American Idol 5th Judge: Katy Perry Disrespects One Contestant to Complain About Top 20 Results

Last season's "American Idol" winner Hunter Thompson and runner-up HunterGirl join Smokey Robinson as special guests on a three-hour extravaganza that sees the Top 20 perform for only 12 slots on Monday's show.

It was a long night of performances on “American Idol” with a few front-runners faltering and another Platinum Ticket holder falling short of the Top 20.

To make things even worse, Katy called their name out when the other Platinum Ticket holder did make it in. She then proceeded to disrespect the last singer of the night, clearly upset that one of her favorites didn’t make it into the Top 20. She made this singer’s feedback all about the results and how frustrated she was overall, taking away from their big moment.

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Luke tried to cover for Katy a bit, but it wasn’t until Lionel’s comments that the singer finally got some genuine feedback about their performance. Yes, it was the last performance of the night and the judges’ last chance to say something on the air, but don’t take away from someone else’s moment to complain about the voting.

To make matters even more awkward, we actually agreed with America’s vote in this instance. The night was broken in half, just like last week’s Top 26 shows. We got our results and performances from the Top 10 from each half, and overall, our predictions from last week were pretty solid — except for one artist we had right toward the top of our rankings who somehow still got the boot!

Read on for all of tonight’s Top 10 performances, including an impressive number of original songs (including one very poignant and politically powerful song about the state of our nation today from the youth perspective), and our full predictions for who will make it into the Top 12 by the end of Monday’s show. Ten make it in by America’s vote alone, leaving the other ten to battle it out for just two saves from the judges.

Even with 20 contestant performances, the show managed to squeeze in two bonus performances. Smokey Robinson proved that he’s still got it after 66 years in the biz. Then, on the other end of the spectrum, last year’s winner and runner-up, Noah Thompson and HunterGirl, returned to the stage that made them with their new duet.

Fair warning, since I’m safe at home, I’m probably going to be a little harsher than my colleagues Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan. But I might be nicer, too. Maybe.

And just for fun, I’m going to rank the performances from worst to first to see who my favorites are in each round. That way I can see who’s the best and then see if you get it right with your votes – i.e., agree with me.

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Smokey Robinson

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(“I Second That Emotion,” Smokey Robinson & The Miracles & “If We Don’t Have Each Other,” Smokey Robinson) As much fun as it was to hear a classic Smokey track, we found ourselves connecting even more to his new single. Even at 83 years old, Smokey Robinson still has that beautiful smokiness in his voice. It was such a confident and smooth performance — no phoning it in like many legends do on the live stage. Smokey’s still got it and Smokey still brings it. A true class act and icon.

Noah Thompson & HunterGirl

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(“One Day Tonight,” Noah Thompson) It’s amazing what just under a year can do for a performer. HunterGirl was always so confident and killed it on the stage, but the growth in Noah even from his winning moment to tonight is monumental. He’s still got a bit of his “aw shucks” persona, which we hope he never loses, but there was also stage presence and charisma and charm to go along with it. HG’s voice is almost overpowering at times, but they play well off of one another on what’s a great little country track for Noah.

TOP 20

Matt Wilson

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(“Say You Won’t Let Go,” James Arthur – 21, Buffalo, NY) Matt’s production package was all about reconnecting with his students, so more of that same sweet relationship he has as a teacher’s aide that we’ve seen all along. We also got to see the pride he has in his mother, and how moving it all was for him. Matt is looking to make a moment both for himself and to serve as inspiration for his kids.

This wasn’t the moment Matt was looking for. He’s got a very smooth sound that lays nicely on the ears, but we only were able to really mellow in that during the middle portions of this performance. The beginning was lacking any sort of punch or connection (and the original is all connection). The end felt like it was starting to go off the rails a bit. We have a feeling he’s not going to be really happy with it. It’s not that it was terrible, but on a night of brutal cuts, it may not have been enough, either.

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Warren Peay

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(“Up There Down Here,” Chris Janson – 24, Bamberg, SC) Warren opened up about his passion for gardening and the struggles that sometimes come with trying to keep a plant alive. He then equated that uncertainty with his earlier struggles with alcohol, which started all the way back in high school. His focus shifted from drinking into music and his faith. That change brought him to the biggest stage of his life, in more ways than one, where the path may be laid clear. We also loved Ryan in his own Warren beard, as well as Warren’s family back home.

