Katy Perry drowned out by chants of Iam Tongi fans


“American Idol” delivered a fiery episode Sunday night, which saw the top 12 take on songs from artists in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Mentored by Adam Lambert, the contestants raised the bar by giving stellar performances for judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie. Fans voted during the broadcast, which aired live coast-to-coast, for their favorites, and host Ryan Seacrest revealed who made the top 10 at the end of the episode.

The show included a powerful Bon Jovi tribute, a Grammy-ready performance according to Bryan and a performance so good that Perry could barely be heard over the cheers of adoring fans. Here are the highlights:

Tyson Venegas

Kicking off the show, 17-year-old platinum ticket winner Tyson Venegas showed off some groovy dance moves while singing the Stevie Wonder classic “For Once in My Life.”

Venegas took Lambert’s advice of embodying Wonder’s sweetness throughout the performance.

“That was so comfortable, and for you to step out from the piano and to have all of that comfort, working the stage connecting, it was like you weren’t even trying to make the magic happen,” Bryan marveled. “Great job.”

“You were on fire,” Richie said, admiring the contestant’s choreography.

Warren Peay

Recently engaged to his high school sweetheart, Warren Peay, a 24-year-old appliance repairman, brought his gravelly authenticity to “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals.

He earned a standing ovation from Richie, who exclaimed, “You cannot pick a more classic Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Animals song. That is the best… Your voice resonated perfectly with it.”

Perry commended Peay for shaking up his wardrobe with a new cowboy hat.

“New hat, new you,” she said. “It’s a whole life change. I love your voice. It always has that grit.”

Haven Madison

Who’s that? That’s the question the judges were wondering after Haven Madison gave a stunning, star-powered performance of the Bon Jovi classic “Livin’ on a Prayer.”

The 17-year-old high school student from Tennessee belted out the classic rock hit while strutting across the stage in bedazzled boots.

“Well, you done traded in your Flintstones vitamins for some confidence vitamins!” Perry exclaimed. “I’m threatened… You’re the next big pop star.”

Bryan agreed, calling the performance a “huge, step-out moment” for Madison.

“Everything that you’re putting out right now says ‘massive star’ to me,” he said.

Lucy Love

In honor of Richie, Lucy Love, who was almost eliminated last week before getting narrowly saved by the judges, sang his song “All Night Long (All Night).”

The judges admired Love’s vocal prowess and the impressive runs she displayed throughout the performance.

“I am so glad we brought you back,” Bryan said. “You showed us so much character in your vocal movement that defines your artistry. It is unique to you and what is so important is for you to continue to be unique to you.” 

“The way that you attack things is like no one else,” Perry said. “You bodied that song.”

Richie approved of Love putting her stamp on his song.

“You did such a great job,” he said. “You took my song and made it your song. That’s crazy good.”

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As Love received her feedback, the camera turned to show the reaction of her young daughter crying tears of joy in the audience. A stagehand brought her daughter onto the stage, and Love held and kissed her while walking off the stage.

She also got startled when Seacrest quietly rejoined her on stage after her performance, jumping at the sound of his voice before breathing a sigh of relief.

“That’s the first time I’ve scared anyone in my life at my size!” the 5′ 8” host exclaimed.

Oliver Steele

Oliver Steele gave a smooth, reggae-esque rendition of Ray Charles’ “Georgia on My Mind.”

“You did a fabulous job,” Richie said.

“I can’t get enough of your voice,,” Perry said. 

Bryan called Steele’s voice “timeless,” and added: “You create a mood every time you start singing.”

Colin Stough

Colin Stough, an 18-year-old HVAC technician, rocked out to “Midnight Rider” by The Allman Brothers Bands.

The judges loved his performance and encouraged him to let go more when he’s on stage.

“This song is, like, probably written by someone who’s committed a crime,” Perry said. “I loved it for you… I wanted you to just kind of attack it with that feeling, but you sounded great as always.”

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“You do what the music and your vibe tell you to do,” Bryan said. “Work on really getting comfortable.” 

Richie encouraged Stough to get more “nasty.”

“There’s something about when you just let it go,” he said. “That’s a nasty song, it’s a nasty group, and you’ve just got to get nasty if you want to sing it.”

Marybeth Byrd

Marybeth Byrd, a 22-year-old radio host from Arkansas, put a sweet, country spin on “Dancing Queen” by ABBA.

“All my country kids, they’ve gone Hollywood,” Bryan joked. “I love how you made that you.”

Perry appreciated that Byrd pushed herself with the song choice.

“You’re, like, really glam now,” she added. “You look the part, you sound the part and you landed that song like a real queen.”

Wé Ani

Wé Ani crushed Etta James’ “Something’s Got a Hold on Me,” captivating the crowd with her deep, powerful voice.

“Let me get a grip on the situation!” Richie exclaimed. “That was how you bring nasty to the table!”

Perry was so blown away, she had to take off her earrings.

“She did this. She did not come here to play,” Perry said. “Listen, I’m not gonna say this. There’s lots of friendships. It’s like camp ‘American Idol,’ but you just turned this into a competition.”

Bryan called Ani “mesmerizing.”

“I’ve never heard this room get that loud,” he added.


Another big voice followed Ani in the form of Nutsa, a 26-year-old performer who relishes in big, diva numbers. Nutsa gave it her all on “The Show Must Go On” by Queen, in which she showed off her belt and a softer side of her voice.

Perry praised her crazy good vocals.

“Look, the word ‘nuts’ is in your name,” she said. “You will be Nutsa forever and always.”

Bryan commended Nutsa, who was almost eliminated last week but saved by the judges, for fighting every time she takes the stage.

“You make all eyes in the room go on you, and that’s what it’s all about,” he said. 

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Megan Danielle

Megan Danielle’s performance of “Angel from Montgomery” by Bonnie Raitt was so moving it made Bryan emotional.

“I’m a mess,” Bryan told the 21-year-old server from Georgia, his voice faltering. “I’m so emotional about what you just did because what you just did will stand up in any room around the world, at the Grammys, any award show I’ve ever been to… You are the reason ‘American Idol’ works. That was absolutely incredible.”

“I finally believe in you 100%,” Perry said. “You brought it. You got your wings. There are so many metamorphoses that are going on tonight. I don’t know how America is going to do this, but you’ve got to vote.”

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Zachariah Smith

Zachariah Smith, a 20-year-old grill cook, crushed “Don’t Bring Me Down” by Electric Light Orchestra, bringing the high energy he’s become known for on “Idol.”

“You brought the party to the stage,” Richie said.

Perry complimented his authenticity, saying “You’re just Zachariah, and there’s no one else like you.”

Bryan seemed exhausted after all the stellar performances.

“I need a drink,” he said. “I need to chill out. I feel like I’ve been in a two hour treadmill stair-climbing session. They are killing it.”

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Iam Tongi

Performing without his guitar for the first time on “Idol,” Iam Tongi gave a performance of Sam Cooke’s “Bring It on Home to Me” that was so iconic, Perry could barely be heard over the roar of the crowd chanting “Iam.”

“I can’t even hear myself talk. This is what it’s like when Iam gets on the stage. This is just magic,” Perry told the 18-year-old from Hawaii. “You are the one.”

“There is no way people can’t love you,” Bryan added.

“There’s nothing we can say,” Richie noted. “The crowd is saying it all for us.”

Who went home?

With over 22 million votes counted, Seacrest returned to the stage after the final commercial break to reveal that Love and Nutsa did not make the top 10.

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