Everyone's favorite reality talent show, American Idol, gave a formidable demonstration last week of just how well it was able to tackle its live-segment performances in the midst of a global pandemic. The series pulled off the unthinkable (if one knows anything about the challenges of TV and film production) and managed to corral its top 20 at their own homes,  beaming respectably executed and produced performances into America's living rooms Sunday (Apr. 26).

That went off far better than anyone could hope or expect, honestly. And, thus, audiences across the nation were eager to see how the show continued this new normal for the following Sunday (May 3). Utilizing a theme of "home" (go figure), AI's second "quarantine" episode narrowed the Season 18 contestants by nearly half, down to a top 10.

Full of surprises still, however, the show ended up being a top 11 result, as one contestant was saved from America's ruthless cut personally by the judges. The panel only had one save to offer up, and they decided to give it to 17-year-old Makayla Phillips. The teen, who'd wowed with vocally pop/diva-ish tunes previously (she presented a fiery version of Ariana Grande's "Greedy" last week), was breathlessly humble at scoring the cherished save, gasping, "This has been my dream ever since I was little."

Her reaction was not particularly surprising, but her song choice was. While Grace Leer—who made the top 10 proper—has held onto the golden ring of being the one true country contestant, Phillips decided to move into this territory herself, choosing Miranda Lambert's "The House That Built Me" to represent her theme of "home."

The surprisingly sentimental choice worked splendidly, showing that Phillips could command a less brassy approach. All three judges, of course, were wowed, with Katy Perry expressing particular gratefulness that she was back safely in rotation. "I think she can give some of the other contestants that are in our top ten a run for their money, vocally, as long as she's picking the right song," Perry noted.

Phillips had a simple explanation for her choice: "It just reminds me so much of my home and my family and everything that I love so much in this life." She added that she wasn't intimidated by choosing a different genre to perform in than usual. "I just wanted to show everyone a different side of me. A more sentimental side."

Phillips tipped the scales over to 11, but the contestants who were voted through in the traditional viewers' choice manner this week were Leer, Louis Knight, Julia Gargano, Jovin Webb, Jonny West, Sofia James, Arthur Gunn (who did an interestingly boppy, reggae-tinged version of John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads"), Just Sam, Dillon James and Francisco Martin.

Hooked on the show's new format? Continue to tune into Idol every Sunday evening at 8PM ET to follow along while in quarantine.

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