‘American Idol’ Recap: Judges Decide Top 24 in Showstopper Round, Final Judgment

Jill O'Rourke
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American Idol Season 20 returned on Monday night for the Showstopper round, as the judges chose the Top 24 singers in the Final Judgment. Contestants who made it through Hollywood Week got to perform solo for a live audience.

‘American Idol’ Judges Challenge Contestants to Sing-Offs in Showstopper Round Before Top 24 Decision

The judges gave their critique to many of the contestants one-on-one. However, some of the singers were paired up for the Final Judgment. In two cases, the judges actually asked them to perform an impromptu sing-off to decide who should go through.

The first sing-off was between Ava Maybee and Yoli Mayor. Ava chose to sing an a cappella rendition of “Roxanne” by the Police, while Yoli sang “Honey” by Kehlani. The judges chose to send Ava though, meaning Yoli was eliminated. She teared up as she talked about what a “beautiful group of humans” she competed against.

At the end of the night, the judges challenged country singers Dan Marshall and Dakota Hayden to a “good old-fashioned country boy sing-off,” in Luke Bryan’s words. Dakota chose to sing “Heaven” by Kane Brown on the guitar. Dan sang “What Are You Listening To” by Chris Stapleton. The judges felt that Dan was more experienced, so he was the one to make it into the Top 24.


Nicolina Goes to the Top 24 Without Even Sitting Down

One of the strongest performances of the Showstopper round came from Nicolina, who sang “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele. The judges loved it so much that Katy Perry said Nicolina didn’t even have to sit down for the Final Judgment. The judge shook her hand and told her, “Welcome to the Top 24.”

This was a much more straightforward response than the judges gave most of the contestants. As we’ve come to expect from this round, the judges delighted themselves by faking out almost every single singer who made it through to the Top 24. They used awkward phrasing and and a serious tone before delivering the good news.

One contestant who had to deal with a fakeout was country singer Noah Thompson, who surprised everyone by choosing to sing Rihanna’s “Stay.” He put his own gravely spin on the song and earned a standing ovation from the judges. Bryan told him it was “the end of the road,” before adding, “for so many people here tonight other than yourself.”

Kelsie Dolin Goes Home, Shares How the Show Changed Her

One of the most inspiring journeys to come out of Season 20 belonged to singer Kelsie Dolin, who struggled with confidence but made it through Hollywood Week after pulling out some great performances.

Unfortunately, the Showstopper round marked the end of the road for Kelsie. However, she shared that the show changed her life. Before, she was worried about what people thought of her when she performed, but now she says she “doesn’t give two craps.”

Kelsie’s duet partner, Miss America winner Betty Maxwell, made it through. They weren’t the only partnership to be split up during the Showstoppers. Platinum Ticket holder Kenedi Anderson made it through with her cover of “Talking to the Moon” by Bruno Mars, but her partner Jordan Chase was eliminated after his performance of “Cold” by Chris Stapleton.

At the end of the episode, the judges surprised the Top 24 singers with the news that they’ll be singing at Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii for the next round, with celebrity mentors Bebe Rexha and Jimmie Allen. We’ll see those performances next week.

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