Oh hey look at these degrees I'm not using. Clan MacGregor is tonight's drink. Our ten returning contestants aren't the only ones returning to Idol--from seasons 13-15, welcome back judge Harry Connick Jr.! Cyniah Elise is up first, and she wants to show a different side from what she showed last year--she's going rock with "Edge of Midnight (Midnight Sky Remix)" by Miley Cyrus featuring Stevie Nicks. Hey, since when did they put good performances at the beginning of the show?! 86 to start us off strong. Also, when I saw that artist combo I thought "interesting, that's some serious cross-generational pairing", but I actually recognize that song and I'm pretty sure it's older than Miley.
Nick Merico, who was already on his second trip to Hollywood when he made last year's Top 20, is back for round 3. He seems more mature, and he's singing an original called "City Lights" that he wrote for "a special someone". It's...very much unlike the Nick Merico I remember. When'd he become a rocker? Unfortunately, he's still Nick Merico. 69 is the rating, because I like this side of him but he's still a bit lacking in talent. Luke agrees that he's not up to par vocally with this year's competition. Lionel pointedly disagrees with Luke, however. Katy likes the new side of him, moshing and moving about on the stage.
Up third is Aliana Jester, who I felt was robbed last year--she was given the "fodder edit" and I thought she was really good. She's doing Lady Gaga's "I'll Never Love Again" and...oh dear. This feels like an 18--the belting just isn't working for me, and remember, last year's semifinal performance that I thought deserved a spot in the Top 10 was covering Whitney so it's not like it's the style itself that's turning me off. Up fourth is Franklin Boone, and hopefully we don't get something as weird as his rendition of "Everybody Wants to Rule the World". His wife is eight months pregnant. He's doing "Meant to Live" by Switchfoot. I don't think I like this song choice for him. And good lord, it wasn't. I cannot, in good conscience, give Aliana a 2-star rating, but the only way to properly compare this performance to that one would be to give it a score of -6.
Faith Becnel is...still Faith Becnel. Bobby Bones is reviewing her past mistakes, and she's gonna go for redemption on the song that she messed up the lyrics to in Hollywood last year. Unfortunately, that means she's doing a rock song previously done on Idol by one of its greatest rock chicks, Alison Iraheta. She's no Alison Iraheta, but her version of Janis Joplin's "Cry Baby" is certainly a decent palate cleanser after the twin disasters that preceded it. 71.
Before we continue with the actual contestants, it's HCJ's turn, performing "Alone with My Faith", a song from his new album. It's unfair to these contestants to have a professional performing in the same episode. He continues on into "Old Time Religion"...he's a drummer too? And a tuba player, and a trumpeter...is he even going to sing in this song? I don't even know what the third instrument he was playing is called, but he finally starts singing as he heads to the piano, then he finishes up at a different keyboard instrument. Oh, it's called an arpeggi. Thanks, Ryan. Harry is surprised that Ryan knows what an arpeggi is.
Arthur Gunn is doing the Goo Goo Dolls' "Iris", and I'm praying he does it justice because I love the Goo Goo Dolls--with any luck, part of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2021. He was between that and a Bob Dylan song--as late as his time with Bobby Bones, he hadn't decided. ...And that'll be a no. Maybe I just underrated Aliana? Well, at least this one stays in the positives. Barely. 2 is the score. Also, did I speak this into existence last night, like when I suggested "Use Somebody" for Wade and Eddie Island sang it instead?
DeWayne Crocker Jr. is up seventh, and they mention him still having the Christmas tree up in April in his performance last year. He's doing "Voice of God" by Dante Bowe featuring Steffany Gretzinger and Chandler Moore. It's lacking something, but it's not actively bad mostly not actively bad not awful, so I'll give it a 35. Luckily, we're not going to commercial break just yet, but are instead going to see Makayla Phillips. She's singing "Anyone" by Demi Lovato. If the Bobby Bones package is any indication, we're going to get an emotional performance. ...Yeah, that was emotional. She is only 18, so I shouldn't hold it against her if she wasn't at her crispest when she's emotionally connected to the song. ...Oh, wow, she's about to break out into tears on stage, and that gave it the boost it needed. Even the 96 I was going to give it would put a gap of over 100 points between my favorite and least favorite performance, but now it's a 99! She sang it for her sister, who lost her father within the past year (so I guess it's actually a half-sister if it isn't also Makayla's father?)
Next up is Idol "alum" Lauren Daigle with the lead single from her new album, "Look Up Child". Again, professionals making the contestants look bad!
Olivia Ximines is up ninth, and she says that she's more of a stage person so being stuck in her living room wasn't good for her. She promises a dance break. She's doing "Say Yes" by Michelle Williams featuring Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland. ...So Destiny's Child, then? Anyway, Olivia is fire and the only acceptable alternative to Makayla for that slot. 94.
Louis Knight closes it out with an original called "Maybe That". Ryan calls tonight a "history-making show". Uh...yeah. Maybe not the best Idol history, honestly. ...But it finished strong. Louis! I remember being disappointed with him last year, because he showed promise in the auditions and early Hollywood and then he just kind of crapped out. But, uh...looks like I'm going to break the ratings scale in both directions. If Makayla's a 99, then Louis's a 102! Holy crap this ended strong.
For those of you who don't speak mathematics, the season number goes from 19 to 18 and then back to 19, while the episode number constantly fluctuates between 15 and 17. And, yes, this episode's number really would only be two higher if I counted it as a Season 18 episode than if I count it as a Season 19 episode. Also the first sentence is a pun, because I'm not using my degrees in Mathematics or Finance, but also because I used radians instead of degrees.