Warren’s got that natural gritty tone that is wholly his, helping him stand out in any crowd of singers. About half of this performance was exactly what we wanted from him, and thankfully his strongest parts came in the back part. We would hear some nerves perhaps in the first verse, but the second was filled with that magical conviction. We know Warren believes what he’s singing and we wanted to believe it through his voice. By the end, he was connecting much more strongly.

Hannah Nicolaisen

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(“Somebody to Love,” Queen – 24, Houston, TX) Hannah’s story is about what happens when one chapter ends in our lives. You can either close the book or you can begin the next chapter. That’s what music is for this former volleyball player, and it’s something that brings out that competitive drive in her, making her want to be even better in this new venture than she was in her last one.

This was an interesting song choice, but by the end she definitely had our attention. It was a smart, strategic choice as it showcased her vocal ability and range, but was it memorable enough as a moment? Did she feel any connection to the piece, or was it just another step in the competition? There was a lot to be impressed by, though, from the range, that hint of grit, her total command and even her managing of that crazy syncopation in the verse. She nailed the performance, but did she have the kind of moment anyone will want to fight for with their votes?

Michael Williams

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(“Love You to Love Me,” Selena Gomez – 21, Mason, OH) Like many of his generation, Michael has been documenting his entire “American Idol” journey. In part, he says he’s doing it because it feels like it’s all flying by. But also — and he’s got the home video to prove it — his parents have been documenting his journey in music his whole life, so this felt like a natural progression.

He broke on a “Yeah!” later in the song, but by then he’d started to lose us. After an incredible outing last week, he was hit-or-miss this week for us with a gorgeous tone on the gentler verses and a faltering rush into the chorus. Those were not his strongest moments, so we’re glad he started and finished in his strengths. We didn’t get on board the MW train early on, like Katy did, but last week sold us that he’s got the goods. This week was a little inconsistent, so we’ll have to see if America still sees it. Maybe the new haircut will help.

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Mariah Faith

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(“Cry to Me,” Solomon Burke – 22, Conway, SC) Mariah is all about family, sharing that she lives in a tiny house basically in her parents’ back yard. Throw in the grandparents just two minutes away, and they’re basically all together as much as they can be. After struggling to be away from them, she was thrilled her grandparents were in the audience tonight.

With this bluesy performance, Mariah was giving us a more tamed Janis Joplin vibe and we found ourselves kind of hoping she’d cut loose just a little bit. A little recklessness on the stage can sometimes be just the magic drip you need to push yourself to the next level. Mariah has such truth pouring from her vocal chords, we found ourselves wanting even more. We know she can go there and allow herself to get totally lost in the music. Katy wanted her to strike a balance from pulling heartstrings and having fun like Bonnie Raitt does.

Marybeth Byrd

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(“People Pleaser,” Marybeth Byrd – 22, Armorel, AR) We loved seeing Marybeth open up to her radio listeners about her journey. She also shared how music helped her get through and ultimately overcome a stutter when she was younger. She also shared her struggles with anxiety and how hard it is sometimes to get out of her head and own the moment.

It feels like the message of this original got a little muddled in the cut to fit into the show’s tight frame. The different elements of it we did hear, though, had a very strong and polished sound. Marybeth has a great tone to her voice, and we were drawn in by the little emotional breaks throughout, as well. It’s clear the song has a lot of meaning to her, even if the story wasn’t completely clear on the outside. She sounds absolutely real, though, and was feeling every line, which can be everything.

Colin Stough

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(“Pretty Heart,” Parker McCollum – 18, Amory, MS) Colin is that authentic kid from nowhere who’s got this unbelievable talent and because of where he is and how he grew up, he has no idea. On top of that, he doesn’t even really fathom that you can do something with it because where he comes from it’s military, factory or driving a truck. There are so many people who feel those same limits on their possibilities, and Colin’s story — and the belief from his mom — speaks to all of them.

