American Idol 2020 Episode 7 Recap: Hollywood Week Round 2 Debuts the Duet Challenge

American Idol 2020 Episode 7 Recap: Hollywood Week Round 2 Debuts the Duet Challenge

Hollywood Week 2020 rolls along with another American Idol surprise. With the contestants who made it through the new Genre Challenge of Round 1 anticipating the often dreaded Group Challenge, judges Lionel Richie, Katy Perry, and Luke Bryan break the news to the remaining contestants that things will be different. For the first time in the show's history, Round 2 is now the Duet Challenge. 

One contestant may make it through, both may, or both may go home. Host Ryan Seacrest guides us through the proceedings and mentor Bobby Bones will be especially active this round as the stress will still be high and the amount of sleep the signers will get will be low.

After the announcement is made, duos begin forming quickly in various ways — some happen naturally, some reluctantly. Louis Knight and Francisco Martin, who bonded on the first day, came together pretty immediately. The judges had already compared the two of them back during the audition rounds, and now they'll get to see them side bye side. They got to work immediately, noting they have similar influences and that it feels pretty natural.

While things went well initially, after some sleep Francisco is having trouble with memorizing a couple lines and succumbing to his nerves. But Louis is supportive. They named their duo 3:15, based on the time they went to sleep. While they practiced with instruments, the actual performance of "Breakeven" by The Script had them standing on their own.

Francisco flubs a few lines and is visibly disappointed at the end and Louis gives him a hug. Katy commends Louis on "not letting a friend out to dry" and gives Francisco the note that everyone forgets lines, but don't show defeat on the stage. Luke asks about his nerves and Francisco admits it's less nerves and more an issue with self-confidence. Luke and Lionel tell them the judges have confidence and high hopes for every contestant. The result? They both end up advancing.

Next up is a flurry of clips from several more duos. Franklin Boone and Jordan Moyes, the School of Rock faculty member and the singer who Luke said he wanted to hire immediately, are next. They sing "Use Somebody" by Kings of Leon and both play guitar, but only Franklin makes it through. Then Natalie Jane and Marcus Tinsley, who've dubbed their duo Major and Minor, sing "It's A Man's Man's World".  Mollie Isaacs and Lauren Jean join forces on Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain".

Lauren Mascitti and Leon Majcen follow with a nice "classic" sounding Country duet of "Jackson" by Johnny Cash and June Carter. Only Lauren makes it through, however. Cameron Havens and Ren Patrick are next singing "Shallow" by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. While Ren is cut, Cameron moves on.

Hannah Prestridge and Grace Leer, who named themselves Rockdale Meets Nashville, sings "Not Your Mamma's Broken Heart" by Miranda Lambert. Grace gets through but unfortunately  Hannah, who initially auditioned with her husband as part of the duo Treble Soul, does not. Katy shouts to her to not give up on her dream and Hannah responds that she'll be back next year.

Jimmy Levy, from the family of psychics, and Nick Merico, the second-timer who Lionel had to give some tough love to, are next. Nick notes that the judges are looking for teamwork so he's going to help Jimmy when he sings and Jimmy is going to help him. Jimmy has broken his habit of holding his hand to his ear. Lionel wasn't sure how their voices would match up and was very pleased with the result. They both make it to the next round.

Isa Pena and Olivia Ximines (who auditioned with her high school dance troop with her for support) teamed up and chose "Try" by Pink for their song. During a combo vocal run, the judges made impressed noises with Luke noting he got the chills. They get a standing ovation from the judges. Lionel says they did a great job together and, if they continue putting in this level of work, he's happy to have a front row seat. With positive notes, they both move on to Round 3.

Michael Wingate and Demi Rae, who call themselves Synergy, perform "Like I'm Gonna Lose You" by Megan Trainor feat. John Legend. They connected immediately on meeting and face each other for the whole performance.

This is a stark contrast to Madison Paige and Peyton Aldridge. Madison couldn't find Peyton the night before to rehearse and Bobby helps her search for him. She had to pick the song for them — "Don't You Wanna Stay" by Jason Aldridge featuring Kelly Clarkson — since he wasn't around and time was running out. Bobby gets his room number from one of the crew and, when they get there, Peyton says he went to change but first went to the gas station for some chicken wings. After a night of practice and a decent dress rehearsal, Peyton makes the choice to switch to playing guitar versus the piano accompanist. Madison agrees but is a bit nervous about it. They named their group "Chicken Wings" and their issues peeked out during their explanation. Madison puts her all into it, Peyton forgets some of the words. They end pretty strong. Luke calls the last minute change in quiet discussion with the judges. Before hearing the results, Peyton takes responsibility for his mistakes, apologizing to Madison and imploring that they give her another chance. After some discussion, the judges put both through, but it seems Luke disagrees in some capacity.

Jordan Jones and Dewayne Crocker Jr have come together as "JD Smooth" and picked "Unaware" by Allen Stone as their song. They get a standing ovation.

