When Caleb Lee Hutchinson took the stage Sunday for week two of American Idol’s top 24 rounds, viewers probably noticed something different about the 19-year-old country singer. Caleb has lost a whopping 70 pounds since his audition, and while he always looked and sounded like a Nashville star, at any size, he exhibited a newfound swagger as he crooned Thomas Rhett’s sexy love ballad, “Die A Happy Man.” His confident performance practically felt like it should’ve been airing on the ACM Awards over on CBS.
Host Ryan Seacrest asked about Caleb’s new look, to which Caleb laughingly responded, “I just thought, ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if, like, I drank water and walked very night?’ The more the Instagram picture-likes went up, the more I wanted to hit the treadmill.’”
Caleb has hit the ground running this Idol season, figuratively speaking. From his first audition, his super-deep voice earned comparisons to Season 10 winner Scotty McCreery, and this week, mentor Bobby Bones invited Scotty to surprise Caleb. It felt like a torch-passing moment. However, when Caleb performed Sunday, he didn’t sound like a Scotty impersonator: “That voice, when you open your mouth, it’s crystal-clear identity the first time you hit the note,” observed Lionel Richie.
Below are the other performances of the night.
Amelia Hammer Harris, “Believer”
I’m surprised that the judges, particularly Katy Perry, claim this rock ‘n’ soul diva lacks the substance to go with her stylish surface. Yes, Amelia has cool baby bangs and looks good in leather pants, but she’s also a fierce performer — the total package. There was no personality lacking during her fiery Imagine Dragons cover. Katy gave another oddly apathetic critique, and Luke Bryan thought Amelia struggled to find her footing. Only the “fascinated” Lionel overtly praised her. I’m Team Lionel on this one. I’m a believer in Amelia.
Garrett Jacobs, “Treat You Better”
Garrett actually does lack personality; I spent much of Hollywood Week confusing him with several other WGWGs, and his cringeworthy dancing didn’t help him differentiate himself. Neither did this tired Shawn Mendes song. Garrett’s performance felt very safe, and his one risk — a shrill high note — hardly paid off. “Garrett, you’re not the best singer, but man, you are such a doggone heartthrob,” said a backhanded-complimenting Luke. This time, I understood the judges’ disdain.