The remaining 12 contestants on Season 21 of “American Idol” had just two hours to generate enough support from viewers to make it into the Top 10, which was announced at the end of the live show airing on April 30, 2023. Rather than voting for contestants in the hours after the show aired, viewers had to cast their votes during the episode, which aired live on ABC across the United States. Contestants performed songs made famous by Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame inductees in honor of judge Lionel Richie’s recent induction.
Over the last several days, in addition to being mentored by “Idol” alum Adam Lambert and attending judge Luke Bryan’s headlining performance at the Stagecoach country music festival, contestants have repeatedly urged their social media fans to start voting for them at the start of the show, even if their performances haven’t aired yet. Voting began at 8 p.m. Eastern and closed after the final commercial break so that final counts could be tabulated and host Ryan Seacrest could announce the Top 10 at the end of the show.
Spoiler Alert: If you do not want to know what happened on the Top 10 episode, including results and show details, do not scroll past this point.
‘American Idol’ Top 10 Performances & Results
Below you’ll find details on each performance by the Top 12 contestants, which Richie recently called “the most talented class we have ever had,” as well as the judges’ reactions. Scroll down to find out which ones received enough votes to advance to the Top 10.
Tyson Venegas, 17, from Vancouver, British Columbia: Lambert suggested that Venegas sing a song by Stevie Wonder — an idea the teen loved, calling Wonder one of his own idols. He wound up choosing “For Once in My Life,” performing in a lavender-colored suit with a heart-covered shirt as he danced across the stage, which drew a standing ovation from all three judges.
Bryan exclaimed “that was so comfortable” and celebrated Venegas for stepping away from the piano to show another side of himself. Richie praised his choreography and told him he was “on fire.” Judge Katy Perry celebrated his stage presence, too, and that she loved how authentic he was on stage, comparing him to fellow contestant Zachariah Smith.
Warren Peay, 24, from Bamberg, South Carolina: Peay revealed to Lambert that he recently got engaged and didn’t wear his cowboy hat onstage because it was the first show she was able to attend — and she wore it in the audience. Peay came into his session with Lambert knowing that he wanted to sing “House Of The Rising Sun” by The Animals, and Lambert encouraged him to express the pain of the song in his delivery.
Peay performed sitting on a stool with his guitar in hand — and a new hat on his head since his fiance was back in the audience, wearing his cowboy hat again. Richie praised his song choice, but that he thought he started a little too low. Perry compared his voice to a “bottle of grit” and Bryan did, too, but agreed that he may have started the song out too low.
Haven Madison, 17, from Clarksville, Tennessee: Saying she “grew up on” Bon Jovi because her dad is a big fan, Madison gave their 80s classic “Livin’ On A Prayer” her own breathy twist, with her dad joining her for both her mentor session with Lambert, who loved her song choice. Lambert advised her to rock out by the end of the song to show another side of her voice, which she did.
Perry told Madison she’s turned her “Flintstones vitamins in for confidence vitamins,” clearly blown away by the teen’s stage presence. Bryan agreed, saying her stage presence was that of a star and that it was one of those moments when he remembers how much he loves this job. When Seacrest walked out on stage and revealed that Jon Bon Jovi had just watched her performance, Madison looked stunned and the cameras showed her dad in the audience, covering his mouth in shock.
Lucy Love, 28, from Holly Grove, Arkansas: Grateful that the judges saved her last week and for Richie’s ongoing support of her since her first audition, Love chose to sing one of his classics, “All Night Long,” in tribute to him. After her first rendition during her mentorship session with Lambert, he encouraged her to loosen up and have more fun with the song, telling her to “party and fiesta” because when she smiles, it sounds better, telling her she sounded “gorgeous.”
Love moved across the stage in a hot pink outfit, harmonizing with her backup singers as Richie danced behind the judges’ table and her kids watching from the audience. Perry was so thrilled to see them, seeing her as both “the mom and the icon.” Love’s little girl — who was crying for her mom — was brought on stage and joyfully embraced her.
