After a nationwide talent search, “American Idol” has officially found its top 24.
The showstopper round continued Monday night, with the remaining 64 singers giving their all for Lionel Richie, Katy Perry and Luke Bryan, before the judges decided who among them would go on to the top 24 and sing for America’s vote.
Richie watched the performances remotely while quarantining at home after potential exposure to COVID-19.
One of the contestants to learn her fate was Grace Kinstler, a 20-year-old college student whose original “Idol” audition has racked up over 9.3 million views on Facebook.
Kinstler continued to establish herself as a frontrunner throughout Hollywood Week but admitted to Perry and Bryan that she second-guessed her song choice going into the showstopper round.
Though the student had previously chosen songs that showed off her powerful belt and wide range, she opted for a slower, more intimate showstopper song: “Father,” by Demi Lovato.
The song showed a different side of Kinstler’s voice, but it also meant a lot to the contestant, whose father died unexpectedly last year.
“The feeling of when my dad was gone was the most awful feeling I’ve ever felt in my life,” she said. “That’s something that really has made me who I am today, and so I want to share that with the judges, because I feel like it’ll help them know me a little bit more.”
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After the emotional performance, Kinstler said her dad would be proud of her “for taking that risk.”
“I wish he was here so I could call him and tell him what’s going on,” she added, tearing up. “I really miss my dad.”
Though Perry wasn’t sure the song was the best choice for the showstopper round, Kinstler still made the top 24.
“We’ve got real stars, real people that have come to play,” Perry said. “Take all that pain and use it. Let it be the fuel. Get it out of you. Sing it out of you.”
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Kinstler will be joined in the top 24 by fellow audition standout Willie Spence, who came into the showstopper round with a powerful rendition of “I Was Here” by Beyoncé.
“All my life, I’ve always struggled with my weight, but this year has been a tough year. Me being in a hospital really scared me. I thought I wasn’t gonna survive,” said the 21-year-old caretaker. “I know that God has given me a second chance, and that I am here for a purpose.”
The judges agreed.
“We really, really feel like your life is going to change in amazing ways,” said Bryan. “You have the gift from God. The ability just to sing. I’m proud to say you’re in our top 24.”
Other contestants who made the top 24 on Monday’s episode are Casey Bishop, Alanis Sophia, Mary Jo Young, Hunter Metts, Deshawn Goncalves, Colin Jamieson, Ava August, Liahona Olayan, Madison Watkins, Alana, Anilee List and Cecil Ray.
“Idol” continues Sunday (8 EST/PST), with the top 24 performing duets with celebrity singers including Katharine McPhee, Tori Kelly and Josh Groban.
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