The competition on “American Idol” just got a lot broader, with favorite Kenedi Anderson shockingly withdrawing from the competition.
The show’s host, Ryan Seacrest, announced the news in a clip inserted into Monday’s episode after the 17-year-old high school student’s performance of “Human” by Christina Perri, which led to judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan to a standing ovation.
“You may have noticed that there was no voting information during Kenedi’s performance at this point,” Seacrest said as he sat at a table. “Since we filmed these shows in Hawaii before, Kenedi has decided to withdraw from our show for personal reasons.”
He added, “We send you well wishes, and it goes without saying that we have some incredible talent in this historic season, with more iconic ‘Idol’ performances for you right now.”
Anderson has been one of the favorites to win since she auditioned with a moving rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Applause” that inspired the judges to award her one of three platinum tickets, sending her not only to Hollywood Week, but also to pass the first round of cuts.
“You may be the biggest star we’ve ever seen,” Bryan told Anderson after his audition, which garnered more than 4.9 million views on Youtube. “I truly believe that your musical journey for the rest of your life has just started here.”
During Hollywood Week, Anderson followed up with more impressive performances, singing Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me” with fellow contestant Jordan Chase for the duets round and Bruno Mars’ “Talking to the Moon” for the sensationals round.
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On Monday, Anderson sang at Aulani, a Disney resort and spa in Hawaii, before a live audience as part of a lineup of 12 Top 24 contestants. (The other 12 sang on Sunday’s episode.)
Here’s what happened during the episode, which also stopped by pop star Bebe Rexha to offer wisdom and guidance.
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Cadence Baker sure can sing. But one thing she has struggled with has been confidence.
“The judges told me I looked very scared on stage, and that was one of the things I had to work on,” Baker said.
Rexha encouraged her to break down her mental barriers by offering choreography and other tips on how to work on stage. “We’re looking at 80% of Cadence and I want to see 100% of Cadence,” she said.
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And Baker proved she could come out of her shell, singing Etta James’ “Something’s Got a Hold on Me.”
“Your audition really set you up to go far in this competition,” Bryan said. “That performance lived up to your original audition.”
If you want “American Idol” to stay with Baker, text 13 to 21523.
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Sir Blayke said he was looking for romantic closure by choosing to sing The Script’s song “Breakeven”.
Rexha praised her “beautiful soul” and told her to “struggle on stage” with her performance.
Perry said the singer brought a “totally different vibe,” and she liked it.
Richie added that Sir Blayke let the audience feel what he was feeling.
“I don’t care if you’re having the hardest day of your life or the happiest day of your life, bring that emotion to the stage,” he said.
Text 14 to 21523 if you’re not ready to break up with Sir Blayke’s time on “Idol.”
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Allegra Miles put her own spin on Harry Styles’ “Adore You,” singing a slower, jazzier version.
Although Miles has generally performed while playing an instrument, this time he took to the stage with only a microphone in hand, working with the crowd as much as possible.
“That definitely wasn’t the girl sitting behind the piano,” Rexha told Miles later. “You killed that.”
To see Miles continue to rock, text the number 15 to 21523.
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Lady K had a dilemma heading into her top 24 performance: should she sing Season 3 “Idol” winner Fantasia’s “Collard Greens & Cornbread” or Season 3 “Idol” winner Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats”? season 4?
“You should keep it a secret and surprise me,” Rexha advised.
Lady K went for classic Underwood, showing a rougher, sharper side of her voice.
Richie applauded Lady K for how far she has come. On the show, the contestant has been open about her past experiences with homelessness.
“This is from homeless people to Hawaii,” he said. “It’s for you. It’s about you. God bless you.”
Text 16 to 21523 to keep Lady K in the running.
Ava Maybee took a big risk by choosing to sing “Tell Me Something Good” by Rufus & Chaka Khan.
But the singer said she was inspired to choose it after a vivid dream.
“I randomly had a dream that I was going to sing a Chaka Khan song on ‘American Idol,'” she told Rexha.
Richie said that Maybee took the classic and made it his own. “That was pretty risky, but you took care of business,” he said.
