Who better to mentor the American Idol Top 14 than Gabby Barrett? The alum placed third in 2018 and parlayed her success from the singing competition into superstardom. Today the 22-year-old is one of country music’s hottest emerging artists.
The multi-platinum star lent her knowledge to the hopefuls before they performed for judges Lionel Richie, Luke Bryan, and Katy Perry. The contestants were tasked to select breakout songs of some of the biggest names in music. Ultimately, three leave the show after America’s coast-to-coast vote to fill out the Top 11. Which ones of the “Good Ones” made it through? Find out below.
“Jay with the nice teeth” was Gabby’s first words upon their introduction. The platinum ticket holder talked about his song choice of “Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars in honor of mom. Her tip was to lower the register the bit as a little tweak can make all the difference. Lionel thought the song showed who he was as an artist. Katy agreed and that he landed in a cool spot with the performance. Luke echoed what Lionel told Jay about finding himself as an artist.
Being the only female country artist, HunterGirl felt a connection with Gabby. She did “Baby Girl” by Sugarland to thank the parents for what they did for her. Gabby encouraged the 23-year-old to sing what she was feeling. Katy said she has a heart of gold that people want to see win. Luke said Gabby is staring at her competition. Lionel told her she looked and sounded like money. Host Ryan Seacrest revealed her original song “Heartbreak Down” is rising up the charts. Sign of things to come?
Christina told Gabby he was singing “Take Me to Church” by Hozier because of how much it resonates. Gabby helped him focus on the lyric and melody at the start. Luke loved how he stepped away from the microphone and took it to the next level. Lionel said he mastered the dynamics and that he was on fire. Katy called it spirited and evangelical.
Dan felt a little nervous during his one-on-one with Gabby. They added a spot they could incorporate the audience to get out of his head. The country crooner then took the stage for “She’s Got It All” by Kenny Chesney. Lionel liked how he takes ownership of the song. Katy thought as a great song choice but felt there were a couple of notes that could have been more. Luke agreed, adding it looked like he freaked out in the beginning. But he also thought it was a good song pick. It wasn’t enough to vote him to the next round.
Leah checked in with Gabby as she was torn between “Mad World” and “Happy Together.” She went with Gabby’s choice after listening to both in the latter by The Turtles. Katy liked seeing Leah slaying guitar and feeling the confidence. Katy wondered, “Are we at Coachella?” Luke got emotional reflecting on watching Leah break out of her shell. Lionel was proud to watch her transformation.
Gabby talked to Fritz about meeting Phillip Phillips, comparing her experience to fangirling over Carrie Underwood when she mentored. He chose “Let It Go” by James Bay as a goodbye to the older version of himself. The two worked to make it sound more like Fritz. Luke felt like he was at his show and not Idol. Lionel said he pulled him in with the rest of the audience. Katy is proud of how far he has come.
Tristen chose “Whataya Want from Me” by Idol alum (and, in my opinion, doppelganger) Adam Lambert. Gabby thought ti was risky, especially without the guitar. She wanted to make sure the notes make, complete with a strong ending. Lionel loved that he added some acting to his stage presence. Katy liked he was bringing out something new and weird and that he keeps evolving. Luke said he came to play despite some hiccups with the lyrics. Adam recorded a message to let Tristen know he was a star. A teary Tristen’s night was made.
Lady K chose “I Believe” by Idol winner Fantasia, knowing it is a big performance and she would be stepping into the shoes of her idol. Gabby can sense the 25-year-old worrying about doing the strong justice. She helped Lady K think more about stage presence by exuding confidence in body language. Katy is a believer, saying what she witnessed was elegance personified. Luke enjoyed watching her blossom. Lionel said she went from homeless to center stage, calling it her best performance.
She chose “ocean eyes” by Billie Eilish, which Gabby thought was right in her wheelhouse. The mentor tried to find moments for the 19-year-old Florida girl to shine. Luke said, “That’s why we saved you.” Lionel is a fan of how she got up from the piano halfway through and called it a wonderful performance. Katy also appreciated the falsettos and hoped America doesn’t make the same mistake of not voting for her. Her plea wasn’t enough sadly.
Ava chose “Sign Of the Times” by Harry Styles because of how much of a fan she is of him. Gabby liked the arrangement but wanted her to make sure the body language matches the song. Lionel said she established right away there is no maybe about Ava. Katy agreed with Lionel that the back half was particularly strong. She said people were talking about her. Luke liked seeing the big moments. In a shocker, she did not make the Top 11.
Gabby found Mike’s body language was a little tight and encouraged him to move around. She said what will help him by keeping his eyes open more. The budding country artist sang “Hurricane” by Luke Combs. Katy felt an authentic country soul. Luke said the performance showed he was a fighter. Lionel loved the storytelling in his voice.
The teen was excited to meet Gabby as she went through the Idol process at around the same young age. She chose Olivia Rodrigo’s breakout hit “drivers license” by Olivia Rodrigo. Gabby taught her how to show emotions through her arms. Luke called the 16-year-old’s performance timeless. Lionel could hear an old subtle cry in her voice that creates a believability. Katy thought the cry is her unique special sauce.
Noah and Gabby bonded over having babies, yet still chasing dreams. She wasn’t feeling a connection with the initial song choice “Nobody to Blame” by Chris Stapleton The construction worker changed course and came upon “Stand by Me” by Ben. E King. One he used to sing on the job site. Lionel could sense he felt that song. Katy liked hearing authentic Kentucky country kid and that her housekeeper was voting for him. Luke said his voice was real and unique to him.
She chose the classic “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley in honor of her nana who is enduring chemotherapy. Gabby wanted to make sure she built up that power in the vocal throughout. The 18-year-old closed the show on a definite high note. Katy said it was like watching an angel singing. Luke appreciates how she stays in control of her voice each week. Lionel found she is gifted beyond her years.
American Idol, Sundays and Mondays, 8/7c, ABC