‘What just happened???’ ‘American Idol’s’ Final Judgment ends with crazy, unprecedented twist

‘What just happened???’ ‘American Idol’s’ Final Judgment ends with crazy, unprecedented twist

‘What just happened???’ ‘American Idol’s’ Final Judgment ends with crazy, unprecedented twist

“Your performances last night, both of them were really great,” said Luke Bryan, the country music representative on the judging panel. “Lauren, you showed us this rocking side we haven’t seen, and Grace, [you were] really one of the winners of the night, in my opinion. We have one position left, and we couldn’t make a decision. …So, you guys aren’t out of the woods. We’re going turn it over to America.” Ryan Seacrest then revealed that public voting would open immediately following Sunday’s episode, based on the ladies’ Hawaii showcase performances.

“We’re sorry to extend your anxiety, but we love you both,” added Katy Perry, while Lauren and Grace held hands in a daze, trying to process this bombshell. “What just happened? This is insane!” the women gasped, as they stumbled off to tell their families the semi-good news.

Lauren Mascitti and Grace Leer get some shocking news on ‘American Idol.’ (Photo: ABC)

last week and this week, that I feel were less deserving. But if I’m casting my vote, I must go with Grace. Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed Lauren’s rollicking cover of Emmylou Harris’s “Two More Bottles of Wine,” which felt like an old-school Opry performance. Lionel Richie at one point actually yelled out, “I like her!” — which is always a good sign, because likability, even more than vocal ability, is often the name of the game when it comes to Idol. I liked Lauren too. ‘ data-reactid=”43″>I wish both women could have made it — there were some top 20 contestants, revealed both last week and this week, that I feel were less deserving. But if I’m casting my vote, I must go with Grace. Yes, I thoroughly enjoyed Lauren’s rollicking cover of Emmylou Harris’s “Two More Bottles of Wine,” which felt like an old-school Opry performance. Lionel Richie at one point actually yelled out, “I like her!” — which is always a good sign, because likability, even more than vocal ability, is often the name of the game when it comes to Idol. I liked Lauren too. 

Season 16’s Genevieve Linkowski, who’d seemed like a total-package frontrunner when she returned this year, shockingly lost her way in Hawaii. Doing the overdone “You Say” — which has become the “I’ll Be” of Season 18 — she gave a flat and dreary performance. I expected much more raw emotion from a dedication to her recently deceased older sister. “Last night, for some reason, was the first time I didn’t feel a big connection,” Luke later told Genevieve. Maybe if she’d done her Carole King piano thing, it would have worked out better for her.

Fantasia and Joshua Ledet’s scenery-chewing version of the Elton John barnstormer on the Season 11 Idol finale, and I dug the vibe. But Robert had been warned repeatedly by the judges and vocal coaches to tone it down, just a smidge, so this go-for-broke performance indicated that he doesn’t take direction very well (or at all). I was dismayed to see him leave, because I think he would have made this season way more interesting (his own cover of “Natural Woman” was a Hollywood Week highlight this year). I hope he heeds mentor Bobby Bones’s advice to keep singing, and Katy’s advice to “keep the hair.”’ data-reactid=”53″>Conversely, showboating showman Robert Taylor, rocking some awesome new waist-length pastel braids and glitter eyeshadow, came blasting out of the gate with “Take Me to the Pilot.” Sure, it was totally over-the-top, but no more so than Fantasia and Joshua Ledet’s scenery-chewing version of the Elton John barnstormer on the Season 11 Idol finale, and I dug the vibe. But Robert had been warned repeatedly by the judges and vocal coaches to tone it down, just a smidge, so this go-for-broke performance indicated that he doesn’t take direction very well (or at all). I was dismayed to see him leave, because I think he would have made this season way more interesting (his own cover of “Natural Woman” was a Hollywood Week highlight this year). I hope he heeds mentor Bobby Bones’s advice to keep singing, and Katy’s advice to “keep the hair.”

didn’t like Sophia’s performance (after all, when Just Sam pulled a similar 180 last week, everyone thought it was fantastic), but relieved that Katy tipped the scales in Sophia’s favor. It would have sucked if Sophia had ended up in some sort of viewer-voted top 22 purgatory.’ data-reactid=”62″>I was shocked myself to find out that Luke and Lionel didn’t like Sophia’s performance (after all, when Just Sam pulled a similar 180 last week, everyone thought it was fantastic), but relieved that Katy tipped the scales in Sophia’s favor. It would have sucked if Sophia had ended up in some sort of viewer-voted top 22 purgatory.

Gil Rivera auditioned with that song. ‘ data-reactid=”64″>Top 20 contestants that I think could have been swapped out for more captivating contenders (like Demi, Shannon, or Robert) included Aliana Jester, whose “This Is Me” was predictable Idol also-ran fodder; Kimmy Gabriela’s pitch-perfect but generic and perhaps all too fittingly titled “You Don’t Do It for Me Anymore” (even Katy called Kimmy forgettable, before putting her through anyway); and Cyniah Elise and Olivia Ximines’s try-hard and pageant-y performances of “Lady Marmalade” and “Proud Mary,” respectively. I think Cyniah still has a ton of potential, but cheer squad girl Olivia’s number was Branson-like and cloyingly cutesy, right down to the gimmicky fringed Tina Turner cosplay; I much preferred it when the gone-too-soon chest-waxer Gil Rivera auditioned with that song. 

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