ABC/Eric McCandless(HOLLYWOOD) — It's the final countdown…to the Top 40.
It's the end of Hollywood week on American Idol and judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan have some major cuts to make. At this point in the game, they've already weeded through the bad and the good, now its time to start discerning the good from the great.
The episode got off to an amazing start with contestants who have remained consistent since their initial auditions. Kimmy Gabriela oozed "Top 10" material while returning hopeful Genavieve Linkowski left Katy unable to say anything except for "Wow." Jovin Webb was in his element with the live band supporting his raspy soulful voice and performance.
Faith Becnel knocked it out of the park as well and was compared to the country legend, Dolly Parton. Same for Arthur Gunn, who continued to experiment with his song choices by putting his own authentic spin on them which even drove Lionel to shed a tear.
Then things took a turn for the worst when a few contestants decided to take a risk and perform their own original tunes. Rob Taylor, who just one night ago was given the compliment that he could hit every note in the book, failed to have his song resonate with Katy, Lionel, and Luke. The same held true for most of the other risk-takers, that is until Nashville's Lauren Mascitti knocked it out of the park with an original song dedicated to her adorable and loving Nana.
While some betted on their writing skills, others gambled with their song choices and style of singing which, unfortunately, didn't sit well with Katy, Lionel, or Luke and prompted Katy to go give a pep talk backstage urging the competitors to just be themselves…And it worked!
Makayla Brownlee almost didn't get the chance to perform her take on Kacey Musgraves "Rainbow" after suffering a brief medical situation that left her faint. Fortunately, she made it back in time and stunned the judges. Just Sam struggled health-wise as well with her voice, which was left hoarse. She also was left with a "burning" throat from all of the rehearsing but, when it came time to perform, she delivered both the sass and the vocals.
After that, the final contestants perform and Katy, Lionel, and Luke are left debating who will move forward to the next round of the competition. They separate the singers into three groups — only two make it through.
Officially making it to the Top 40 are Aliana Jester, Amber Fiedler, Amelia Joyce, Bilaal Avaz, Cameron Havens, Cyniah Elise, Demi Rae Moreno, Dewayne Crocker, Devon Alexander, Dibesh Rokharel (Arthur Gunn), Dillon James, Elyjuh Rene, Faith Becnel, Francisco Martin, Franklin Boone, Geena Fontanella, Genavieve Linkowski, Grace Leer, Grace Lundy, Jeb Vonderbruegge, Jonny West (without girlfriend Margie Mays), Jordan Jones, Jovin Webb, Julia Gargano, Kimmy Gabriela, Lauren Mascitti, Lauren Spencer Smith, Louie Knight, Makayla Phillips, Makayla Brownlee, Natalie Jane, Nick Merico, Olivia Ximines, Perrin York, Robert Taylor, Samantha Diaz (Just Sam), Sophia Wackerman, Shannon Gibbons, and Travis Finlay.
The Top 40 head to Hawaii's Aulani Disney Resort & Spa where the contestants will sing for their lives in a showcase on the beach before "the most dramatic elimination yet".
American Idol returns Sunday, March 29 at 8 p.m. ET.
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