“I am so glad we brought you back,” Bryan told Love, saying that her artistry is “so unique” and Richie told her that it was “crazy good” because she turned his song into her own.
Oliver Steele, 25, from Mount Juliet, Tennessee: Steele chose to sing Ray Charles’ “Georgia On My Mind” because he’s played it for years during his gigs. And while Lambert said it’s always comfortable to sing a song he’s played many times, he found himself feeling bored by the end of Steele’s rendition. So they discussed possibilities for adding more life to the tune, including playing an electric guitar with distortion.
In the end, Steele opted for playing the acoustic guitar with a member of the band on electric guitar, and then gave the song a bit of a reggae feel midway through and slowed it down at the end with some vocal riffs. Richie told him he did a “fabulous job” but that he thought his vocal runs might never end. Perry told him she loves his voice so much that she wished he had let loose a bit more, a la Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Bryan said he agreed but was moved by the song since he’s a Georgia native.
Colin Stough, 18, from Amory, Mississippi: Stough had such a huge moment singing “Dancing On My Own” last week, with Perry telling him his performance was going to change his life, that he walked into his mentorship session with Lambert feeling nervous about which song to choose next. Though he went in thinking he’d play something by either Jimi Hendrix or The Band, Lambert’s advice to “keep everyone guessing” and to trust his gut led him to choose “Midnight Rider” by The Allman Brothers Band.
Perry said Stough sounded great but that she’d wished he’d given it a bit more grit. Bryan agreed, encouraging him to move around, and to give the song “more body.” Richie said there was no “nice way to put it,” but that Stough needed to get “nasty” to sing that song.
Marybeth Byrd, 22, from Armorel, Arkansas: Having grown up listening to “Mama Mia” with her mom, Byrd went into her session with Lambert knowing she wanted to perform ABBA’s “Dancing Queen,” but that she wasn’t sure if she had the confidence to pull it off. Lambert told the country singer she has everything she needed to pull it off, move across the stage naturally and make it her own.
Dressed in a sequined jumpsuit, Byrd stayed in the same spot on stage but impressed the judges. Bryan told her he loved that “you made that you” and marveled at how all of his “country kids” have “gone Hollywood.” Perry congratulated her for pushing herself to evolve, telling her “you landed that song like a real queen.”
Wé Ani, 24, from Harlem, New York: Starstruck by Lambert, Ani said she was torn between singing a classic from Tina Turner or Etta James because they’re both from “really strong black women.” After hearing both choices, Lambert said James’ “Something’s Got a Hold On Me” was more interesting but encouraged her to “finish the thought” on some of her vocal runs.
Ani delivered a rock version of the tune that brought the judges — and her mom in the audience — to their feet. Richie said he “had to get a grip on this situation,” calling it a “breakout performance.” Perry agreed, saying that “she did not come here to play” and that despite all the friendships being forged among the contestants, Ani just “turned this into a competition.”
Nutsa Buzaladze, 26, from Tbilisi, Georgia: Saying that Adam Lambert is her favorite artist, Nutsa told him she planned to sing Queen’s “The Show Must Go On,” which he joked he’s sung a couple of times — given that he frequently tours with Queen as its lead singer. But Lambert suggested that rather than perform a “diva” song, he’d rather see her do an understated, softer tune. The Georgian native — who was saved by the judges after last week’s eliminations — said she still planned to sing it rather than learn a new song, but that she’d take Lambert’s notes and deliver a softer version.
Dressed in head-to-toe red, Nutsa started the song softly but ended it belting out the lyrics with flames on the screens behind her. Perry told her she can’t be changed, and Bryan noted that she has a “fight” in her that makes her want to perform her best every time she takes the stage. Richie, too, said that Nutsa has already “made it” in show business.
Megan Danielle, 21, from Douglasville, Georgia: Telling Danielle that her “voice is bananas,” Lambert loved her song choice — “Angel from Montgomery” by Bonnie Raitt — but wondered aloud if doing it at the same tempo as Raitt, slower and more emotional, would have a greater payoff.
“Take it to church,” he advised. “I think it’s gonna give you more of a moment.”
