGirl, Noah Thompson, and Leah Marlene, who fell down on the stage in shock. Katy Perry displayed a shock of her own when her jaw dropped that Nicolina and Fritz Hager were heading home.
The “American Idol” season 20 finale airs Sunday night, May 22nd on ABC.