American Idol is careening toward its live shows, with quick editing and pushed up time lines. This couldn't have been made any more clear than during Wednesday night's (Feb. 3) episode, in which the top 75 (or so) singers got to perform solo yet again in a chance to make it to Hollywood.
This integral step toward the top 24 was truncated to one hour, giving producer and fan favorites like La'Porsha Renae, Gianna Isabella, Trent Harmon and Lindita absolutely zero screen time. Meanwhile, those singers who did appear on screen got barely more than 30 seconds of actual singing in between storylines, judge chatter and commercials. For a show (unlike The Voice) that is so concentrated on the actual contestants, we saw shockingly few singers and performances during this major cut, which slimmed down the field from about 75 to 51.
Quick-paced storytelling aside, ahead of the big top 24 announcement tonight, we got a glimpse into those who seem like a sure thing for the live shows. Take a look at five of the most memorable solo round performances below:
Olivia Rox, Original Song: Olivia Rox may not get as much screen time as her fellow teens Michelle Marie or Sonika Vaid, but she's one that the judges should pay more attention to. For her solo round audition, she performed an original song, showing off an artistic side that could do well to add credibility to the American Idol stage. Olivia's vocals were crisp and clear, and Keith Urban complimented her songwriting skills as being decent for her age, which felt like a compliment.
Tristan McIntosh, "What Hurts the Most": Some people may have been moved by Tristan McIntosh's tears because she originally signed up too late to sing this Rascal Flatts song, which she said meant so much to her because her mom was in Kuwait. Not to dismiss her feelings, because they were totally valid, but there was something about her song choice drama that felt like "I'm crying because I didn't get what I wanted." I like Tristan, but it just felt mildly immature. A gracious contestant gave in to the waterworks and swapped songs with Tristan, which from a selfish point of view, they should not have done. Tristan already has stunning vocal abilities and her emotional connection to this song only deepened the level of her performance, all but securing her a spot in the top 24.
Lee Jean, "Stitches": Of course Idol's pint-sized Ed Sheeran performed this Shawn Mendes song. It was an obvious yet perfect song choice. Lee Jean, who is clearly in love with his fellow competitor Sara Sturm (though she only sees him as a friend! heartbreak!) was relaxed onstage and sounded pitch perfect. While his tonal proficiency may have taken a little bit of the edge out of this song, Lee himself still felt like a seasoned performer, despite being freshly 16 with notable youthfulness in his voice.
Sonika Vaid, "One Last Time": How many times have we heard Sonika Vaid sing an Ariana Grande song? We're only a few performances in to this show and it already feels like two songs too many. Of course, Sonika's voice matches this glittery pop single perfectly, so it's a smart choice, albeit an obvious one that puts Sonika in danger of seeming unable to adapt and change to new challenges. Those issues aside, Sonika is one of the bright lights of this Idol season and showcased that well here, nailing her millionth Grande cover.
Dalton Rapattoni, "Hopelessly Devoted": Dalton Rapattoni (Idol's de facto 5 Seconds of Summer member) apparently fuzzed out during his performance of this Grease track after his guitar was initially not plugged in. You would never have known that he was out of his comfort zone, because he killed it. First off, hearing a punky pop singer perform this track was a nice twist in the first place, but Dalton also restrained his vocals and executed them in a way that was way more pleasing than it could have been.