In perhaps the most unexpected duo and song choice of the night, Courtney Timmons (who Ryan found on the street and convinced the judges to let audition) and Zach Dobbins (the Country singer from a small town who vowed to keep his same truck if he got famous) chose "Dangerous Woman" by Ariana Grande. Initially they picked "Higher Love" but it wasn't working. Bobby is there to provide some guidance and, when Zach waivers, Bobby says he needs to stop being indecisive. It's almost 2am when they go in to rehearse with the vocal coach. Courtney's mom side comes out which means she's going to keep drilling it with Zach until it works. She makes an 11th hour decision to change to the Grande song. While the other contestants have gone to sleep at nearly 6am, they're still working. Zach still can't remember the words by soundcheck at nearly noon. Courtney largely sings with Zach forgetting the words. Lionel tells them they can give up anywhere but the stage - you got to fake it, and you never leave your partner alone. Katy says they can apply this lesson going forward and to remember they're special, before cutting them both leaving Courtney devastated.

Aliana Jester and YZ the Singer are the duo that is chosen as a shining example of chemistry. Several people had been noting that they seem like a really cute couple, including Luke which makes Aliana laugh and say they're going to get her in trouble. Aliana has a boyfriend and YZ, noting how quickly they gelled, says he doesn't want to step on anyone's toes. But if she was single, he'd be interested. Luke commends their showmanship and teamwork and sends them both to the next round.

Jovin Webb and Faith Bechnal also bonded quickly and did "It's A Man's Man's World" by James Brown. Jovin believes they'll be lifelong friends. Lionel notes they make a great combo and sends them both through.

Landen Starkman and Perrin York had a similar experience, choosing to duet together because they get along so well. They sing "Breakeven" by The Script. Lionel found what they did extremely moving and they both move on too.

Genavieve Linkowski (whose sister has passed since her first try at Hollywood Week) and Travis Finley found quick chemistry as well and named themselves "Ebony and Ivory". It's a bit difficult for Genavieve since she hasn't really done any duets since her sister's passing. They do "The Prayer" by Celine Dion. They get a standing ovation from the judges and most of the crowd. Katy gives Travis his news first - he's going through - with Genavieve to join him.

Jeb VonderBruegge and Alyssa Fair sing "Stay" by Rihanna feat. Mikky Ekko but only Jeb makes it through. Next is real life couple Kat Lopez and Alex Garrido (formerly known as Space Cowboy) who Luke dubbed "American Idol Ken and Barbie" during their audition together. They sang "You Say" by Lauren Dagle. Lionel starts feedback by saying they have a situation as Alex didn't have his best performance. Thus, he is cut and Kat will continue without him.

Margie Mays and Jonny West, also a real life couple but auditioned separately, are hoping to both make it through as well. Katy warned Jonny that one may make it farther than the other during his audition. His nerves are really frayed and Margie is trying to help during their rehearsal. With some anxiety on both ends, Bobby steps in to provide a calming pep talk. They do "Like I'm Gonna Lose You". Margie starts off strong and holds Jonny's hand a lot to ground him. Katy says the judges know they're both better than the performance they gave…but they both "barely" make it to the next round.

Makayla Phillips and Cyniah Elise were in the same group for the Genre Challenge. Once the duets were announced, Cyniah immediately joined with Makayla. Cyniah immediately pushes for "The Prayer" as their song choice. Unfortunately, Makayla has difficulty remembering lyrics. They work on it and eventually Cyniah's mom comes over to help coach Makayla. Come performance time, they knock it out of the park and get a standing ovation. Katy called it "beautiful" and sends they both through.

We have another montage of performances. Elyjuh Rene and Kimmy Gabriella (who is hoping to follow in her dad's footsteps and become a successful singer) sing "Stay" by Rihanna feat. Mikky Ekko. Evan Kuriga and Dillon James were initially looking to partner with women but locked eyes and knew they should team up. They sang "Use Somebody".  Lauren Spencer-Smith and Makayla Brownlee joined forces for "Set Fire To The Rain" by Adele. Every single contestant in this section gets to go to the next round.

Tito Rey and Robert Taylor are Hollywood Week roommates so they kept that team-up going. As soon as they met, they clicked. They picked "Say So" by PJ Morton feat. JoJo and the vocal coach has notes to make sure they're being meaningful in their runs and respecting the melody. They haven't slept but they did pick out very stylish outfits, but didn't quite follow the coach's advice. Lionel says they witnessed vocal gymnastics and know they can sing every note ever, but doesn't know how to judge it. He doesn't think the duet was the greatest and now they have to judge by past performances. Tito is sent home but Robert goes through.

With everyone very exhausted and running on fumes, Just Sam and Sheniel Maisonet had a rough runthrough with the vocal coach. Sam reached a breaking point and Shenial provided her support and a pep talk. Bobby checks in with them after, noting that at least they got their "fight" over with early. They choose "Mercy" by Shawn Mendes and Sam has a rough soundcheck. She has an anxiety attack after because it all means so much to her. They decided to do the song bilingually, adding some Spanish lines. They get a standing ovation from the judges. Luke loves that they're both improving and gaining confidence. Lionel appreciates that they acted out the song and delivered "drama". Luke lets them know they both get to the next round.

This is it — we've now reached the final stage: the Solo Round. Who will make the Top 40? Find out on MONDAY at 8|7c on ABC and come back SUNDAY at 8|7c as the march towards the Top 20 continues!

Catch up on past episodes: Check out the recaps here and full episodes here.

American IdolNews & BlogsUpdatesAmerican Idol 2020 Episode 7 Recap: Hollywood Week Round 2 Debuts the Duet Challenge