ABC's interactive singing competition, "Rising Star," continued Sunday night with seven contestants advancing to the quarterfinals after the East Coast vote and one additional act being sent through after the West Coast broadcast. Five other acts were sent home.
Shameia Crawford, Joshua Peavy, April Lockhart, Maneepat Molloy, Jesse Kinch, Audrey Kate Geiger and Austin French advanced to next week's quarterfinals after the East Coast broadcast.
Dana Williams was saved by the West Coast and also advances to the quarterfinals.
Macy Kate, Alice Lee, Megan Tibbits, Lisa Punch and Sonnet Simmons were sent home.
The top 13 acts went up against one another to compete for the highest scores. The first seven sang with the wall up. The act with the lowest score up to that point was placed in the “hot seat,” and each successive contestant then sang with the wall down and had to beat that person’s score. Viewers who downloaded the Rising Star app were asked to vote “yes” or “no,” just as they did in the audition round.
The two-hour show aired live on the East Coast, but viewers on the other side of the country had the chance to move an additional contestant on to the quarterfinals.
Host Josh Groban and the Rising Star "experts" -- Kesha, Ludacris and Brad Paisley -- presided over the performances. In a new twist, the "experts’" votes only counted for five percent.
Here are the highlights from Sunday:
Macy Kate led off with P!nk’s “Who Knew,” earning 60 percent of the vote. Ludacris liked the performance, noting Kate “commanded the stage,” but wasn’t perfect on some of the notes. Kesha agreed. Paisley noticed the pitch problems too, but said Macy had “everything else” and could “fine tune it” as she went along. Kate eventually found herself in the “hot seat” and was ultimately sent home.
Shameia Crawford was next on stage, singing “Next to Me” by Emeli Sánde. She collected 76 percent of the vote. Kesha praised the performance, declaring Crawford was “not a background singer anymore.” Ludacris admired Shameia’s nerve for changing the arrangement of the song and making it “unique.” Brad didn’t think it was a perfect performance, but noted Crawford was “fun to watch” and “a star.” Shameia advanced to the quarterfinals. Joshua Peavy took his turn, singing Michael Bolton’s “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” and grabbing 85 percent of the vote. Brad thought the performance started out weak, picked up in the middle and faltered again at the end. However, he quoted a viewer’s tweet which read that taking on a Michael Bolton song was “a feat in itself.” Brad agreed. Kesha thought Peavy’s performance was his best on the show so far. Ludacris noted Joshua does “better and better” with each performance. Joshua moved on to the quarterfinals.
Eighteen-year-old April Lockhart of Warren, New Jersey, performed the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris” and earned 71 percent of the vote. Brad didn’t think it was the best song choice, but commented that Lockhart was a great singer. Kesha agreed the song wasn’t the best choice, but she believed in the singer. Sixteen-year-old Maneepat Molloy performed “Stars” by Grace Potter and The Nocturnals and collected 68 percent of the vote. Kesha voted “yes,” complimenting the singer on her improvement since the auditions, in particular, her command of the stage. She said Molloy could be “a force to be reckoned with.” Ludacris voted "no," noting he loved her voice, but disagreed with Kesha and said Molloy lacked stage presence. Brad voted “yes,” but agreed with Ludacris, acknowledging the teen “had a long way to go.” He recommended she work on her stage presence.
Dana Williams performed “Latch” by Disclosure featuring Sam Smith and earned 60 percent of the vote, including a "yes" from Kesha who said she was a fan of Williams. Kesha was on her feet for the whole performance. Ludacris also voted “yes,” noting the singer “touched a lot of people.” Ludacris said he was “mad at America” for not giving her a higher percentage. Paisley voted "yes,” but went on to say it was the “worst possible song choice” and “didn’t go anywhere.” Williams was in the “hot seat” as the East Coast broadcast ended. She was saved by the West coast and advanced to the quarterfinals.
Chicago's Alice Lee‘s version of Brandi Carlile’s “The Story” earned only 40 percent of the vote and put her in “the hot seat.” Ludacris voted “no,” insisting the performance wasn’t bad, but said he needed to be very critical because of where they are in the competition. Kesha voted "yes," reiterating a comment she made during a past show that she’s “not a dream crusher.” Brad felt the performance needed “a little more rehearsal,” noting it was “pitchy.” Lee was eventually eliminated from the competition.
Jesse Kinch sang with the wall down and raised it with his performance of the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.” He earned 88 percent of the vote. Paisley voted “yes,” declaring he was a “huge fan” of Kinch, jokingly asking the 20-year-old rocker to sign his guitar. Kesha, who also voted “yes,” was left speechless. Ludacris declared, “When music is good, you lose yourself in the moment…I think everyone in this room just lost themselves.”
Megan Tibbits, 26, of Caro, Michigan, sang with the wall down and had a chance to eliminate Macy Kate from the competition. Unfortunately, her risky choice of Marc Broussard’s “Home” collected just 32 percent of the vote. Ludacris complimented her on taking a chance, but called the performance “shaky.” Brad felt the risk didn’t pay off because Tibbits was out of her comfort zone. He said the performance “didn’t connect with the audience.”
Kesha agreed it wasn’t the best song choice. Tibbits ended up in the “hot seat” and was sent packing.
Lisa Punch was the next act to sing with the wall down in an effort to unseat Macy Kate. She chose Beyoncé’s “Girl on Fire,” and fell just shy of doing that with 59 percent. Kesha was disappointed with the vote. Ludacris loved how Punch “fought every second.” Paisley disagreed with Kesha, claiming Lisa’s performance was “pitchy.” He loved the choreography, however. Punch took her place in the “hot seat” and was eventually eliminated.
Audrey Kate Geiger, 24, was next up on stage. Singing with the wall down, her performance of “The Big Bang” by Rock Mafia raised the wall with 65 percent of the vote. Ludacris was “on the fence” before ultimately voting “yes.” He explained that the performance started off slow, but the New York City native “got into it towards the end.” He went on to say the “unique” quality of her voice eventually won him over. Kesha also took a long time to cast a vote, criticizing the song choice, but praising Audrey Kate’s voice. Paisley declared Audrey Kate might be his favorite singer.
Next up was newlywed Austin French, whose version of Alicia Keys’ “If I Ain’t Got You” raised the wall, collecting 88 percent of the vote. Ludacris voted “yes,” even though he felt the performance was a little pitchy. However, he thought French’s overall “presence” and everything he brought to the performance put him over the top. Kesha agreed, noting French just made “made America happy.” Paisley also voted yes.
Sonnet Simmons closed out the evening with Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful.” She failed to raise the wall with just 30 percent of the vote. Brad commented that the performance was just “too pitchy” and wasn’t the right song. He did urge Simmons to stick with it. Ludacris didn’t think it was Simmons’ best performance, noting it was a hard song choice and her nerves seemed to get the better of her.
Kesha told the 34-year-old, “Please don’t let this stop you, please only let this make you stronger.” Simmons was eliminated from the competition.
"Rising Star" continues next Sunday on ABC.