On Sunday’s “American Idol” 2018 solo performances by the top 14, there didn't seem to be one second to spare for the hopeful talents, and more was at stake than ever on April 22. The fate of who stays and who goes packing is in the hands and clicks of the voting public now. Six of the top ten will be determined by fan votes, with ten votes allowed per method, and judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan will determine the remaining four in tonight's selection. Musical careers were not the only thing in the balance, because creating better lives for families mattered most to some onstage.

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This night was serious business.

The songs take over

The slimmed down Caleb Lee Hutchinson took on the banjo for the first time, and a big song with Chris Stapleton's “Midnight Train to Memphis.” The power of the song started to swallow Caleb whole at first, but the crowd got into the performance.

Katy Perry pointed out that “you sing like you can't believe you’re here.” Lionel Richie noted that when the girls started screaming, Caleb forgot the song. Luke Bryan still praised the motivation of the singer, but at this stage, motivation alone cannot be enough.

Michelle Sussett pulled out all the stops on her pop side with the Anne-Marie and Marshmello song, "FRIENDS." There was plenty of attitude, but not necessarily a display of range. The Venezuelan bombshell is a favorite, so she may not be in any danger. Luke Bryan declared that “a pop star is born,” and Lionel Richie was impressed that Michelle “owned it.” Katy Perry suggested that Michelle keep in mind the viewers at home beyond her live audience.

Say what you will about Marcio Donaldson’s old-school song choice, this young dad has a likability quotient that rises to the stratosphere, and he was out to show himself as “an entertainer” with Barry Manilow's “It's a Miracle,” and there was a roar of approval from the crowd.

Lionel Richie agreed that Marcio was old-school and that he was “on fire.” Katy Perry chimed in with “You’re so joyful,” while Luke Bryan noted that Donaldson did a good job with a style that the judge wasn't expecting. Week to week, Marcio is using all his stagecraft learning, and the singer merits a chance at a life long-removed from Compton.

Mara Justine was out to show huge emotion with the anthem from “The Greatest Showman,” “This Is Me,” and emotion overwhelmed the 16-year-old. Katy Perry said that Mara “arrived at the middle” of the song, and Luke Bryan honestly critiqued that he was not a fan of the performance. Lionel Richie encouraged the confidence rising in the singer.

Garrett Jacobs was another who squeaked in with good looks and the judges’ grace, up to now, but he showed real grounding and progress with Philip Phillips’ “Raging Fire.” He seemed truly comfortable onstage, and that translated to the crowd. “Dynamic” was the word that Luke Bryan chose for the performance, and Lionel Richie noticed that Garrett was “going in and out of consciousness” about his performance.

The mentoring encouraged the newfound confidence, and Katy Perry suggested that those waiting backstage needed to do a few jumping jacks to loosen up. It's a good thing she didn't demonstrate, or who knows what wardrobe malfunction [VIDEO] could have occurred.

Star presence

Ada Vox marked a defining turn in the night of performances. Simply the presence of the alter ego of Adam Sanders, standing regally amidst white light, was something stunning. Launching into Queen’s “The Show Must Go On,” Ada filled the auditorium with her/his voice, inhabiting every corner, every inch. Lionel Richie raved that Ada arrived “to stop the show,” while Katy Perry countered that the singer came “to start the show.” Try not to say anything about bringing the house down again, Luke Bryan simply praised “the biggest voice” that jumpstarted the evening anew.

No one should plan on putting the gloriously unique Catie Turner in any corner soon. She chose Hozier’s “Take Me to Church,” and just hearing her polish off the “Amen’s” was a spiritual experience, not to mention her jazzy improvisations. She got a severe scolding for scrolling through her social media comments, especially from Katy, who told her to “stop giving the haters a job.” Lionel Richie reminded Catie that “you can win this.”

Cade Foehner demonstrated not just his rocker presence and voice, but also his guitar prowess on Santana’s “Black Magic Woman.” He still needs to learn that every line doesn't need to end with a growl, and hanging his lower lip from the microphone, but Cade has star potential. Luke Bryan deemed his performance “a feather in your guitar” (which always has a dangling feather). Lionel Richie raved that Cade was “the complete package,” while Katy Perry personally plucked hairs from Cade’s head to give to her mom, a passionate fan of the singer on Instagram. The Texas produce grower was also presented with a kale bouquet from a California fan.

Dennis Lorenzo went soulful and vulnerable with “In My Blood” by Sean Mendes, and in his profile, spoke of his daughters’ love as being the inspiration for his “American Idol” journey. Lionel Richie describes the performance as Lorenzo's “breakthrough” moment, stretching himself into a new category of R&B-rocker, as both Katy Perry and Luke Bryan concurred. Bryan applauded that he had seen “so many sides” from this one singer.

A fine finish

Maddie Poppe made nothing but more friends with her heartfelt rendition of “Homeward Bound.” She personalized the Paul Simon classic with her perfect, lilting tones and a sense of perfect longing. She got standing ovations from the three judges. Katy Perry praised that she thought she heard Joni Mitchell when she closed her eyes. Lionel Richie raved that Maddie was creating a career, and Luke Bryan noted that the singer handles every note “like a pro.” No matter where “American Idol” takes Poppe [VIDEO], she's here to stay.

Judges have been asking for a wow from Jurnee, and the singer certainly gave it to them with “Bang Bang,” punching sexual energy and fun into the Ariana Grande’s hit. Luke Bryan seemed shocked, and Lionel Richie told the singer that she clearly had “an effect on us” as all three judges joined in ovation. Katy Perry commented that Jurnee had become “an artist now.”

Give Jonny Brenns an A for effort. The singer took Katy Perry’s advice to take a ballet class and even got a sticker, but still has a lot of growing to do as a performer. He's got the smiling and laughter down, and all the panel can feel that he's opening up. Katy Perry commended that “real men do wear tights,” and Luke Bryan counseled that he needed to “attack the song,” especially one like his choice, “This Is Gospel,” by Panic! At The Disco.

Lionel Richie dubbed Michael J Woodard as “a Martian” because of his wizardry with so many genres of music in his “American Idol” stint. For this high-stakes night, he chose Sia’s “Titanium,” and even while standing still, his voice took everyone listening on a journey. Katy Perry told Michael that she was going to see Sia at Coachella [VIDEO], and she was going to insist that the artist see Michael's performance of her song. Luke Bryan said that every performance made the panel “love you a little bit more,” and hopefully voters are still in the affair.

The final performance of the night was a huge one, as the country songstress, Gabby Barrett, sang “The Climb” for all she was worth. Visual effects might have added to the experience, but Luke Bryan praised that it was his favorite vocal of the night. Lionel Richie said “a star is born,” and Katy Perry topped it off by saying that Gabby had “been through the star wash.” Maybe Miley Cyrus will send the singer some love on Twitter.

See who makes the public’s and the panel’s cut to the “American Idol” 2018 top ten tonight.