If you agree with Maybee, text the number 17 to 21523.
Before her performance of The SteelDrivers’ “Blue Side of the Mountain,” Thompson told Rexha that she was singing the song for her 9-month-old son.
Perry applauded the country singer for “staying true to his roots,” while Richie encouraged him not to let shyness shut him down.
“Keep following your heart and keep being the country boy standing there,” Bryan told him.
Text the number 18 to 21523 to get Thompson into the next round.
Leah Marlene has become known for her unique and creative arrangements of hit pop songs.
And he didn’t disappoint on Monday, with a soulful arrangement of Blondie’s “Call Me.”
Marlene also took Rexha’s advice to really go for the high note at the song’s climax, and if she breaks down with emotion, all the better.
“You’re alone in a lane,” Richie told Marlene. “It’s infinite where you can go.”
Bryan and Perry also loved the performance, but disagreed with Marlene’s vocal strategy moving forward. “You didn’t have me from the beginning,” Bryan said, advising him to play important notes at the beginning of her songs to draw listeners in.
“I disagree,” Perry refuted. “She needed a place to go.”
Bryan said Marlene’s great grades at the end made him change his mind. “You started hitting notes that I was like, ‘Oh my God. You totally beat me to it one more time,'” he said.
If Marlene convinced you too, text 19 to 21523.
Perhaps the most energetic contestant in “Idol” history, Cameron Whitcomb was told by the judges to tone down his flamboyant acting style (which often includes at least one backflip).
To focus her “incredible energy”, Rexha encouraged Whitcomb to begin her performance by singing behind a microphone stand, then removing her microphone to move.
It was solid advice, but Whitcomb didn’t seem interested, not bothering to use a mic stand for his rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising” (which started with, yes, a backflip).
“He’s not doing the mic stand? Come on!” Rexha said during her performance as she glanced sideways at the camera. “He didn’t use any of my advice.”
The judges admired Whitcomb’s boundless stage presence.
“We could sit here and tell you a million times not to move from the stage, and it would be a waste of breath,” Bryan said.
Perry added, “If you don’t get a burst of energy, Lionel and I think you might explode.”
If you’re thinking of Whitcomb, text the number 20 to 21523.
After some encouragement from Rexha regarding his nerves, Christian Guardino performed a flowing rendition of Silk Sonic’s “Leave the Door Open.”
“You see it, and then you hear it, and they’re two different people,” Richie said. “God has given you an amazing gift. Enjoy this journey, my friend.”
Perry said that Guardino becomes “a superhero” on stage.
“You start singing and you can fly,” he added.
To take Guardino to the next round, text the number 21 to 21523.
Although Katyrah Love said her religious family “would have preferred” that she just sing gospel or classical music, she added that they are beginning to engage her foray into pop and other genres on “Idol.”
She sang “Blame It on the Bougie” by The Jacksons, after Rexha encouraged her to tone it down to give her more confidence.
Love’s parents seemed supportive of the audience, following their daughter’s voice.
“I want you to bring mom and dad everywhere because you were acting,” Richie said.
“It all felt natural and it was a great, great job,” added Bryan.
If you’re in love with Katyrah Love’s voice, text 22 to 21523.
Closing out the episode was Fritz Hager, who has regularly impressed the judges with his soulful, folksy sound.
Like other contestants, Hager confessed to Rexha that her nerves are her biggest obstacle.
The pop star said he can relate.
“I can tell when you were playing it you freaked out a little bit for a second,” he said. “I have the same thing. I get so nervous. I get so nervous…Getting that first note is so important because I feel like if I hear that first note, everything is fine.”
Hager performed Dean Lewis’s “Waves” which offered “different depths” to his art, Bryan said.
“I thought what you just gave us was so spectacular,” Perry added, comparing the former security officer to Kings of Leon and Mumford & Sons. “You really are a true artist, and I think you do now.”
“You gave us attitude on attitude,” Richie said. “Give us more of that, Fritz”
Text 23 to 21523 to keep Hager in the running.