‘American Idol’: Carrie Underwood Mentors as Final 3 Set for the Finale (RECAP)
Season 20 • Episode 18
After giving the stage to a strong field of budding musical artists, American Idol has set its finale. The Top 5 first ventured to Vegas where they were mentored by Carrie Underwood, one of the most (if not the most) successful alums in the show’s history.
The multi-time Grammy winner took time out of her REFLECTION residency as each singer took on some of her biggest hits before judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie. In Round 2 the quintet was tasked with choosing their “encore” show-closer. In between the fierce competition, Finneas gifted viewers a trippy performance of his new single “Naked.” Rita Ora also stopped by with Diane Warren to provide a first look at the music video for the new girl-power anthem “Finish Line.”
When the stardust settled, America’s vote decided who impressed enough to earn a spot in the finale. Who carried on to the end? Find out how the night shook out below. Spoilers ahead.
A dream in itself was the country girl meeting Carrie Underwood. Her advice to the fresh face on the scene HunterGirl was to talk herself up. The popular finalist chose “Undo It,” even channeling the Carrie strut and bringing that sassy side out. Lionel liked how she owned the stage. Katy and Luke said it was HunterGirl’s best performance. The Winchester, Tennessee native then went to Little Big Town for “Girl Crush.” Lionel felt the sound was crystal clear. Katy has a girl crush and said her nieces were voting for HunterGirl. Luke told her she was in star mode right now.
Leah told Carrie most of the covers she did on a YouTube channel as a kid were her covers. She chose “I’ll Stand by You.” Originally done by The Pretenders, it was a song that the Idol gold standard sang for a charitable Idol Gives Back show back in the day. Carrie could hear the artistry. Katy thought she reinvented the song and was also impressed with the a capella sesh with Carrie during their mentor session. Luke found it beautiful from the presentation to the music. Lionel was impressed by how Leah made it her song. In round 2, she selected Journey’s “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)” and tore the house down. Luke was blown away. Lionel said she is in the zone. Katy found Leah breathed new life to a 1980s classic.
Fritz was out of quarantine after battling COVID meeting Carrie, who felt he gave a softer viewpoint to “I Wanna Remember.” A 2021 collaboration with Needtobreathe. Carrie told the singer-songwriter to use those nerves, and in the end, showed him how to take the proper selfie. Luke liked the guitar work and his take on the song. Lionel enjoyed the stage presence. Katy called him consistently amazing. The 22-year-old from Tyler, Texas showed another side with his second performance, choosing “Youngblood” by 5 Seconds of Summer. Katy thought he was so cool with those dance skills. Luke wants the show to take the clip removed of him turning down Frtiz in the initial audition. Lionel was impressed with the showmanship. A great one-two punch, but not enough to make it to the final round.
Noah sat down with Carrie virtually due to COVID. She told him to close his eyes and picture nobody is there as a trick to fight nerves. Carrie connected to Noah’s story of a small-town boy dreaming big. Keeping with that sentiment, the dedicated dad returned to an in-person live audience for “So Small.” Lionel remarked on his authenticity and ability to tell stories. Katy liked how he moved on stage and encouraged him to interact with the audience. Luke then demonstrated what she meant. The Louisa, Kentucky construction worker picked the perfect song to showcase how far he has come in “Working Man” by Larry Fleet. Lionel pleaded if you want this man, vote. Katy said he aced the test. Luke appreciates how he can work a room.
The vocal powerhouse told Carrie she was doing “Blown Away.” Carrie said the Canadian 18-year-old made the song her own by slowing down the cadence. Katy likes how Nicolina is always looking at ways to make the performance memorable. This time one complete with a cape and wind machine. Luke said she delivered once again. Lionel’s advice was to stay in this pocket, finding her stride. The Toronto, Ontario 18-year-old continued to shine on Adele’s “All I Ask.” “And the marquee says Nicolina,” Luke concluded after hearing the show-stealer. Lionel called it an American Idol treasured moment. Katy added she came to play. Surprisingly, it was not enough to make it to the finale.
American Idol finale, May 22, 8/7c, ABC