The first live “American Idol”

; in 2021 proved eventful when Paula Abdul returned and front runner Wyatt Pike dropped out.


“American Idol” contestants knock on faith, trust and a little pixie dust to get through to the next round.

After taking a break last week for the Oscars, the ABC reality singing competition returned on Sunday with a live show that saw the top ten perform songs from Disney movies.

As usual, singers received feedback from judges Luke Bryan, Lionel Richie and Katy Perry, who celebrated the night’s theme by dressing as Tinker Bell from “Peter Pan.”

In a virtual Q&A after the show, Perry opened up about the inspiration behind her costume, revealing that she borrowed her prostheses from partner Orlando Bloom, who played Legolas in “The Lord of the Rings.”

“I just love that she has a bit of sass and a sense of humor,” the singer said of Tinker Bell. “She’s always a little fragile, and then I reason with that character. I always want to be playful and believe in magic and find the best in every single person.”

At the top of the episode, Ryan Seacrest revealed which former contestant earned enough votes after the comeback show to return to the competition and round out the top ten. That singer was Arthur Gunn, who came in second last year. (Because it’s bringing a new second place back quite fair to the current participants … right?)

Fans voted during the show, which broadcast live coast to coast, for whom they wanted to see in the top seven.

Here is what went down, including which three were eliminated:

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Caleb Kennedy

Caleb Kennedy stuck to his rugged, rural wheelhouse and sang “Real Gone” from “Cars.”

Perry told the 16-year-old high school student that she channeled her inner Tinker Bell that “this thing is really Peter Pan-ing for you.”

“You have fire on stage,” she continued. “Every time you engage us, we lean in.”

Richie said Kennedy’s energy is “what execution is all about.”

“It’s going to radiate out of the stage, and it was a brilliant performance,” he added.

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Willie Spence

Willie Spence, 21, used his powerful voice for an intriguing performance of “The Circle of Life” from “The Lion King.”

“You have that voice. You can sing the phone book and literally make it yours,” Richie told him. “God bless you, man. God bless you.”

Perry offered more Tinker-Bell-inspired support: “Willie, you’re not a lost boy anymore. You’re a good idol.”

Deshawn Goncalves

Deshawn Goncalves, 20, delivered a jazzy rendition of “When You Wish Upon a Star” from “Pinocchio,” where he started the song playing the piano and later got up to blow up some smooth movements.

All three judges complimented students for being more comfortable on stage.

“It’s show business,” Richie said. “You did it.”

Bryan said he “laughed so big” and saw Goncalves come out of his shell.

“You are not the same person who showed up for auditions,” he remarked.

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Casey Bishop

She shows once again that she is not a typical teenybopper, high school student Casey Bishop, 16, stunned by a haunted rendition of “When She Loved Me” from “Toy Story 2.”

The judges complimented the teen, who usually performs rock songs, on her range.

“Your vocals lead you to infinity and beyond,” Perry said. “I love that you can do almost anything. In fact, you can do anything. You just have to believe.”

Bryan added that he definitely believes in bishop. “I just think you’re a superstar,” he said.

Chayce Beckham

Chayce Beckham, who revealed the post-show that he would sing “On My Way” from “Brother Bear” before switching at the last minute, took the soft “Baby Mine” from “Dumbo” and gave it some edge with its cruel voice.

“This achievement is just so you,” Bryan told the 24-year-old heavy machinery operator. “It was really amazing in the ears.”

Perry also praised Beckham for transforming the lullaby.

“Listen, I think all you need is a little faith, confidence and pixie dust,” she added, throwing some glitter in the air.

Alyssa Wray

Rocking on a sparkling ball gown, college student Alyssa Wray dazzled with a magical performance of “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes” from “Cinderella.”

Richie and Bryan said they were happy to see Wray save his belt and vocal acrobatics for the end of the song, while Perry called the singer “elegant and elevated.”

“You are a permanent princess,” she added. “You’ll never be back to a pumpkin.”

Arthur Gunn

The purpose of reminding “Idol” fans of his vocal prowess was to sing former second-place Arthur Gunn “Remember Me” from “Coco.”

“It was one of the best performances I’ve ever seen,” Perry told the 23-year-old musician. “It was amazing, and I always love when you do your own thing, because that’s who you are.”

Bryan complimented Gunn on his authenticity, while Richie said the musician owns his sound.

“It’s the biggest part of being a stylist when you can take any song and make it yours,” he added.

Cassandra Coleman

Cassandra Coleman has been open in the show about her battle with nerves. But the cafe’s manager channeled his inner hero and belted out “I Can Go The Distance” from “Hercules.”

Bryan said Coleman delivered her “most solid vocals from top to bottom” and was the “most comfortable we’ve seen you.”

“Your confidence has definitely gone from zero to completely, and any other doubts you have, you just leave them in the fairy dust,” Perry added, continuing to hold his feedback on the topic.

Hunter Metts

Before taking the stage, Hunter Metts, 22, opened up about his emotional performance during the final episode, where he fumbled the lyrics at the end of his song.

“To ruin the words in the end, I thought I was going home,” the software developer said, adding that the experience was a “hard pill to swallow.”

After the show, Metts said he was determined not to make the same mistake. “I can not tell you the number of times during the last week where I just sat and read my texts and wrote my texts out,” he said. “There’s something about that fear of it happening again.”

The exercise paid off – Metts rose sharply through “You Will Be in My Heart” from “Tarzan” and earned great praise from the judges.

Perry even threw another attempt at a clever pun.

“It was so nice to see you like that on stage with a full smile,” she said. “You really swung that one.”

Grace Kinstler

Grace Kinstler, 20, closed the show with a powerful rendition of “Into the Unknown” from “Frozen II.” The college student said the song talks about how she feels performing on “Idol” and the insecurity of getting into the music business.

After the show, Kinstler said she wanted to pick a song that spoke to what she and all the “Idol” contestants are feeling at this stage of the competition.

“With our performance, it’s really about what I can show our audience about me as a person,” she said. “It was so important for me to sing that song because I feel like that song represents a lot of how we feel about going into this industry, by choosing this path.”

Bryan told Kinstler she has “the tiger’s eye.”

“You got to control the whole room with your voice,” Perry added. “It was great.”

Who went home?

At the end of the episode, Seacrest revealed in no particular order who was safe. The last place in the top 7 went to Gunn, which means the end of the road for Wray, Coleman and Goncalves.

The three eliminated contestants reflected on their “Idol” travels after the show and said their “Idol” experiences have boosted their confidence.

“I got into this competition and thought I was just not worth anything,” Wray said. “These people, this competition, America – they’ve really taught me that I’m worth so much more than I could ever dream of, and that I need to do nothing but be myself. I just have to do it, I love and that’s enough. “

And singers said you haven’t seen the last of them: Coleman plans to release an album, Goncalves wants to win a Grammy, and Wray has set out to achieve EGOT status.

“Idol” returns Sunday at 8 EST with a Coldplay and Mother’s Day episode.

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