After Sunday's Top 10 elimination ceremony, Perry told Gold Derby of her regrets as a judge, “I think about Ryan Hammond. But ultimately it’s a competition and we can only do as best as we can,” she added.
Hammond, whose Sam Smith-esque voice led him to the Top 20 of Season 17, was eliminated after judges thought his duet to “Hold On, I’m Comin'” with Cynthia Erivo lacked "swagger."
Other contestants that made a lasting impression on Perry were last season's Effie Passero and this year's Margie Mays, who left behind her silly antics to embrace her talent before being sent home during Hawaii week after her rendition of "All About That Bass" by Meghan Trainor.
“There’s such a big combination of things that have to happen — talent, timing, catching a lucky star,” Perry explained. “So someone like Effie and someone like Ryan and someone like Margie, in two to five years they may reinvent themselves or find their instant identifiable stamp and combine it with their talent in such a way that it becomes this explosive thing. But it’s just so hard getting down to one Idol, especially when you have this level of talent.”
Bryan agreed Hammond was “on the bubble” following the duet performance that was ultimately his last on this season, recalling of the decision, “But you know, I think in these moments we have to go on, are they making an emotional [pitch]?”
He continued, “There are millions of great singers out there that can sing, sing, sing, sing, sing. But do they give you chill-bumps? Are they unique? Are they giving you an emotion? Sometimes America may not see that, and sometimes we may not see it, but we’re reacting and acting to the best of our ability.”
Ultimately, the judges couldn't have seen their Season 17 finalists shaking out any other way.
Richie told the outlet, “When we started out, there were some that I knew were gonna be like, ‘Oh my God, this is amazing,’ and then the second stage didn’t kick in. Where we are now, I can’t imagine anyone else other than the [finalists].”
American Idol airs Sundays and Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
Photo credit: ABC/Cragi Sjodin