American Idol's Top 20 Sing From Home — Watch the Best Performances

American Idol stayed true to its name on Sunday, broadcasting from nearly every corner of the country as the Top 20 contestants of Season 18 performed for viewers’ votes from the comforts of their own (occasionally stunning!) homes.

The 20 remaining contestants, as formally revealed last week, were sent special packages — each contained three iPhones for multiple angles, as well as professional microphone and lighting kits — which they used to convert their homes into makeshift performance venues.

With Ryan Seacrest, Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie beaming in from remote locations, the show went off without a hitch. In fact, depending on how tired you are of Idol‘s tired time-honored format, this at-home edition may have been a welcome change. Scroll down for our thoughts on each of tonight’s performances, along with video of the very best:

KIMMY GABRIELA (Ariana Grande and Macy Gray’s “Lonely”)
Thanks to the botanical dream that is Gabriela’s backyard, I was already digging this performance before she belted her first notes. I actually feel like the setting played a big role in the overall presentation; she channeled the perfect amount of emotion for a backyard jam. Despite consistently delivering in previous episodes, she hasn’t always lingered on people’s minds, and I think that’s starting to change. Even Katy admitted that she didn’t recognize her at first; she’s really learning who she is. Grade: A-
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JOVIN WEBB (Joe Cocker’s “With a Little Help From My Friends”)
This was so good, I got chills. And Wonder Years flashbacks. Jovin gave us everything we’ve come to expect from him at this point, a fully realized performance that hooked us from the start and took us on a journey. Drenched in the sauce, we were. Grade: A
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FRANKLIN BOONE (Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”)
There was something so natural about the soulful spin Boone put on this ’80s classic. Seeing him in his element also helped me put his whole picture together, and I liked what I saw. From the cool hair to the casually unbuttoned shirt, he has an image that works. And that voice! It’s like John Legend and Seal had a baby, but rather than using their connections to get him a record deal (nepotism!), they made him audition for American Idol like everybody else. Grade: A

OLIVIA XIMINES (Billie Eilish’s “Bad Guy”)
First of all, I loved the way she arranged the lights n her fire place. (I really didn’t expect to get so many decoration inspirations from this show, but hey, none of this has turned out the way anyone expected.) Flipping this famously whisper-heavy song on its head by turning into a belt-fest was risky, but Ximines owned it. Grade: A-
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LOUIS KNIGHT (JP Saxe and Julia Michaels’ “If the World Was Ending”)
Knight has proven his mastery of emotional ballads time and again, so it was no surprise that the judges loved his take on — wait for it — another emotional ballad. And they were right to do so, as he sold the heck out of it, but I can’t help but wonder how Knight would fare with something more upbeat. This kid is 19 years old, and he looks like the forgotten sixth member of One Direction. Can he start having some fun? Grade: A-
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MAKAYLA PHILLIPS (Ariana Grande’s “Greedy”)
First of all, this is an extremely underrated Grande song, so I love Phillips for choosing it — even more than I already loved her. Plus, I’ve always associated “Greedy” with one of RuPaul’s Drag Race’s most uncomfortable lip syncs of all time, so this performance also doubled as a palate cleanser. Anyway, this worked for me on every conceivable level. Not only were the vocals on point, but I was really digging the private lounge vibe Phillips set up at home. She’s really comfortable at the microphone, and I feel like she’s among the more current-sounding contestants. Grade: A

