“American Idol” recap: Aloha, it’s judgement day

(KAPOLEI, Hawaii) — Aloha Hawaii!

American Idol changed up the scenery and headed to beautiful Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa on Sunday to narrow down the Top 40. The contestants and judges — Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan — got a chance to soak up some fun in the sun before it’s back to business. 

Each American Idol hopeful performed in front of a live audience and the judges in one last performance that ultimately determined if they would make to the Top 20 where America will take over and decide their fate. 

Nick Merico was first up on the chopping block. This soon-to-be heartthrob serenaded the ladies in the audience with his performance of “If I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars. Afterward, Nick was reminded that Lionel wasn’t a fan of his in the beginning but oh how things have changed. Lionel delivered the great news that he’s moving on into the Top 20. 

Next up, Makayla Brownlee. After a health scare almost took her out of the competition last week, she’s back more determined than ever. Taking a risk, she puts her spin on Ingrid Andress’ “More Hearts Than Mine.” Unfortunately, this wasn’t a risk that would pay off in the end and she’s the first to be eliminated.

Dewayne Crocker Jr. brought the party to Hawaii with his reggae twist of “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X, a performance that ended up being one of Katy, Lionel, and Luke’s favorites of the night — they were even up on their feet dancing. His country-rap performance earned him a trip back to Hollywood for a chance to win over America. 

The next three contestants — Devon Alexander, Jordan Jones, Geena — were grouped together in a little montage of singers who were good, but not quite good enough and were sent home.  

Louis Knight’s performance of “Castle On The Hill” by Ed Sheeran was almost categorized under that same umbrella but his past performances and his potential were enough to push him through. 

It was a different story for Francisco Martin, who had previously choked during a duet performance with Louis. He shined the brightest that he’s ever with a performance that exuded confidence, a huge improvement from prior auditions which was noticed by Luke who jumped for joy in his seat (think Tom Cruise on Oprah’s couch-style). His next challenge is to see if he can get America to have the same reaction when he heads back to Hollywood. 

Taking the stage next were Jovin Webb & Faith Becnel. They were partners during the duets round and they have stayed consistent for the most part throughout their time on American Idol so far, which is why it was easy for them to slide right into the Top 20. 

That wasn’t quite the case when it came to Amber Fiedler, who showed up to her initial audition pregnant but had given birth by the time Hollywood week rolled around. She delivered a fun rendition of Lake Street Dive’s “Good Kisser” but it wasn’t Top 20 worthy. 

One contestant who has repeatedly shown she is Top 20 worthy was Just Sam. Taking on a more “feminine” and “beautiful” look, Katy described the performance as a metamorphosis. Just Sam stunned everyone with her song choice of “Como La Flor” by Selena, a song which is completely in Spanish, a language she doesn’t fluently know. 

Jonny West took the Hawaiian stage next for his first performance without his girlfriend Margie Mays in the competition with him. She was there to show her support though as he performed “You Found Me” by The Fray. She was also there to hear the good news that he made it to the next step of the competition — one step past where Margie made it during a previous season.

Rounding out the night was Dillon James but fans will have to wait until Monday to find out his fate and if he fills on of the last 11 open slots where plenty more American Idol hopefuls remaining to battle it out for their futures. 

Eliminated: Makayla Brownlee, Devon Alexander, Jordan Jones, Geena, Camryn Leigh Smith, and Amber Fiedler

Top 20 bound: Nick Merico, Dewayne Crocker, Jr., Louis Knight, Francisco Martin, Jovin Webb, Faith Becnel, Just Sam, and Jonny West

American Idol returns Monday, March 30 at 8 p.m. ET.

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