Two hours of live Disney music on ABC? Now that’s the kind of corporate synergy we can get behind.
American Idol’s remaining five finalists — Colin Stough, Iam Tongi, Megan Danielle, Wé Ani and Zachariah Smith — got in touch with their inner children on Sunday for Idol’s annual salute to the House of Mouse (aka the best night of the year), and it was just as magical as ever.
This season’s Mickey-approved setlist featured songs from beloved movies and shows like Frozen II, The Lion King, Cars, Maleficent, Lava, Hannah Montana, Pete’s Dragon, Onward and even Guardians of the Galaxy, which the contestants fine-tuned with help from guest mentor Sofia Carson.
And what would Disney Week be without a few more special guests? Sunday’s episode also welcomed Sara Bareillis for a special performance of “When You Wish Upon a Star,” as well as The Little Mermaid herself Halle Bailey for a musical preview of the live-action remake. (Click here to watch “Part of Your World.”)
Read on for a breakdown of tonight’s performances, as well as the results of America’s votes. Once you’ve digested everything, do some voting of your own in our polls and drop a comment with your thoughts on Sunday’s Idol.
Wé Ani (‘Into the Unknown’)
Ani kicked off Disney Night big with a new classic, “Into the Unknown” from Frozen II. It was a thrill to watch Ani stand in her power this week, looking like Elsa in a gorgeous blue gown and sounding even better. The fact that she sang Aurora’s harmony notes (if you know, you know) towards the end was even more impressive. Ladies and gentlemen, the bar has been set.
Zachariah Smith (‘I Just Can’t Wait to Be King’)
This performance was so much better than it had any right to be. The moment I heard that the cheesiest singer in the competition (sorry!) was performing the cheesiest song from The Lion King (not sorry!), I nearly wrote the whole thing off.
But I’ll be damned if Smith didn’t totally crush it, keeping the energy going with all of the showmanship we’ve come to expect from this former burger flipper. Don’t get me wrong, he still belongs in prison for that glittery jungle shirt he was wearing, but the vocals were solid.
Colin Stough (‘Real Gone’)
Generally speaking, I don’t mess with the Cars franchise. In a world populated entirely by talking cars, where are the humans? Who created these cars? What do they eat? Far too many unanswered questions for my taste.
That said, Stough’s performance of “Real Gone” — written by Sheryl Crow and John Shanks for the 2006 film — tasted just right. His confidence has never been stronger, he sounded fantastic and he owned that stage.
Megan Danielle (‘You Can’t Stop the Girl’)
Song choice? Bad. It’s Disney night. Your possibilities are endless. Why would you choose a random song Bebe Rexha wrote for the second Maleficent movie? Pick something people know!
Despite all of the above, this ended up being a strong first showing from Danielle tonight. She really excelled in the song’s bigger moments, belting some powerful notes that confirmed she’s exactly where she belongs.
Iam Tongi (‘Lava’)
Pixar shorts are basically designed to leave viewers emotionally wrecked, and “Lava” — which preceded Inside Out in theaters — is no exception. Needless to say, Tongi’s voice melted into the song like butter. I lava’d every second of it. It wasn’t the most exciting performance, but it was easily the most authentic and charming. And the screaming audience seemed to agree. Once again, Tongi proved that you don’t need all those bells and whistles to put on a good show.
Wé Ani (‘The Climb’)
I wasn’t expecting to hear any Hannah Montana tonight, so Ani’s decision to perform “The Climb” was both surprising and delightful. Maybe it’s because we’ve spent so much time with her on this journey, but it was hard not to feel the emotions behind the lyrics about the importance of the journey vs. the destination. Echoing Luke Bryan, I also appreciate that the arrangement catered towards Ani’s strengths. This was Ani at her best.
Zachariah Smith (‘Life Is a Highway’)
American Idol is determined to make me a Cars fan, isn’t it?
Frankly, I’m surprised it took someone this long into the episode to perform “Life Is a Highway,” which seems to be a staple of Disney Night whether I like it or not.
Once again, this performance was better than it had any right to be. Smith’s showmanship may be a bit much for some viewers, but it fit this song perfectly. And the vocals were on point.
Colin Stough (‘Nobody Knows’)
Easily the most random song choice of the night — yes, even more than Danielle’s Maleficent performance — was this one from Stough. I mean, I’m pretty sure I believe that a live-action Pete’s Dragon exists, I just don’t know anyone who has actually seen it.
My assumption is that it’s the saddest movie Disney has ever made, at least based on this major downer from Stough. I kept waiting for it to pick up into something triumphant, but it just… never did. Vocally it was solid, but I’m not sure what Bryan was yammering about Stough holding the room.
Megan Danielle (‘Carried Me With You’)
Another of Disney’s lesser-known songs written for a recent movie, this emotional Brandi Carlile tune sounded like it was written for Danielle. Don’t get me wrong, I really wish Idol kept the energy going in the second half of the night (so many ballads!), but this was strong.
Iam Tongi (‘Father and Son’)
Stretching the limits of what constitutes a Disney song, Tongi performed Cat Stevens’ “Father and Son,” which technically qualifies because it’s played during *checks notes* Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Qualifications aside — and ignoring that this show needed more upbeat songs and less ballads — this was a beautiful performance, fittingly devoted to Tongi’s late father. If anyone watching didn’t already love Tongi before this, they do now.
Results: Wé Ani — ELIMINATED
America got it wrong with this one, plain and simple. Ani slayed both of her songs tonight, and she absolutely deserves to compete in the finale.
Results: Zachariah Smith — ELIMINATED
He wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but as the judges frequently pointed out, Smith is an entertainer. His talent and charisma got him this far, but I can’t say I expected him to make it to the finale.
Results: Colin Stough — SAFE
I would have eliminated Stough in favor of Ani, especially after that sleepy second performance this week — but I wish him well next week.
Results: Megan Danielle — SAFE
Danielle has presented herself as a true artist all season, so seeing her sail through to the finale was neither surprising nor objectionable.
Results: Iam Tongi — SAFE
Of the five remaining singers, Tongi was the only one I absolutely knew was going to make it to next week’s finale. No surprise here, nor will my jaw drop when the Hawaiian crooner wins it all.
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This story originally appeared on TVLine