‘American Idol': Sage McNeely Dubbed Top 5 Material After Hypnotic Take on ‘Jolene’ [Watch]
American Idol’s Top 24 contestants made their way to Disney’s Aulani Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii, as part of their next stop for the Season 20 singing competition. Twelve of those 24 took the stage on Sunday evening (April 10), singing a song of their choice in hopes of advancing another week.
This time, judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie only observed the hopefuls from their seats, leaving the fate of the Top 24 in America's hands. Hoping to continue in the competition is Sage McNeely, who revealed “Jolene” by Dolly Parton as her song choice.
It was without question that the 21-year-old singer from Burbank, Calif., had some big shoes to fill with her pick. Luckily, she didn’t have to rehearse alone — she was able to prepare for her performance with country's own Jimmie Allen, who offered his advice to the twelve contestants who were getting ready to take the stage.
“I’d be nervous to sing that song. But, you give me vibes like you’re the type of person that likes a challenge,” the 2021 CMA Best New Artist told McNeely, giving her an extra boost of confidence going into her performance.
Stepping onstage in an earthy-colored floor-length skirt, McNeely made the 1974 classic country tune her own. Digging into her lower register in the first few lyrics, the fiery red-haired songstress hooked the audience as she channeled the story of a woman begging another not to steal her man. McNeely’s passionate delivery of the iconic song was well-received, and it earned her some high praise from the panel of judges.
“That was a very hypnotic rendition,” Perry commented. “It was very cool. There are a couple other pros in this competition, though, so it’s really going to be about how you’re attacking this song in showing off your individual quirks and strengths. I was missing a few from you if I’m not going to lie tonight, but, for me, you’re definitely in the Top 5.”
“I think some of your note choices were really pro. You’ve got so many flavors in your voice, and I think that’s why Katy is throwing out Top 5. I can’t pose any arguments with that. I think you have a special artistic talent just in your vocal abilities,” Bryan added.
“The most important part here is when you pick such an iconic song like that, it is absolutely imperative that you make it yours. As long as you don’t lose you, you’ve got a ways to go in this career,” Richie shared, following his fellow judges' advice.
McNeely, as with the rest of the contestants, is now vying for America’s votes in hopes of moving on. Viewers can catch an all-new episode of American Idol on Monday (April 11) at 8PM ET on ABC.
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