'American Idol' reveals Top 7 contestants and cuts Grace Leer, Sophia James, Jovin Webb and Makayla Phillips -- Plus Katy Perry picks a winner!
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/11/2020
American Idol determined its Top 7 contestants for Season 18 and featured those singers each performing two songs in the hope of landing a spot in next week's finale during Sunday night's broadcast on ABC.
America voted the following contestants into the Top 7: Julia Gargano, a 21-year-old college student from Staten Island, NY; Arthur Gunn, a 21-year-old musician from Wichita, KS; Dillon James, a 26-year-old construction worker from Bakersfield, CA; Louis Knight, a 19-year-old pizza delivery guy from Philadelphia, PA; Francisco Martin, a 19-year-old college student from San Francisco, CA; Just Sam, a 21-year-old subway singer from Harlem, NY; and Jonny West, a 23-year-old piano teacher from Murietta, CA.
The results unfortunately eliminated Grace Leer, a 28-year-old in technology sales from Nashville, TN; Sophia Wackerman, a 20-year-old college student from Long Beach, CA, who now calls herself Sophia James; Jovin Webb, a 29-year-old musician from Gonzales, LA; and Makayla Phillips, a 17-year-old high school student from Temecula, CA, from the competition.
For the first round, Arthur performed "Kiss the Girl" from The Little Mermaid, and Katy told him that he looked relaxed and cool. Katy felt Arthur had engaged the audience and transported her to the beach.
Luke said Arthur has the potential to be "a massive recording artist," and Lionel added Arthur puts his stamp on every song and he's definitely selling his style and identity.
Just Sam serenaded viewers with "A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes" from Cinderella.
Luke insisted Just Sam is so deserving of her spot in the Top 7 and her voice holds up at every level of her range.
Lionel gushed about how Just Sam felt like the judges' child and they watched her grow up right in front of them. Lionel called her "a star," but Katy wanted a little more gas from Just Sam in the song.
Jonny performed "Almost There" from The Princess and the Frog.
Lionel called Jonny their "casual assassin" because he makes singing look so effortless. Katy said Jonny is a "concoction" of Billy Joel, Randy Newman and Paul Simon.
Katy told Jonny he picked the correct song and had stayed true to himself, and Luke was thinking during the performance, "My God, this guy is just a pro! Way to deliver."
Louis sang "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" from The Lion King.
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Katy called performance "amazing" and said Niall Horan better watch out. Katy said she got lost in the performance thinking about Louis' future in 10 years, when he's such a massive star. Katy advised him to lean in vocally to his next performance.
Luke said he loved the tenderness in Louis' voice and it was done well; however, he admitted it became "linear" three quarters of the way into the song.
Lionel suggested Louis struggled to focus and stay on the mark, but he insisted Louis "has the stroke" and just needs to continue pushing forward.
Julia belted out "Beauty and the Beast" from Beauty and the Beast.
Luke said he loves when Julia lives in the "cry" in her voice and the song was a little bit low in his opinion, but he complimented her on owning the song and executing a great performance.
Lionel agreed Julia needed to concentrate more on her lower register because her high moments were better, but Katy said her voice sounded gorgeous.
"The star quality for you is already at a 10. I loved that arrangement. I thought it was super soulful, but I agree with the other judges... on where your voice best sets," Katy shared.
Francisco performed "You'll Be in My Heart" from Tarzan.
Lionel gushed about how viewers are witnessing the transformation of Francisco, who is showcasing confidence and emotion through his vocals.
Katy said she thought the performance was amazing and Francisco looked relaxed.
"What you gave us at the end is kind of what I wanted from Louis Knight. Look, this is a competition, let's get real. There is only one Idol and you were spot on with your performance, and at the end, you let us have it with the talent of your voice," Katy explained.
Luke complimented Francisco of doing a great job and coming across as the "King of American Idol."
Dillon sang "Our Town" from the movie Cars, and Katy said Dillon applied their constructive criticism from last week magnificently because she was engaged with his performance and he was "making love to the camera" in a sincere way.
Luke said Dillon brought emotion and dynamics to the table, and Lionel dubbed him a "storyteller" and "true artist."
Kicking off the second round of performances in honor of Mother's Day.
Arthur sang "Hey, Ma" by Bon Iver in tribute to his mother Maiya, and Luke noted the high part of his voice is such a signature, natural sound.
"The singing we're hearing from you, your spoiling us... You've never had a bad performance," Luke noted.
Lionel told Arthur that he could probably sing the phonebook because no matter what he sings, it sounds like Arthur Gunn. And Katy called it a beautiful dedication that showed off his indie-folk genre.
"You are finally making me believe that you are a professional touring musician," Katy said.
Lionel said he was going to be "Papa Lionel" for her for the rest of her life, and he said she had taken one step closer to her dream. Katy praised Just Sam for her growth throughout the competition and "victory" in her voice.
Luke told Just Sam that she has all the tools in her voice and her middle-range is "smooth as butter." Luke told her that she's inspiring many little girls out there.
Jonny performed "Amazing Grace" for his mother Michelle and even rewrote a portion of the song.
"Jonny, you are so original and so talented. You're a lot like [Alejandro Aranda], but you're not Alejandro. You are definitely your own star. I am 100 percent sold. I definitely think you should win this competition," Katy revealed.
"And even if you don't, I bet you will have the biggest career."
Luke said Jonny has God-given songwriting talents and commands attention in his performances, and Lionel added he has a future in the business without a doubt.
The performance made Katy cry, and Luke said Louis gave so much emotion in the song as well as the dynamics the judge had been craving from him.
Lionel said Louis did exactly what he needed to do -- belt something out that's simple and heartfelt. And Katy said he had finally given them the wingspan the judges had been looking for.
Julia belted out "Sweetest Devotion" by Adele for her mother Jeanne. Katy said she loves hearing Julia's voice expand from ballads to pop songs to classic songs.
"I think this is just going to be a fantastic launching pad for you, Julia, and you should get read. Because when they let you loose, you are going to fly," Katy said.
Luke called the performance "badass" and said Julia totally owned the song, and Lionel praised Julia for giving attitude and delivering one of her best vocals yet.
Francisco then dedicated the following song to Fatima: "River" by Leon Bridges.
Katy couldn't believe it but said Francisco had grown even more and he really separated himself from the pack. Katy said Francisco was making it difficult for the other contestants by bringing something so real, emotional and heartfelt to the table.
"I think he beat the original record. I think it was better than the actual thing," Luke confessed, adding, "From the first note, I would buy that right now."
Lionel told Francisco his confidence shined through and he's no longer in his head.
"You have a career... and we saw it happen here on American Idol," Lionel noted.
And finally, Dillon performed "Hang On, Hang On" by Amos Lee in tribute of his mother Lindy.
Katy cried again and Luke complimented Dillon for rising above his struggles in life and coming out the other side. Lionel told Dillon he's a fabulous inspiration and he just executed "the best of the best" in terms of what he's capable of.
Katy said Dillon had fought his way out of a really dark place and he appeared light and free.