A heartbreaking goodbye on American Idol

American Idol Season 19’s performance-packed, two-night Showstoppers round began Sunday, as Hollywood Week’s 64 remaining hopefuls sang with the shows in-house live band for the very first time and then faced their Final Judgment. Forty candidates needed to be culled before next week’s top 24 round, and one of today’s very first Showstoppers cuts was certainly the deepest, when the program stopped for singer-songwriter Murphy. And it so took place to be his 28th birthday.

Murphy, a bookish old soul with a traumatic backstory that involved being born half-blind, losing both his parents at a young age, and busking around the country for 3 years in an effort to find himself, was a compelling figure the very first time he humbly mixed into the audition room a few weeks earlier, especially when he followed up his Bill Wither’s cover with his Croce-esque initial folk tune, “The Painted Man”. Why are the judges, especially Katy Perry, constantly so on-the-fence about Murphy, when he was clearly one of the most special artists of the season? As he prepared to ideally win over the questioning panel with another self-penned tune about self-love, “Am I Still Mine?”, well-meaning coach Bobby Bones encouraged him to make better eye contact with his audience.

Awkward. Bobby probably felt pretty embarrassed when Murphy then mentioned not only his partial blindness, but the particular ocular issues that he had been dealing with in Hollywood. His vision is substantially even worse than the average individual.

Murphy’s ideal eye is gone and his left eye is going, due to a type of degeneration.

He is expected to lose sight at maybe mid-thirties. And this American Idol experience, while fantastic, is trying out that part of his life. The stage lights, are so bright, so it is a lot to take in. In that moment, he understands that it is harmful to his eyes, hurting them, and he can feel the pain.

Still, Murphy soldiered on this Sunday underneath the Dolby Theatre’s potentially actually blinding lights and made an obvious effort to get in touch with the judges. Later on, he informed them that his Showstoppers performance was his “birthday wish”. Getting to be on that stage, it felt like he was at home, getting to sing a tune that made him seem like he might share something beautiful with someone.

Murphy responds to his problem on American Idol. He was plainly dissatisfied, but he remained his stoic self. He desired to hear a yes, but he also wished to hear a no if it was honest. Appeared that only Lionel Richie, who was Zooming in from home due to a potential COVID direct exposure, appreciated Murphy’s performance (albeit remotely).

Luke Bryan and Katy were the ones to deliver Murphy’s rejection personally.

At first Katy applauded Murphy’s performance, and he wore an enthusiastic, mile-wide smile. But as Katy then advised Murphy to get more experience, the radiance drained from his face, and he clutched protectively at his chest, almost as if he had been wounded. His birthday celebration was over.

This was the show’s normal bait-and-switch technique, when candidates will receive great news, it is constantly preceded by an extreme critique; when it is bad news, they are set up for a fall with phony appreciation, and it was, frankly, uncool. Final Judgment, with all of its irritatingly edited fakeouts, baits, and changes, will continue apace Monday. You would think after Funke Lagoke fainted during last week’s Duets Challenge when she believed Lionel was about to provide bad news (as it turned out, he was about to tell Funke she had made it to the next round), that the judges would be more direct and would give up misleading contestants.

A stressed however relieved Graham let Luke know the fakeout had actually worked. So, every performance Sunday appeared to follow the very same format. A candidate would deliver what was a wonderful (or at least very strong) efficiency, and the judges would respond with hoots, hollers, and even the periodic standing ovation.

Then, the moment that entrant was out of earshot.

The judges, especially “difficult mama” Katy, who appears to be angling for the Simon Cowell role this season, would inexplicably rip the contestant to shreds. Next, the entrant would take what Idol experts call the “Green Mile” walk to the Final Judgment room, where Katy, Luke, and a virtual Lionel would continue to inform the participant whatever he or she had actually supposedly done wrong. The judges’ most common complaints, just to make things more complicated and inconsistent, were that the candidates had either tried too hard and done excessive, or that they had kept back.

And after that, after squandering 10 minutes telling these singers that they were not prepared for prime time, the judges would do a 180 and notify a number of them that they had made the leading 24 anyway. It was honestly tiring, and more that a bit predictable by the time they had gotten to the 3rd semifinalist to get great news. There were a couple of candidates, besides Murphy, who in fact were eliminated Sunday, consisting of crooner Anthony Guzman (whose Maroon 5 cover was cornier and shtickier than that time he showed up in a Viking costume), screentime-deprived balladeer Amanda Mena, and old-school country warbler Alex Miller.

