In honor of Mother’s Day, the American Idol Top 5 finalists sang songs dedicated to moms, in addition to performing from the catalogue of American Idol alum and seven-time Grammy-winner Carrie Underwood.
At the end of the show, the contestants learned that Caleb Lee Hutchinson, Gabby Barrett and Maddie Poppe were moving on to the finals.
Michael J. Woodard and Cade Foehner were sent home.
The Top 5 were surprised with a trip to Nashville and the opportunity to learn from Underwood while she served as superstar guest mentor for the week. Underwood also performed her current single, “Cry Pretty.”
The show opened with the top 5 contestants joining Carrie for her hit “See You Again.”
Here are Sunday’s Highlights:
Michael J. Woodard kicked things off with his version of Underwood’s “Flat on the Floor.” During rehearsals, Carrie explained to him that the song was “all about attitude from the beginning,” and predicting the performance would turn him into “Michael J. ‘Beast-mode’.” Afterwards, Lionel thought Michael succeeded in bringing the sass “on a grand scale.”
Woodard’s second performance of the night was Yolanda Adams’ “Still I Rise,” dedicated to his mom. Katy, who was moved to tears by the song and Michael’s pre-performance clip with his mother, joked, “I thought I had my emotions removed,” but it was “so beautiful what I saw between you and your mother.”
Gabby Barrett tackled Underwood’s “Last Name.” Carrie, addressing the camera during rehearsals, marveled at Barrett’s composure and maturity. Following the performance, Luke called Barrett, “Carrie Underwood reincarnated.” Richie agreed Gabby was “fabulous.”
Later, Barrett returned with her Mother’s Day song, “I Have Nothing,” by Whitney Houston. Lionel praised Gabby for pulling off the impossible by “Gabby-izing” a Whitney Houston song and succeeding.
Cade Foehner put his spin on Underwood’s “Undo It.” Carrie, noting that Cade had a tendency to be stuck on “level 10,” explained that a song needs “a beginning, a middle and an end.” The judges later echoed Carrie’s sentiments, with Katy telling Cade that when he loses the dynamics, his performance becomes “a little shaky sometimes.”
Cade redeemed himself with his Mother’s Day dedication, “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. Katy applauded Cade for taking their earlier advice.
Caleb Lee Hutchinson tackled Carrie’s 2007 hit “So Small.” Her advice for Caleb was to simply “stay out of your own way,” explaining that the 19-year-old had a tendency to become “overwhelmed” with what’s happening around him. Afterwards, Perry praised Hutchinson for his authenticity, but warned that he was being outperformed by the competition and needed to “flap those wings a little bit harder when it comes to working the crowd.”
For his Mother’s Day song, Caleb sang Jamey Johnson’s “Stars in Alabama.” Declared Richie afterwards, “In this business, if I can close my eyes and know it’s you in two notes, that’s stardom.” Perry joked that when Caleb turned 21, she wanted to “have a beer” with him.”
Maddie Poppe started off with Underwood’s version of the Randy Travis hit “I Told You So.” Carrie’s advice for Poppe was not to overthink the songs, because she risked losing the emotion. Following Maddie’s live performance, Luke urged the singer not to worry about the notes, assuring her, “you tell the story perfectly.”
Later, Maddie delivered an emotional performance of “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys for her Mother’s Day tune. Katy said Poppe “did the song justice.” Luke added that watching Maddie choke up at the end of the song was “endearing.”
American Idol returns Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.