Caleb Kennedy Rocks ‘American Idol’ Disney Night With a ‘Cars’ Cover [Watch]
The Top 10 American Idol contestants for Season 19 headed to Florida's Disney World for the show's Disney-themed night on Sunday (May 2), performing song selections from some of the most beloved Disney movies of all time.
One of the show's resident country-leaning contestants, Caleb Kennedy, performed the country-rock-flavored "Real Gone," from the soundtrack of the 2006 movie Cars. The song was co-written and performed for the soundtrack by Sheryl Crow, and it became the second single from the Cars soundtrack album. Billy Ray Cyrus subsequently covered "Real Gone," including it on his 2009 album Back to Tennessee as well as contributing his rendition to the 2008 compilation album Country Sings Disney.
Kennedy used his performance to develop his artistic individuality and connect with the judges and audience with a classic country voice that has leant itself easily to both iconic covers and original songs during the season. Kennedy's country chops have never been in doubt, but the show's judges have encouraged him to work on establishing his unique identity as an artist over the course of the season's episodes.
After his Disney Night performance, however, judges Katy Perry, Luke Bryan and Lionel Richie seemed impressed by the work the young performer had been putting into his stage presence. Richie noted that Kennedy "actually gave us a smile," while Bryan said that he walked onstage to perform "Real Gone" with a "total Caleb-the-artist look."
Kennedy's performance happened early on in Sunday night's episode, right after another big announcement on the show: Arthur Gunn, the runner-up from Idol's 2020 season, has been fan-voted to return to the show this year.
Gunn was among the former contestants giving "comeback" performances during the April 18 episode of Idol. Those who watched him during Season 18 may remember Gunn as the Nepalese performer who came to America after high school and landed in Wichita, Kan., where he picked up a love for bluegrass and country music. His versions of hits by Bob Dylan and Creedence Clearwater Revival so impressed the judges, in fact, that Bryan offered Gunn an opening spot on a show he had coming up.
While Gunn ultimately finished second last time around, he'll get another chance to win the competition during Season 19. After Disney Night, American Idol will continue on Sunday (May 9) with a Mother's Day-themed episode.
American Idol airs on Sunday nights at 8PM ET on ABC.
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