ALIANA JESTER (Whitney Houston’s “Run to You”)
Inspired by Richie calling her a “young Whitney,” Jester chose to tackle this classic ballad from the Bodyguard soundtrack, delivering a performance far beyond her 19 years. This was definitely the most mature she’s sounded yet, and those lamps were an excellent touch. Grade: B+
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FAITH BECNEL (Bishop Briggs’ “River”)
Becnel may be one of the more petite contestants, but she consistently brings one of the biggest sounds, and this week was no exception. That said, since Bryan believes this was the best rendition of “River” he’s ever heard, can we finally retire it from the competition? Grade: A-
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NICK MERICO (Plain White T’s “Hey There Delilah”)
If nothing else, Merico certainly solidified his teeny bopper status with this solid performance of a truly emo ear worm. The judges appreciated his stripped-down version of the song, which revealed the subtleties in his voice. Richie especially enjoyed Merico’s performance, which is saying a lot, considering he literally hated him the first time they met this season. Grade: B+
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LAUREN SPENCER-SMITH (Jessie J’s “Mamma Knows Best”)
The metamorphosis this girl has undergone is unreal. I barely the recognized the houndstooth queen when she showed up on camera at what appears to be the set of Camp Rock. She gave us so much attitude, so many little nuances — I’m just really impressed. Grade: A-
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CYNIAH ELISE (Demi Lovato’s “Warrior”)
I don’t go throwing words like “bombastic” around very often, but how else would you describe Elise’s performance? Light and pretty one minute, then explosive and powerful the next, she gave us her complete spectrum. The judges’ only critique is that she needs to feel the material a little more. (Katy’s advice: “Work that camera like you work that mirror at home.”) Grade: A-
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FRANCISCO MARTIN (Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream”)
It took guts to perform a Perry original, but I never doubted Martin for a second. Perfect vocals aside, this performance oozed charm and personality. I’m actually glad there was no audience tonight, because we probably wouldn’t have been able to hear Martin’s voice over all the screaming. He absolutely made this his own, just as he always has. I’m a big fan. Grade: A

SOPHIA JAMES (Maggie Rogers’ “Burning”)
Every contestant has evolved throughout the competition, but not every evolution has included a new name. (Gasp!) Anyway, Sophia James made quite a splash this week, crushing high notes and runs without breaking a sweat. This felt like a professional performance, through and through. Down to the hair flip at the end. Grade: A-
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DEWAYNE CROCKER JR. (James Brown’s I Got You (I Feel Good)”
With his Christmas tree still shining bright, Crocker got the holidays started early, putting an even funkier spin on this get-up-and-dance classic. The judges wanted more growl in his voice, but they loved his confidence and energy. No disagreements here. Grade: A-
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DILLON JAMES (Ray Lamontagne’s “Let It Be Me”)
James didn’t give us the most exciting performance of the night, but his overall package was polished enough to make it a success. As always, he knows exactly who he is as a person and as an artist. Truthfully, I don’t actually know how (or if) he could possibly grow from here. His entire future in this competition will depend on how America responds to him as a person — and I feel like they’ll respond well. Grade: A-
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ARTHUR GUNN (Wynonie Harris’ “Lovin’ Machine”)
Like James, Gunn seems to knows who he is. And once again, I’m not sure what — if anything — I would even dare to change about him. Also, was I the only one who couldn’t stop staring at his eyes during this performance? I’m not saying he was briefly possessed by the spirit of music itself… but I’m not not saying that. Grade: A-

JULIA GARGANO (Christina Perri’s “Human”)
Perri purists (they’re out there!) may not have appreciated how much Gargano diverted from the song’s melody, but this remained an undeniably killer performance. Richie, for one, appreciated the changes, commending Gargano for staying true to her own style. Grade: A
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GRACE LEER (Faith Hill’s “Cry”)
With a somewhat refreshing rendition of a song we’ve heard many times before, Grace proved that Idol viewers were right to keep her in the competition. Grade: A
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JUST SAM (Fantasia’s “I Believe”)
“Oh my goddess,” indeed. Just Sam’s vocals and Fantasia’s music turned out to be even more of a match in Idol heaven than I could have imagined. This performance was beautiful and uplifting and true to Just Sam’s journey thus far. Let’s be honest, there’s been a Top 10 chair with Just Sam’s name on it since Day 1, and it will be well-deserved. Grade: A

JONNY WEST (Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”)
This was kind of an eery song to end the night on, huh? (Also, hi, Margie Mays! We see you!) Anyway, West definitely put his own spin on this timeless standard, spinning it in all the right directions. The end result was an emotional jam that sounded like it could have been written today. Grade: A
Click here to watch!

Which of Idol‘s Top 20 should make it through to the Top 10? Vote for your 10 favorite performances from Sunday’s episode in our poll below, then drop a comment with more of your thoughts.

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