When the evening started, I was in Inner Simon Cowell Mode. By the end, I was feeling like a Recording Academy member voting on Grammy nominations. A lot of strong performances by – in keeping with this season – many atypical Idol performers. Kieran, dim the lights. It’s time for the season’s first grades!!!
- Evelyn Cormier (Leaving On a Jet Plane, John Denver). Nobody has ever made this song sound so sad. And that deep, dark voice. Sigh.
- Alejandro. What he sang doesn’t matter. Even the grade doesn’t matter. He’s Alejandro.
- Jeremiah (Make You Feel My Love Bob Dylan). Flawless.
- Dimitrius (Hello Adele). I loved the gothic-gospel twist on this and his amazing voice.
- Laci Kaye (I Want You to Want Me Cheap Trick). Stevie Nicks meets Lana Del Rey. She could win.
- Ryan Hammond (Don’t Say Lauren Daigle). He makes me think of Sam Smith and I hope he stays around and sings a Sam Smith song. I agree he needs to move sometimes for emphasis and audience connection but his voice is gorgeous.
- Laine Hardy (Bring It On Home to Me Sam Cooke). Three tempos!?! Very clever way to maintain audience engagement. He’s not the singer that others in the competition are but he’s becoming quite the entertainer.
- Kate Barnette (Sunday Morning Maroon 5). I like her cool, chill vibe. And that cool, chill arrangement. And her cool, chill voice.
- Wade Coda (All I Want Kodaline). Started slow but you could see his confidence growing throughout the song. Once he starts believing he belongs, he could go far. He’s yet another very unique voice.
- Shawn Robinson (Jealous Nick Jonas). Nice voice but he was too laid back – no fire – on a song that has attitude.
- Uche´(Figures Jesse Reyez). Katy – “You’re a lot.” Yes, and sometimes too much. Especially on song that occasionally blows you away with feeling.
- Eddie Island (Ho Hey The Lumineers). He dropped the clown show so I can take him seriously now.
- Ashley Hess (Dreaming of a Broken Heart John Mayer). Sultry. Solid.
- Logan Johnson (Love Don’t Live Here Anymore City and Colour). Pleasant but sleepy.
- Walker Burroughs (How Deep Is Your Love) I’m parting with the judges – who liked him way more than I did – with no apologies. It was cruise-shippy.
- Madison V. (Domino Jessie J). Bad song choice. It’s a song made for a nimble voice rather than a big one. I’ll leave out all the stuff about dynamics and intervals and trust you’d agree if I explained all that.
- Raquel Trinidad (Lovefool The Cardigans). She’s cute and dressed great but the song didn’t go anywhere.
- Alyssa Raghu (Ain’t It Fun Paramore). I’m told I’m excessively judgmental when people try to sing Paramore. “Not everybody can be Hayley Williams, Dad.” My point exactly.
- Riley Thompson (Jolene Dolly). Way too pageanty for a dark song.
- Bumbly (Vision of Love Mariah). Seriously?
The next cut gets us down from 20 to 14. I’m not sure it will be that hard. But getting down to the Top Ten will be brutal. This is going to fun.
[Tonight’s Musings are brought to you by Dutch Symphonic Pop/Metal band Within Temptation’s sumptuous new album Resist.
 Some grades adjusted up or down after the show based on having the context of all the performances.
 Idolists in each category listed in order of performance.
 With Johanna Jones gone, I’m taking back my proposal to her voice and considering proposing to Evelyn’s instead. Yes, I’m fickle.