Alex was a star who might go far (Luke explained him as “tough not to enjoy”), but he was constantly so period-piece, so Hee Haw. Alex handled his rejection as classily as Murphy had, and Luke made good on his earlier promise and welcomed Alex to perform at the Grand Ole Opry. Graham DeFranco (Beautiful War) will not go far in the competitors, due to his absence of self-belief and poor Hollywood week showing thus far.

But this Kings of Leon cover, dedicated to his daddy.

Who was simply detected with stomach cancer and for that reason could not sign up with Graham in Hollywood, was a large enhancement. Graham could still get in the top 24 shuffle, however we will see. Casey Bishop (She Talks to Angels) was a bit frenzied onstage, apparently not sure of what to do with her nervous-energy-racked body.

She certainly knew what to do with her voice. The 15-year-old powerhouse resembled a little bit of teen rocker Courtney Hadwin from America’s Got Talent. Katy aggravatingly fretted aloud that Bishop is going to take on Alanis, as if there is not space for 2 (in fact rather dissimilar) rocker chicks this season.

For remarkable impact, Casey and Alanis were ushered into the Final Judgment room together to jointly get their decisions, however when this cliffhanger is resolved on Monday’s episode, it will be two yeses (after the requisite fakeout from the judges, naturally). Doing an Imagine Dragon’s number was a danger, but Jason Warrior (Believer) made it his own, jazzing it up and offering it some gospel flair while maintaining the tunes stadium-rock edge. This Warrior did what he required to do, and he will continue to battle the great battle next week.

After fighting with her self-confidence all season.

This inexperienced however clearly naturally gifted indie belter delivered her finest efficiency yet. For the first time, Cassandra Coleman (Running With the Wolves) seemed really present, barefoot, and lost in the minute in the very best possible method. When she sings alone with no one watching, she was trying to tap into the sense of pleasure and freedom she feels.

And while this was not a best efficiency, it was a completely genuine one. She is too much of a Florence Welch clone, and she will not be able to keep it together as the pressure installs, but she could be a Season 19 dark horse. And there may be a showmance blossoming between her and Wyatt, so enjoy this area.

Alyssa Ray (I’m Here) set the bar high for this episode. And Idol voters will disagree with Katy. Alanis Sophia (Uninvited) appeared in a lovely Stephanie Seymour in “November Rain” mullet gown, appearing like she was currently on the leading 24 program, and she with confidence delivered a strong performance of a power ballad by her name.

Despite her being called after Ms. Morissette.

This specific Alanis is pegged as a pop lady, based upon her sleek very first audition of a Demi Lovato song. This was an enjoyable surprise. It was unexpected this lovely, unpopular Mr. Beane Rogers type (What’s Going On) to handle such a complicated timeless tune, or to exhibit so much boodle while doing it, with a shimmering smile that matched his diamond-dust eye shadow.

In general, Beane simply has a specific twinkle to him. And he will continue to dazzle the audiences and judges. Katy drizzled all over Wyatt Pike’s (Blame It on Me) George Ezra-soundtracked parade too. He has a certain trigger, and he is definitely in his own Season 19 lane, specifically now that quirky Murphy is gone.

Andrea Valles’ (Blinding Lights) Weeknd cover did not air completely, and most likely for good reason. The bit shown was underwhelming, and the inexpedient tune option was not a sufficient vocal showcase. She looked like an early-aughts pop star, however her phase presence will suffice to get her all the way to the live shows.

Katy bizarrely complained that Caleb Kennedy (When You Leave Tonight) “is not prepared”.

And that doing his own tune was a bad concept. Hannah Everhart (Wrecking Ball) looked less like Katy Perry and more like Axl Rose this week, with her bandanna, denim-on-denim, and flat-ironed auburn hair extensions. And her badass, nearly Axl-like confidence alone was virtually adequate to make her a top 24 spot.

Chayce Beckham (You Should Probably Leave) requires to deal with his phase existence. He has what is understood in business as a very “recordable” voice. Nevertheless, Katy believed Chayce’s vocals sounded shot and that his efficiency was too “direct” and “not his finest moment”.

Luke explained this as “nearly spoken rasp” which was not a compliment. However Chayce got “another play” anyway.

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