This is a great song, but is it a great song for this show? It kept Colin in the softest part of his voice pretty much the whole way, denying us his wonderful gravel and some of that emotional impact that we usually get from his performances. It felt more like he was warming up his voice with this piece and then we never got the real moment. Was this a mistake, or will America feel still that love for this humble giant and rely some, perhaps, on his journey to this point?

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Paige Anne

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(“Say Something,” A Great Big World – 16, Idaho Falls, ID) Talk about a surprise, Paige Anne went from out of the competition to the Top 20 just like that! It’s easy to understand why this triggers all of her nerves, as her journey has been more tumultuous than anyone’s. More than anyone, she understands how it feels to have it end in an instant.

This was not a pitch-perfect performance, but it had enough emotion for half a dozen typical “Idol” performances. It’s clear that Paige was fighting with her beating heart and all of those feelings welling up within her, but she channeled it into this moment and really made it her own. The arrangement was audacious in surprising ways, making us lean forward and take notice, and she had some special moments along the way (some shaky ones, too). Can America forgive the missteps and see the shinier bits?

Haven Madison

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(“Mean Girls,” Leanna Crawford- 17, Clarksville, TN) Haven talked about being a junior in high school when this whirlwind that is “Idol” slammed into her life. But the tremendous support of that community behind her is propelling her. She also again connected with her father being a part of the music industry, making it a lifelong part of her memories.

After a misstep last week that the audience clearly forgave, Haven returned to her roots as a teen girl singing about the challenges and struggles of being a teen girl. This is where she shines brightest because she is telling her story and the stories of her peers. That truthfulness infuses throughout the performance, though we have to admit we like her gentler voice better than when she belts out those bigger notes. She’s got a sweet quality in there that is really impactful.

Oliver Steele

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(“Too Soon,” Oliver Steele – 25, Mount Juliet, TN) Already inspired to follow this journey by his father, whose health problems took him away from music, Oliver is now struggling with some feelings of guilt after revealing his father had been in the hospital for a month or so while he was away and is now on daily dialysis. At the same time, he knows his “Idol” journey is bringing his father joy through his challenges.

It’s always a huge risk to bring an original out because now the song has to be great as well as your vocals. Well, Oliver doesn’t have to worry about the song, because it was a killer track, but he was just a bit wild on it. When he connected, it was exactly what he needed to be doing, but he was a little hesitant in the opening verse and then strayed a bit toward the end. This performance was all heart, though. It just felt like he got swallowed up in the bigness of all of this for some of it.

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(“Un-Break My Heart,” Toni Braxton – 26, Tbilisi, Georgia) Two driving motivations for Nutsa growing up and pursuing music was to chase her dreams to America and, more immediately, to help her struggling single mother put food on the table and provide for her family. She shared a sweet clip from her younger years of her on a television program talking about how she wanted to make it to Hollywood, and now here she is.

She sped up the tempo of this R&B classic to get through more of it, which cost us a bit of the emotional punch early on. Once we settled into it, she proved again how impressive her instrument is. It wasn’t until she hit that classic “Idol” note (which isn’t as popular as it used to be) that this really kicked into gear and started to stand out. Before that, it was a nearly note-perfect cover, which is impressive but– but, is it memorable enough?

Lucy Love

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(“Boulders,” Lucy Love – 28, Holly Grove, AR) Lucy is a survivor who never quits fighting. That’s been her story since long before “Idol.” She grew up knowing what struggle was, and as a single mother, she continues to know that same struggle. But you take it one day at a time, tackling one thing at a time, and you keep moving forward. That’s the message of this original song, which she wrote in one of her moments of personal crisis.

We loved the imagery she was going for with this idea of feeling like you’re carrying boulders on your shoulders, because that can be what it feels like. But the message was a little muddled in the delivery, which felt a little too strong throughout. Look,it’s not our song and we get that, but it felt like it would have benefited from a build toward triumph when she can finally throw off that weight and live free. Wouldn’t that lightness lend itself to bigger notes as it progresses?

Nailyah Serenity

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(“Baby Love,” Mother’s Finest – 23, Charlotte, NC) When she’s not singing, we learned that Nailyah is so into astrology, she hosts her own channel about it. She talks about Katy being a Scorpio with mirrored eyes, Lionel captivating with his Gemini smile and Luke’s nurturing Cancer vibe. She shared that she feels this journey was written in the stars — you think “Idol” wrote that for her?