Lambert said it’s people like Danielle that make “Idol” what it is, and the judges agreed after her gritty performance, joining hands in celebration afterwards. Bryan grasped his heart before talking, saying he was “so emotional” about her performance, saying Lambert’s advice was perfect and that her rendition was “absolutely incredible.” Richie said “ditto” to everything he said, and Perry said she now believes in her “100%.” Danielle said she felt honored by their praise.
Zachariah Smith, 20, from Amory, Mississippi: Saying he was starstruck because he remembers voting with his mom for Lambert during Season 8 of “Idol,” Lambert was equally effusive about Smith’s rendition of Electric Light Orchestra (ELO)’s “Don’t Bring Me Down,” calling him a “special talent.” When Smith said he worries he sometimes looks too serious during his performances, Lambert encouraged him to have fun and smile as he sings — which he did, carrying his mic stand as he moved across the stage.
Richie said that, as Lambert suggested, Smith “brought the party to the stage.” Perry added that Lambert has given “incredible feedback” to everyone and, in addition, that Smith shouldn’t feel concerned about how he looks or the expressions he makes as long as they’re authentic. Bryan said he needed a drink because he’s been so blown away by the contestants’ performances, including Smith’s.
Iam Tongi, 18, from Kahuku, Hawaii: Tongi admitted to Lambert that he’s had a hard time seeing friends get eliminated from the show, but Lambert said when he was in his shoes, he kept his “eye on the prize.” He guided Tongi through how to perform without the guitar from his dad he’s always held during his performances by leaning on the mic stand for support and finding a distant object in the audience to focus on.
Tongi performed “Bring It On Home to Me” by Sam Cooke and received a huge response from the crowd, which kept shouting his name. Perry told him it was “magic,” though much of what she said was drowned out by the crowd. Bryan said everyone loves Tongi and that it was brave of him to perform without his guitar for the first time. Richie said there’s nothing the judges can say that the crowd hadn’t already expressed. Seacrest then announced that the final votes would be submitted and tabulated during the commercial break.
TOP 10 RESULTS
After the break, Seacrest reported that 22 million votes came in during the two-hour show and then announced those who have advanced to the Top 10. The contestants who made it in are as follows, in the order they were announced.
- Warren Peay
- Wé Ani
- Iam Tongi
- Megan Danielle
- Zachariah Smith
- Haven Madison
- Colin Stough
- Oliver Steele
- Tyson Venegas
- Marybeth Byrd
That means Lucy Love and Nutsa are going home. They are the two contestants who had not received enough votes to get into the Top 12, but the judges saved them both last week, which means viewers did not change their minds about them from one week to the next.
Tomorrow night, May 1, the contestants will perform again during another live show and the Top 10, they’ve reported on their social media feeds, will become the Top 7. However, there are now rumors that the judges will save one additional contestant, given that “Idol” mentioned an “epic surprise” and that it would actually reveal a “Top 8” in one of its promos.
How to Vote for Your Favorite ‘American Idol’ Contestants During Live Shows
Voting is now closed for the Top 10. But when the show returns on May 1, each viewer will again be allowed to cast up to 30 votes per contestant — 10 votes online at AmericanIdol.com/vote, 10 votes via the “American Idol” app, and 10 votes submitted by texting the contestant’s assigned number to “21523.”
Per ABC rules, viewers who vote online and on the app must be at least 16 years old and be located in the United States, Puerto Rico, or the Virgin Islands. Voting begins when the show does, at 8 p.m. Eastern time.
Over the weekend, each of the Top 12 contestants has been assigned a new number for viewers to use when they cast their votes. Here is a list of their new numbers, alphabetized by the contestants’ first names. It is likely that the Top 10 contestants will keep their numbers for the May 1 show.
- Colin Stough — 6
- Haven Madison — 3
- Iam Tongi — 12
- Lucy Love — 4
- Marybeth Byrd — 7
- Megan Danielle — 10
- Nutsa Buzaladze — 9
- Oliver Steele — 5
- Tyson Venegas — 1
- Warren Peay — 2
- Wé Ani — 8
- Zachariah Smith — 11