'American Idol' determines Top 8, judges save Avalon Young over Olivia Rox and Gianna Isabella
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/04/2016
American Idol determined its farewell season's Top 8 singers, who then took the stage for home viewer votes Thursday night on Fox.
Idol host Ryan Seacrest announced seven of the Top 8 artists one by one, prompting them to perform for America's votes. When three of the Top 10 singers were left on the stage, they each performed and judges Jennifer Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. could only save one of them, ultimately eliminating two hopefuls.
The two contestants ousted from the competition were Olivia Rox, a 16-year-old student from Agoura Hills, CA, and Gianna Isabella, a 15-year-old student from Jackson, NJ.
The judges chose to save Avalon Young, a 21-year-old server from San Diego, CA, who had also landed in the bottom three with Olivia and Gianna.
Throughout the episode, Ryan called out contestants' names in no particular order. The singers who received the most votes and therefore automatically made it into the Top 8 were Dalton Rapattoni, Lee Jean, Sonika Vaid, Mackenize Bourg, La'Porsha Renae, Trent Harmon and Tristan McIntosh.
Dalton sang "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons. It wasn't a great song for him because he typically changes up arrangements more. Harry complimented his "sincerity and intensity," but admitted some "electricity" he usually brings to the stage was missing.
Lee performed "Use Somebody" by Kings of Leon. While the judges liked it for the most part, they thought he could've showcased more power in the vocals. Harry, however, called Lee "smart, strong and enthusiastic."
Sonika took the stage with "Since You've Been Gone" by Kelly Clarkson. The judges advised her to get lost in a character, and Keith wanted more of an "angry" and "fiery" girl since the song called for it.
Mackenzie sang "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" by Whitney Houston. Mackenzie pulled off a brand new arrangement and the judges loved it. Harry suggested he should've tried it acoustic by himself.
La'Porsha performed "Halo" by Beyonce. Jennifer confessed she's "a hard act to follow" and "the one to beat" in this competition. Jennifer said La'Porsha was becoming a star right in front of their eyes and she's very blessed.
Trent took the stage with "When a Man Loves a Woman" by Michael Bolton. Harry appreciates Trent's high sustained notes, but Keith advised him not to let control over his strange facial expressions hinder his ability to emote. Jennifer didn't want to change a thing about Trent and noted she could envision him in the finale with La'Porsha.
Tristan sang "Go Rest High On That Mountain" by Vince Gill. The judges agreed it was an excellent song choice and mentor Scott Borchetta knew what he was talking about because he had thrown out the song "Clarity" that she originally wanted to do. She found her sweet spot and comfort zone with this song.
That left Avalon, Olivia and Gianna in the bottom three, fighting for the judges' support.
Avalon nailed a performance of "Earned It" by The Weeknd. The judges said that's exactly what she needed to do and Harry thought it was fantastic, that it couldn't have been better for her. She felt the lyric, delivered it well and felt comfortable onstage.
Olivia belted out "Trouble" by P!nk. It was an energetic vocal and her performance was good, however, the judges didn't find it believable. Her vocal range was dubbed "insane," but Jennifer pointed out that she needed to come across as real "trouble," not just sound great.
Gianna performed "If I Ain't got You" by Alicia Keys. She has a gorgeous voice, but like Olivia, the judges wanted more heart. Her pitch was spot-on and Harry complimented her incredible vocal gift.
All three contestants gave their performances their all. Jennifer revealed the judges would take every moment of this competition into consideration.
"This is probably one of the most painful decisions we've had to make. I don't think we've ever seen a bottom three with this much vocal ability -- ever. But the last person who made the Top 8 tonight is Avalon," Jennifer announced.