“American Idol” was a bit of a tear-jerker Thursday night. Not only did viewers say goodbye to a fan-favorite contestant, but each of the remaining “Idol” hopefuls shared powerful and heartwarming stories about their pasts. Two performances even left judge Jennifer Lopez on the verge of tears.
Thursday’s episode 19 was America’s Choice Night, meaning fans got to pick which songs the contestants performed. In round one all six contestants performed before judges Lopez, Keith Urban and Harry Connick Jr. used their save — the last one of the season — to decide which singer out of the bottom two got to stay in the competition. In round two, only the Top 5 finalists performed in hopes that America will vote them through to the next part of the competition.
Trent Harmon was the first name called to make it past eliminations and into the Top 5. He performed One Republic’s “Counting Stars,” but didn’t impress the judges with it. Urban said he wasn’t “pulled in” by the performance, and Lopez told him it wasn’t a good song choice for him. Connick Jr. decided to give Trent a pass because America chose the song for him. The judges were torn on Dalton Rapattoni singing “Numb” by Lincoln Park. Lopez didn’t really like it and Urban said he should have “stripped it down” a little more. However, Connick Jr. liked it and told the rocker he “poured his guts” into the lyrics.
Next up to make it to the 2016 Top 5 finalists was La’Porsha Renae. The single mom, who has become a favorite among fans and the judges, performed India Arie’s ballad “Ready For Love” for her first song. All three judges praised La’Porsha’s rendition and didn’t have anything bad to say. Urban even said he didn’t feel like a judge watching her, but rather someone in audience “watching a beautiful performance.”
Even though La’Porsha has been doing well on the show, she does have some stiff competition. The judges were also really impressed with MacKenzie Bourg’s performance of “Wild World” by Cat Stevens. Lopez told the singer she enjoyed “every second of it” and Connick Jr. told MacKenzie that his performance was so good that he could go into the studio and record it as his own. Urban gave MacKenzie a rather weird — but very positive — critique, comparing the young singer to cake batter. “Even when it’s not cooked, it’s still really good,” Urban explained.
Round one ended with singers Tristan McIntosh and Sonika Vaid in the bottom two and in jeopardy of being eliminated. Sonika was also in the bottom last week and got the judges save, and it seemed her magic worked again. After deliberating, the judges chose to keep Sonika in the competition and send Tristan home.
Dalton kicked off the second round performing Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence.” This performance was much better than his first time taking the stage with all three judges telling him how much they enjoyed it. Lopez said it was like Dalton gave a piece of his soul and Urban said the rocker “did the song justice.”
After getting the judges save, Sonika struggled to get through round two. Connick Jr. wasn’t impressed with her rendition of Zedd’s “Clarity” and Urban suggested Sonika try “letting go” while on stage. Lopez simply said she didn’t like the song for her.
The remaining three performances seemed to be home runs for the judges. Lopez told MacKenzie his slowed-down version of Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean” was the best rendition she’s heard on the show, and Urban told him it was “really, really strong.” Trent singing “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd almost made Lopez cry as she reflected on why she loves being a judge on “American Idol.” Urban gushed that it was “lyrically perfect for him” and Connick Jr. wrapped up the critiques saying Trent is a “great singer” and he really enjoyed watching him.
The final contestant to take the stage for Thursday’s show was La’Porsha. After sharing a story of how she overcame an abusive relationship, she belted out the words to Mary J. Blige’s “No More Drama.” La’Porsha started crying at the end of her performance and she received standing ovations from Lopez and Urban. The judges were so impressed by La’Porsha that they didn’t have anything to say.
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“American Idol” airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. EDT on Fox.