Her performance was certainly shooting for the stars, with incredible energy, power and attitude. We mean attitude in a great way, though, as she was selling the vibe of the song perfectly. She commanded the stage, looking and sounding like a seasoned professional up there. That hint of grit helped punctuate her performance. It was a stellar performance, so she just needs to hope that’s enough to kick through the rest of the lineup.

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Olivia Soli

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(“I Surrender,” Céline Dion – 21, Los Angeles, CA) Olivia and her sister came up in music together, but after a bad accident, her sister had to give up piano as she lost full functionality in one of her hands. In a way, she feels like she’s pursuing both of their dreams with this journey, keeping her sister by her side and in her heart with each performance.

From Mariah Carey last week to Céline Dion classic tonight, Olivia is fearless in taking on some of the biggest voices in popular music. She definitely looks and sounds the part, effortlessly soaring through those big notes, putting a thick vibrato on her sustained moments, nailing each note as she moves toward the next big moment. She started with Lionel’s “Hello,” so it’s been a bit of a departure to see this diva side, but she’s definitely owning this lane.

Wé Ani

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(“Skyfall,” Adele – 24, Harlem, NY) As if we didn’t already know Wé was an absolute sweetheart, she shared how she connected with a little girl who was signing everything for her mother during the Hawaii show. She learned as a way to communicate with her younger brother, who lost his hearing for a few years when he was younger. She said that ASL influences her whole body performance technique, which is even more touching!

Here’s how good Wé is. We did not love this song choice for her at all, but we loved her on it. Her voice is just that impactful when she sings. The lower register is astonishingly full and beautiful, her range and control, the choices she makes, everything just feels right moment by moment. Even the ethereal little wail at the end was the perfect way to end this haunting performance.

Zachariah Smith

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(“I Want to Know What Love Is,” Foreigner – 20, Amory, MS) A month ago, Zachariah’s hometown was ravaged by a tornado. The footage and images from it showed heartbreaking devastation, but Zachariah’s takeaway was how heartening it was seeing people helping others in need. As such, he now feels he’s taking this journey for his whole community, as well as his family.

The end result was a renewed intensity and emotional connection, which isn’t always easy to do on these big ’80s rock anthems. Nevertheless, we could feel the passion he had for this moment, and it helped elevate what was already a killer vocal performance. His voice is just built for this kind of soaring, rock sound. It’s so natural and authentic. Even better, with his approach and that passion, the song didn’t come across as dated as it sometimes can in the wrong hands.

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Tyson Venegas

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(“180,” Tyson Venegas – 17, Vancouver, BC) An awkward moment when Ryan mentioned his Platinum Ticket before revealing his identity and Katy shouted, “Elijah [McCormick]!” but this was Tyson’s moment. His video moment seemed to mean even more to his mom, who narrated for him some of the memories where he sang and sang. It was so sweet to see how much she was into the video, and how proud she is to be with her son now.

What a powerful song written by a young man looking at the future that we are handing to these next generations — and not really loving the picture we’ve been painting for generations. There is a great energy to the delivery, but even more powerful is the beautiful and honest lyrics. Tyson is speaking for his entire generation with this piece, airing out their frustrations balanced out by their hope that maybe, just maybe, it’s not too late for all of us. Punch in the stunning voice that we first fell in love with and he reminded us all why he went Platinum in the first place.


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(“Bruises,” Lewis Capaldi – 21, Algonquin, IL) Kaeyra opened up about growing up in a Polish community outside of Chicago (the second largest Polish population that isn’t Poland itself). She talked about her parents being immigrants, chasing their American dream, and how this journey for her is a continuation of the chase.

Kaeyra showed how you can have a strong emotional connection from the first note. We felt her from the very start of this. Any concerns that she would lose something of her performance growth with a return to the piano was erased immediately. There was this beautiful growl, cry, elevation in her voice. We’ll admit we were a little distracted by her lips literally on the mic, but everything else was exactly what she was needing to do to demand her spot.

Megan Danielle

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(“Holy Water,” We the Kingdom – 21, Douglasville, GA) Megan put a lot of blame on herself for the end of her parents’ marriage. Add to that a feeling that she was never pretty enough and never talented enough, and it’s evident why self-doubt has plagued her on this journey. Each validation only lasted as far as the next hurdle. Will this next moment give her that belief in herself?

