LOS ANGELES -- The eight finalists on "American Idol" paid tribute to one of the world's most iconic rock and roll bands, Queen, on Sunday's episode.
The show opened with the eight finalists singing "We Will Rock You." Then each performer took on an individual song from the legendary Queen catalog.
They had a very knowledgeable helping hand this week: 2009 "Idol" alumnus Adam Lambert served as guest mentor. He's currently touring with Queen.
The top eight performed twice during this round; the second song had them partnering up with another contender for classic movie duet performances.
Here's a recap of the performances from the top eight "Idol" hopefuls:
Walker Burroughs kicked things off and his first reaction to meeting Adam Lambert was to tell the "Idol" alum he looked like a pirate. That clearly broke the ice and the two had a good mentoring session.
Walker admitted he's scared of using the stage; Adam bluntly told him to get used to it. Lambert also told the newcomer that it's OK to be quirky and weird and awkward as long as you're being yourself. Burroughs performed "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" and the judges loved it. Katy Perry applauded Walker for using all of his appendages; Luke Bryan spoke from experience and said when you can have fun with yourself it's endearing to the audience; and Lionel Richie concurred, saying if you're not having fun the audience isn't either.
Madison VanDenburg was next, singing "The Show Must Go On." Lambert was clearly impressed with her voice, but warned her about making it all look so easy. He advised her to heighten the performance, bring a more theatrical approach, own it, and embrace going into "diva mode." The judges responded with Luke telling her this song was a game changer, and he was glad to see her embrace Adam's advice of taking her "diva moment." Lionel says Madison made us feel what she was feeling, and that's what singers should do; And Katy went into "stage mom" mode, telling the young singer she wanted to see a little more on stage... specifically, a foot stomp or a hair flip.
For the first duet of the night, Laine Hardy and Laci Kaye Booth sang a Johnny Cash/June Carter Cash classic "Jackson" which was used in the movie "Walk the Line."
Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon was doubly nervous this week; one, he was being coached by Adam Lambert. But secondly, he was anxious because his parents were coming to see him on "Idol" for the first time. Jeremiah sang the ballad, "Who Wants to Live Forever," and originally planned to use his guitar. Lambert questioned that decision, and encouraged Jeremiah to re-think using an instrument because it might take away from the power of the song. Katy thought Jeremiah embodied Freddie Mercury, and told him his performance and journey are a beautiful thing to witness. Luke told Jeremiah he's spoiling the judges with his talent; and Lionel thinks Jeremiah draws people in with his powerful talent.
Alejandro Aranda sang the Queen/David Bowie collaboration "Under Pressure." Lambert asked Alejandro if he was nervous; when Aranda said yes Adam said "Good! That's what the song is about!" As we've seen in past weeks, Alejandro is changing the arrangement to make it in his own style and Adam tells him it's OK. He also lets him know that it's one secret to "Idol"... people like to see something turned on its ear.
Luke loved the quieter version Alejandro performed, and thinks the young singer sees things differently from the rest of us and that's OK. Paint your way! Do your own thing! Lionel told him he's an artist and a stylist, and that he shouldn't lose doing things in his unique way. Katy's advice was that authenticity can be your "secret sauce;" but warned that authenticity can also be your worst enemy.
Duet number two saw Wade Cota and Alyssa Raghu perform the Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell classic, "Ain't No Mountain High Enough." It's been in lots of movies but most recently "Guardians of the Galaxy."
Another duet followed: Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon and Madison VanDenburg sang "A Million Dreams" from "The Greatest Showman."
Laine Hardy meets Lambert and off the bat reveals he's very shy. Adam tells him you can't be scared of your own shadow if you want to sing rock and roll. Laine's song is "Fat Bottomed Girls," so this is a chance for this Louisiana country music young man to find a real rock star moment. And not just find it, but own it. Laine jokes "party with a Hardy!" And he's wearing sparkly gold boots to help fit the bill. Luke says, yes, while Laine is country at heart it's OK to do the rock star thing too. Lionel reminded Laine that he must be his own head cheerleader; it's the performer's job to pump up the crowd, and if you don't feel it... fake it! Katy danced throughout the performance, and said it's one of her favorite songs. Host Ryan Seacrest let us at home know the girls up in the front row are loving them some Laine.
Adam Lambert says he's enamored by Laci Kaye Booth's voice. She admits to him that she gets very nervous; he says that's common and you can learn how to hide your nerves, and even harness them to make them work for her. Laci was a sponge and took it all to heart. Lionel loves her voice, and said unquestionably, she's a star; Katy told Laci she's sparkling like the diamond they always knew she was; and that no matter what she's a winner. Luke is impressed with the way Laci can capture and sell the emotion of any song.
Guitar playing singers Walker Burroughs and Alejandro Aranda duet on the classic Simon and Garfunkel song "Mrs. Robinson" from "The Graduate."
Wade Cota reveals he's a big fan of Adam's and questioned why Lambert did not win his season on "Idol." "What the heck, America?" he joked. Wade says he plays Queen's "We are the Champions" all the time when he gigs in local bars. Adam says Wade needs to tap into the intent of this particular song; it says he deserves to be here. Nerves got the best of Wade during his live performance and he missed a lyric; because he was singing one of the most recognizable songs in rock history, everybody knew. But Luke Bryan praised him for carrying through the hiccup, and reassured him that every performer has been there. Lionel applauded Wade for constantly proving he's a fighter, but reminded him that by getting this far, he's already won. Katy likes that Wade shows off different sides to his music, and then had her own reminder for him: whatever happens, Adam didn't win "Idol" but he won in life.
Last to perform: Alyssa Raghu. She sang another Queen anthem, "Somebody to Love." Adam likes her natural theatricality, and thinks she's perfect for Queen. He wants her to be more playful, and, like with Madison, let her know "Diva" is not a bad word. Lionel says Alyssa is the epitome of determination, and he encouraged her to never lose that drive; Katy remind her she's only 17, and still going through puberty, so her whole life is ahead of her.
Ryan quickly ran down the artists who made the top six: Jeremiah, Laci, Madison, Laine, Alejandro and Wade.
That meant Walker and Alyssa were in the bottom two. The judges chose not to use their one "save" of the season, so they were both eliminated.
A new round of "American Idol" airs next Sunday, May 5, on ABC.
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