Luke Bryan was on “American Idol” 2018 in his usual seat on April 15, and singing live at the ACM awards on another network. That happens, of course, by the magic of television, and some of the singers in the final 12 of the Top 24 clearly were a little rattled by their big stage moment in singing solos. Another select group completely captivated the audience and the judges, seeming to be destined for the stage. One gave the panel a complete surprise, and another performance garnered a loving hug from Katy Perry. Great performers come in all kinds of packages and deliver just when they need to most.

Sputter and style

Amelia Hammer Harris kicked off the night with Imagine Dragons’ “Believer.” There's no doubt that the lady has talent and has inherited her family legacy of artistry. Sadly, though, she has a case of constantly putting style over substance, and radio host and talent guru Bobby Bones tried to help her with interpersonal connections. Katy Perry urged her to present her own style and emotion in the future. Luke Bryan said he felt like she was “chasing” the song at first, and Lionel Richie remarked that Amelia always “shows another side.” She may be on the bubble in making the cut on Tuesday night.

Good-looking Garrett Jacobs was game for dance lessons with Bobby Bones, but bit off a bigger song than he could chew with Shawn Mendes’ “Treat You Better.” Lionel Richie noticed that he was playing to the ladies, but that meant that he was “concentrating the other way” rather than on singing.

Katy Perry called the performance “a bit Rocky Road.” It may be the end of the road for Garrett.

Maddie Poppe picked up the mood in a big way with Melanie’s “Brand New Key,” throwing in plenty of personality. She brought the perfect vibe to the song and the stage, and even though Luke Bryan said he had never heard the song, he felt like “skipping along the beach.” Katy Perry applauded her artistry, dubbing Maddie “infectious,” and Lionel Richie reminded Poppe to stay on the road that she's on because big things are to come.

Talk about laying the house flat, Ada Vox, the alter ego of Adam Sanders, slew the standard, “Feeling Good” and looked spectacular doing it. Proving himself/herself as a total performer, Vox moved Katy Perry to start flinging her coat, and asserting “you came here to win.” Lionel Richie called Vox’s talent “so grand,” and Luke Bryan praised how consistently this performer “brings the house down.” Ada is a diva and a definite artist.

Caleb Lee Hutchinson had a dream come true even before coming to the stage, getting tips from Season 10 “American Idol,” Scotty McCreery, on handling this unique crash course in the music industry. The performance of “Die a Happy Man” was not perfect, but regardless, Caleb comes across as truly authentic, which Lionel Richie referred to as “crystal-clear identity.” Part of that identity has changed, with Caleb dropping 70 pounds. Katy Perry commented on the “timelessness” of his voice, but Luke Bryan only said that it was not Hutchinson's best song.

Effie Passero had the perfect confidence for Heart’s hit, “Barracuda,” and all the judges noticed. Luke Bryan praised that Effie “sang Ann Wilson better than Ann Wilson.” Who knows if that is even possible, but Katy Perry said she could see the “Stardust” floating around the singer.

Lionel Richie reminded her to “take it,” referring to the transformation happening in the singer’s confidence.

Triumph of young voices

Alyssa Raghu is only 15, and her goal for the night was to get the attention of all the judges, not just her advocate, Katy Perry. Bobby Bones coached her in some moves for stage presence, and she put them to use with Rihanna’s “Stay.” Luke Bryan admitted that “you didn’t have me till tonight,” and Katy teased, “stay off my sauce,” referring to Alyssa’s name. Perry commended her protégé’s “learning,” and Lionel Richie compared the singer to a chick becoming “the whole chicken.”

Marcio Donaldson makes it clear every time he steps onto the stage that he is singing for what matters—a future for himself and his son, Rashad.

No matter how Bobby Bones scolded him over lacking a social media imprint, no listener can refute his incredible impression on Natalie Cole’s “Inseparable,” not only vocally, but so “straight to the heart,” that anyone in earshot could feel its power. Besides three ovations, Lionel Richie reminded Marcio that he had earned his right to sing the song and that Natalie was watching from heaven. Luke Bryan praised the singer as a “survivor,” but Katy Perry wanted to do more than say “I love you.” She led her fellow judges right up to the stage for a lasting hug of the young dad, unable to contain his tears. The Monday duets performance with Allen Stone should be very special, too.

Mara Justine had her own surprise for everyone watching.

The teen known for her raucous, bluesy stage numbers and frequent “hair pops” subdued her energy for “Run To You” by Whitney Houston, and the performance had the judges in awe. “This sounds so good, so you,” praised Katy Perry. Lionel Richie remembered some advice in his young career about “the power of standing still” and how Justine had found that same strength.

Bobby Bones found himself inspired by Jurnee, and her personal goal to be an inspiration to other teens and anyone struggling to be content in his or her own personhood. Her selection was “Flashlight” by Jessie J, and all Katy Perry could say was “Wow” after the performance that was so “effortless.” Perry challenged her to “sing something that breaks my heart” next time.

Luke Bryan remarked that she made her performances seem “too easy,” while Lionel Richie asked for “attitude” in her next time on stage. The journey for Jurnee isn’t over.

Shannon O'Hara took on a giant song with “All I Ask” by Adele, and she not only pulled off the performance, she displayed stage presence like a pro, pulling her microphone off the stand with perfect timing, as Lionel Richie noted. Luke Bryan told Shannon that “you always deliver,” and Katy told her to “play a little chess” looking at other singers and finding out what she could offer that no one else does. She deserves to be heard, and she runs the risk of getting lost in the shuffle.

The nerves were definitely palpable for Ron Boltongez as he closed the night with “Dancing On My Own,” slowed down and stripped-down, but equally felt was the singer’s heart through every lyric.

Luke Bryan was clearly moved, remarking how he “felt you” to Ron, and that he thought the performance was “the best” from him thus far. Lionel Richie shared that the music business is about “struggle” far beyond star trappings and this singer shows that he wants it. Katy Perry simply reminded Ron that he “belongs here” before ending the night.

The cut down to seven will come after the duets on Monday, and let’s hope that these talents realize that their futures are not over just because cameras aren’t rolling.