From top to bottom, every layer of Megan’s voice is equally incredible and transfixing. She can suck us in with the gravel in her softer register, and then grab us by the throat and throttle us with her big notes and every single one of them is pitch-perfect. She is so preternaturally gifted and she has absolutely no idea how good she is. Imagine what she’ll be capable of when she does.

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Iam Tongi

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(“The Winner Takes It All,” ABBA – 18, Kahuku, HI) How is it that Iam can leave us with tears in our eyes just talking. His package was about all the love and messages he’s been getting around the world since his audition, how he’s helped other people grieve their fathers and connect with their losses. He shared that it’s helped him, too. Iam has been the heart of this season since the start, and he’s still got everyone’s.

Once again, his choices are so subtle but so impactful. Starting with the only accompaniment his dad’s guitar was perfect to draw us into the intimacy of the performance. Then, some gentle background singing. This was a consummate master of his craft inviting us to see how he interprets this classic track and it was mesmerizing. There was so little going on, but we could hear a pin drop in that studio; that’s the kind of audience command Iam creates with almost zero effort. He’s just got it.


We didn’t love Katy taking up Wé’s feedback time to complain about the results. As Wé was the last one in the Top 20 of the night, it was pretty clear that Katy was upset to see Platinum Winner Elijah McCormick go home.

She already thought he’d gone through when she mistakenly shouted his name when Tyson Venegas was called, but it was pretty disrespectful of Wé’s time and performance to focus so much on who didn’t make it. And we’re not the only ones to feel this way…

Also, it just proves that Katy wasn’t paying as close attention in Hawaii as we were, because this is exactly what we predicted would happen (before we chickened out and didn’t think three guys from Group 2 would go home).

We will concede that we also thought Elijah might sneak through, though we knew he was in trouble after a really off performance last week. Instead, it was Tyson who escaped elimination. As for Malik Heard and Dawson Wayne, we had a feeling their journey was at an end.

We didn’t do quite as well with the first group considering our second-favorite performer of the night got the boot. We really thought Emma Busse had something special, but clearly America disagreed. The other two eliminated were our Bottom 2 picks, and we suspected both PJAE and Elise Kristine would go.

With these eliminations, a season already weighted toward women pushed even further in that direction. It went from a 14-12 women-controlled Top 26 to a 12-8 Top 20. There are definitely some strong men in the competition, but the fact America doesn’t seem to care about gender parity means everyone is going to have to step it up.

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Tonight’s eliminations are pure insanity, with literally half of this Top 20 falling short of America’s Top 10. From there, only two of the remaining 10 finalists will get to advance after performing again. As such, it’s going to be much harder to predict what will happen in that group — unless some judge favorites fall into it.

We did pretty good last week with our predictions, but we expect this time to do far, far worse. Rather than go with who we thought should be eliminated, we instead shifted focus on who we thought America was really behind, which gave us easily our first several contestants.

In the order of our rankings above, we can’t imagine a season without Iam Tongi (1), Megan Danielle (2), Tyson Venegas (4), Zachariah Smith (5), and Wé Ani (6). In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if that was our Top 5 contestants at the end of this thing — though it may depend on Tyson’s consistency and if anyone else steps up.

The other five who will be safe are a little harder to see. We saw greatness out of Kaeyra (2), but for some reason feel like she might be our surprise elimination on Monday night’s show. We have a little more confidence in Nailyah Serenity (8), Nutsa (10), Oliver Steele (11), and Haven Madison (12).

For the last slot, we were flip-flopping between Colin Stough (14) and Marybeth Byrd (15). We’d give the edge to Colin because normally he’d rank much higher than that and we know America is already rooting for him. That puts Marybeth as a strong contender in the judges’ vote (or vice-versa if she somehow gets through over him).

More likely, though, America’s Top 10 won’t look much like ours at all, so a whole different batch of contenders will be in the mix for the judges’ saves. If that’s the case, we’ll just go with whomever we ranked highest of who is in America’s Bottom 10 (how’s that for a cop-out!).

“American Idol” continues Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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