American Idol: Here are the top 9!

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NEW YORK -- Lionel Richie opened Oscars night on 'American Idol' with the song that earned him a best original song Oscar in 1986.

"Say You, Say Me" was featured in the film "White Nights."



The first live coast-to-coast 'American Idol' of the season comes a week before the Oscars on ABC (Next Sunday, April 26).

The top 12 contestants performed Oscar-nominated songs from the past hoping to land a spot in the top 9 with voting in real-time.

Luke Bryan returned after missing last week due to COVID-19 to join Richie and Katy Perry as judges.

The last spot in the Top 10 will go to a contestant from 2020. Finalists from last season will compete for that spot during a first-ever Comeback episode on Monday night. They did not get to perform on stage last season because of the pandemic.

Now, the performances...

Grace Kinstler kicked things off with a high-energy rendition of "Happy" from "Despicable Me 2." While the judges called Grace's performance "stellar" they also urged her to pick songs that reflect the artist that she wants to become.



The youngest remaining contestant took a turn at practice driving before performing "City of Stars" from "La La Land." Ava August may not be ready to get behind the wheel, but this 15-year-old impressed the judges once again.



Caleb Kennedy did a little fishing with Bobby Bones before he took the stage to hook the audience and get the judges on their feet singing Willie Nelson's "On The Road Again" from the film "Honeysuckle Rose."



"If you keep this up, you'll be on the road for a very long time," Lionel Richie said.

Hunter Metts was a bundle of nerves when the competition started, but his confidence has been getting stronger with every show. Bobby Bones gave him some pointers to come on strong performing "Falling Slowly" from "Once."

Metts gave his best performance in the competition, but he broke down in tears when he forgot some words near the end of the song.

"That was the best performance you have ever given," Katy Perry said. "Hunter, perfection is an illusion. It doesn't matter. It shows you are human and vulnerable."



Madison Watkins was saved by the judges last week. She tried to earn that save with "Run to You" by Whitney Houston in the movie "Bodyguard."

"Way to give America something to think about this week," Luke Bryan said of her performance.



Chayce Beckham said everything in his performance on Sunday was for everyone who's gone through the same kind of struggles as him. He sang "(Everything I Do) I Do It For You" from "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves."

His performance blew away Luke Bryan, who said he thinks Beckham is the front-runner.



Beane earned a judges' save last week and gave a smashing rendition of "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" from "Dirty Dancing."



Alyssa Wray took on a song that she sang in high school - "This Is Me" from "The Greatest Showman."



Bobby Bones encouraged Deshawn Goncalves to have some fun on stage, but he had a challenge singing the Barbara Streisand classic "The Way We Were."



16-year-old Casey Bishop has been rocking the stage of late, but she went a much different direction for Oscars singing "Somewhere Over The Rainbow."

Katy Perry was so impressed, she said she thinks Casey may be the front-runner now.



Cassandra Coleman quit working at the coffee shop back home to pursue her dream. She said despite advancing, she admitted last week's performance was not her best. Cassandra tried to redeem herself with "Writing's On The Wall" from the movie, "Spectre."

"Never forget, you are not what the world thinks of you. You are what you think of you," Katy Perry said.



Willie Spence had the closing number of the night, a powerful version of "Stand Up."

Lionel Richie called the performance "a religious experience."

"Willie, I stand with you. That was so powerful," Katy Perry said.

And Luke Bryan said he learned a lesson about declaring a front-runner before the show was over.



SPOILER ALERT

Here are the top 9:

Grace Kinstler
Casey Bishop
Willie Spence
Alyssa Wray
Caleb Kennedy
Deshawn Goncalves
Chayce Beckham
Casandra Coleman
Hunter Metts

Eliminated:
Madison Watkins
Beane
Ava August

The top 9 are off to Disney World while finalists from last season compete for a spot in the Top 10 show when 'American Idol' returns on May 2 for Disney Night!



You can see every performance on American Idol's YouTube channel and watch the full episodes anytime on Hulu.
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