Few reality shows are as well-loved as American Idol.
Though the show debuted as far back as 2002, it has since continued for 17 full seasons and has brought us tons of breakout stars. If you’ve been watching from the very beginning, you remember the meteoric rises of singers like Kelly Clarkson, Fantasia Barrino, Carrie Underwood, Jordin Sparks, and so many others. Though the show began as a relatively straightforward singing contest, it has grown and built in new features and guests throughout the years.
Needless to say, the newest season is the most advanced iteration of it yet.
Beyond the all-star judges, the show also includes some pretty great celebrity guests as well.
On this season, one of the contestants that has returned from Season 16 is Alyssa Raghu, a 16-year-old singer from Orlando, Florida. In her original season, she made progress on the show and got into the top 24 contestants but was eventually eliminated. This year, she returned and has thus far advanced throughout each round! On one special episode of the show, the contestants were paired with celebrities to do All-Star duets—and Raghu’s was particularly special.
That’s because she was paired with amazing singer-songwriter Julia Michaels for her performance!
For anyone who doesn’t know, Michaels is something of a breakout star in recent years.
Though her career started with her writing songs for artists like Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, Hailee Steinfeld, and Selena Gomez, she went on to release her own EP called Nervous System in 2017. That release had her hit song “Issues” on it, a vulnerable song about learning how to navigate emotional intimacy with a romantic partner. The song and EP earned her Grammy nominations for Song of the Year and Best New Artist, respectively. Because Raghu was trying to show more of her range, it only made sense that she would sing “Issues” for the judges.
As it turns out, though, she got a huge boost from doing the performance with Michaels as well!
Before the song starts, Raghu explains how obsessed with Michaels she is in her personal life.
Onstage, a soft guitar provides the intro for the song. Raghu begins by taking up the lead vocal on the song with Michaels playing a delicate supporting role. Because the vocals of the song are so fragile, it’s definitely a challenging choice. By the time the song gets to the chorus, it’s clear that this was a perfect choice for Raghu—she nails the soft high notes with perfect tone and clarity, missing none of the emotion.
After hearing Raghu hit her stride, judge Lionel Ritchie’s jaw drops!
While both Michaels and Raghu do a beautiful job singing the song, Raghu steals the show!
Michaels’ original song has a very indie and gentle sensibility about it. Still, Raghu’s version gives the melody a lot more muscle and depth without sacrificing any of the feeling and intimacy. After a few more verses and some crowd participation, Michaels and Raghu come together perfectly to sing the last lines of the song. When it’s all over, the crowd erupts into applause!
When it’s all done, Michaels goes off backstage and Raghu stands before the judges.
First up is Katy Perry—who praises Raghu’s inventive vocal melodies on the song!
Luke Bryan backs up that opinion by saying that Raghu had so much restraint and control while singing the song. Last but not least, Lionel Ritchie gets the last word:
“You brought the sauce, sister!”
Though there are plenty of reasons to watch American Idol, performances like this remind us of just how magical this show can be.
There are obviously plenty of talented people in the world, but not all of them get the chance to be discovered by a wider audience. When they are discovered, how many of those same people get a chance to perform alongside their idols? Though the answer is obviously not many, this show provided that exact platform for Raghu—and she clearly knocked it out of the ballpark! Though the season is still in progress and it’s anybody’s game, viewers are sure not to forget the beautiful moment that Raghu shared with Julia Michaels.
Congratulations to Alyssa and good luck for the rest of the season! Check out the clip below:
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Source: YouTube/American Idol