Ada Vox had no intention of letting her American Idol run come to an end last night. And despite failing to garner enough votes to make it into the Top 10, she isn’t going anywhere: In a true AI surprise, the drag queen songstress was saved from elimination by Katy Perry and the other superstar judges.
Vox has emerged as a star this season, wowing audiences and judges alike with her confidence and incredible vocal range, previously on view in a duet of Defying Gravity” with Lea Michele and a haunting cover of Radiohead’s Creep.
But Her Top 14 performance last night, “And I am Telling You” from Broadway’s Dreamgirls, wasn’t quite up to par: Vox struggled to hit and sustain notes that normally give her no trouble—the results, she revealed, of having to fight off both nerves and the lingering effects of an allergic reaction.
“I wanted to make note that I am aware of my much less than perfect vocal,” she wrote in a comment on the YouTube video of her performance. “Not only did my emotions run wild on me, but before the show, I had an allergic reaction to our lunch which made my tongue and throat swell up almost immediately.”
She wryly added, “So that was fun.”
But while the drag anthem wasn’t her most impressive bit of work to date, the song’s opening line, “And I’m telling you, I’m not going,” proved prophetic. As soon as Vox finished, and the crowd could be calmed from the fervor she had just whipped them into, Katy Perry raised her hand to speak. She then removed her earrings, signaling she was about to get serious.
“I don’t know everything,” said the “Bon Appétit” singer. “I’ve got a lot to learn. But I have worked my butt off for over ten years in the spotlight, and these gentlemen on my side [Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan], all of us collectively together… How many years would that be, maybe 60?…I do think we know talent when we see it.”
“So, I would like to say, we’d like to make an executive decision right now,” said Perry, as all three judges pointed for her to go have a seat among the Top 10.
The plan was always for the judges to select four contestants to place in the Top 10, even if they didn’t get enough votes to automatically land them in the elite group. But when it came to Vox, they couldn’t wait and decided she deserved to know her fate right then and there.
“When the Ada moment came, it wasn’t just one person’s idea,” Perry told reporters after the show. “We all looked at each other and we saw the math… ’Excuse us, we’re going to step in now.’ Were we allowed to do that? We found out we were. We messed up the timetable a bit, but you know what it was, we felt so strongly about it, we didn’t have to wait for that vote. Enough was enough and you put your foot down when it’s real. We stand for truth and for justice.”
In the YouTube comment, Vox thanked everyone who voted for her, and encouraged them to continue to do so, promising next week’s performance “will be so much better!”
RuPaul showed love to Vox on Twitter, writing, “SHANTAY, you slay!”
— RuPaul (@RuPaul) April 23, 2018
Ummmmm… That just happened… Thank you, mama Ru! https://t.co/0uGG6V8HlG
— Ada Vox (@AdaVox) April 23, 2018