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Top 24 named on 'American Idol' including one Georgian


Posted Monday, April 2, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

"American Idol" unveiled the top 24, which shows a nice variety of country, pop, R&B and rock with the first drag queen ever to make it this far.

Oddly, we see only 23 of the 24 mentioned. Where is Alyssa Raghu??? She supposedly made the top 24 but we never saw it.

One Georgian made the cut: Caleb Lee Hutchinson. He is the only country male singer who made it this far and the judges clearly love him. So his chances to make the top 14 are not bad.

There is yet another round of taped solo performances and celebrity duets come Sunday. The celebrities: Aloe Blacc, Sugarland, Luis Fonsi , Lea Michele, Bishop Briggs, Cam, Andy Grammer, Rachel Platten, Pat Monahan, Allen Stone and Bebe Rexha.

Up first: Layla Spring. She is the cutesy 16 year old with the adoring sister. She blossoms nicely in her very truncated live version of "Proud Mary." Luke Bryan called her a "spark plug." Katy thought she had to speed up her vibrato - and she did. "You learned so much," Katy said. She's in the top 24.

Michael Woodard, clearly a judge favorite after his third solo performance, decided to take an unexpected song choice "You Oughta Know" by Alanis Morissette. Again, he's wearing a denim jumpsuit that makes him look like he's ready to work as a custodial engineer. It's truly weird but in an interesting and entertaining way. He may not have the voice but he clearly has the personality. He's an easy in despite his nerves.

Construction worker Trevor Holmes hoped Katy Perry's "crush" on him (and vice versa) would get him to the top 24. It isn't to be. His Niall Horan's "Slow Hands" during the showcase didn't move Katy. "I'm over him," she said. Then, "maybe not." It's more style than substance. Katy feels like she needs more and said he isn't moving on. Ouch. He takes it well.

Gabby Barrett was told not to sing "Church Bells" during her initial audition but decided to do it anyway. She thinks it shows diversity. The judges aren't thrilled by the song pick. The judges preferred her do R&B. But she does hit a big note at the end that may have saved her She said her family has struggled, her dad juggling four jobs and feels this could change her fortunes. Katy clearly didn't want her through but Luke pushed her into the top 24.

Thaddeus Johnson, who was cut in the top 50 season 9, feels he's ready now. He does Jill Scott's "Hate On Me" in total gospel mold. He doesn't hold back. But he doesn't make the cut in a bit of a surprise. Many of the other singers look shocked.

Michelle Sussett, the Latino starlet, goes for Bruno Mars "24K Magic" with plenty of sultriness and energy. She doesn't have the greatest vocals but she has that pop thing I'm sure "Idol" wants. She is in the top 24.

Four more are in - Dominique, Trevor McBane, Maddie Poppe and Ron Bultongez - but we don't get to hear them. Hopefully "Idol" will release their performances online.

Catie Turner, the quirkiest of the quirk on the show, goes Lady Gaga and is super fun. It's impossible to take your eyes off of her. Catie is super happy right after she performed but on the "Green Mile" day she is super emotional. "That's a heavy door and I have no upper arm strength,' she said entering. Before coming to Hollywood, she was worried about rejection. Now she has just grown. "It's a big land of weirdos," Katy said. She said Catie's live performance was shaky. They do one of those fakeouts with a commercial break but come on, she's made the top 24.

Four singers get cut: Milos Spisato, Les Greene, Britney Holmes (who won the contest to get back in the competition) and William Casanova.

Jurnee has one of the most sophisticated pop singers in the competition and she doesn't disappoint with "Never Enough" by Loren Allred. It doesn't hurt that she has the right look, too. Katy thinks she should own it even more. I'm not sure she has the personality that will garner votes but she could certainly end up in the top 14.

Shannon O'Hara decides to do a Katy Perry song. She strips down "Unconditionally." Her voice is exceptionally pretty but she never quite lets go. Still, Katy is teary eyed.

Kay Kay, Amelia Harris, Brandon Diaz all cruise through. Poor Kay Kay has been virtually ignored by the editors. (We only hear tiny clips of their performances.)

Noah Davis, the alpaca farm kid, is so charming and sweet. Can he pull it off? He does "You & I" by Lady Gaga with serious pitch issues. He choked big time. He's eliminated.

More cut: Harper Grace, Carly Moffa, Samothias, Lee Vasi, and East Point's Victoria McQueen

Ada Vox (Adam Sanders) is now performing in drag. "She taught me not to be afraid to be who I am," Adam said, of Ada. She goes for Radiohead's "Creep" in Broadway/diva style and pulls it off. His presence in the top 24 is a statement in and of itself. He shows the judges Adam during the "Green Mile" walk. "I believe 100 percent my talent speaks for itself," he said.

Jonny Brenns managed to get through despite a messy third round performance. And now his dad shows up finally! He goes for Sam Smith and does a super pretty soulful version of "Lay Me Down." He definitely has the look of a possible star. "He's a winner in my eyes," his dad said. The judges think so, too. He makes it in the top 24.

Mara Justine, the youngest contestant left in the competition, is just 15. She goes for Etta James' "Something's Gotta Hold On Me." She looks way too young to be doing this but she's channeling her inner Tina Turner. Katy: "She needs to tone it down." Luke compliments her fire and energy. Katy thinks she is creating bad habits like flipping her hair too much. "There's too much frosting on this cake," she said. But they are critiquing her because they are going to see more of her now that she's in the top 24.

Georgia's Caleb Lee Hutchinson opts for Chris Stapleton's "I Was Wrong." The judges are beside themselves with joy. He has that old-school country feel that is, as Lionel said, identifiable. Katy: "You really represent the heart of America. I just don't want you to turn you in a character that is one dimensional." He's in!

Garrett Jacobs and Laine Hardy are similar New Orleans singers. So they bring them in together. Garrett is not only attractive but humble and delightful. Laine is edgier and darker. I like them both equally. But Laine doesn't make the cut while Garrett does. Bummer.

Cade Foehner is the resident rocker and rodeo dude this season. He stands out with a 70s vibe that could garner votes. His third round solo song stood out. He goes for "No Good" by Kaleo. Rock, to him, is becoming "a lost art" and hope it "boosts me through." It does.

Maddie Zahm is someone I really liked up to this point. She is competing with another potential keeper Effie Passero for the final female slot. Unfortunately, for some reason, Maddie's Pink does not work as expected. It's good but not good enough. "Shaky performance," Katy said.

Effie has a better voice than Maddie overall and she opts for Garth Brooks' "The Dance." It's a song her mom sang to her as a child. And she does a stupendous job, the best I heard today. Katy didn't think it was a kill. I did. You are wrong, Katy!

So Maddie is out. Effie stays.

The final two dudes: Dennis Lorenzo and Marcio Donaldson.

Dennis lived in a tent when he came to L.A. but then his life turned around and he met his wife. They have a small son. Marcio has had a rough life and he too has a small son from another family member. Both tell teary stories.

Marcio's "If You Really Love Me" by Stevie Wonder has its moments to show off his range though it's a bit uneven.

Dennis' "A Song For You" is more controlled, more emotive, just better to me. I like his outfit, too.

But good news! They didn't do the math and are in fact both in the top 24.


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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.