American Idol Judges Open Up About Abi Carter’s Stunning Performance of Adele’s ‘Hello’


Abi Carter performance of Adele‘s “Hello” had American Idol viewers in awe.

On Sunday, May 5, the judges opened up to PEOPLE in a group interview after the live show and raved about Carter’s captivating performance on the singing competition show.

“That was her best. That was her best in her best. And of course I’m sitting there going, is that, ‘Hello’? Is that ‘Hello’? That’s Adele,” Lionel Richie, 74, says. “She turned that song into her song. Every whisper. She’s the only lady I know that can make a whisper a note.”

He continues, “It’s not about volume, it’s about expression. She’s got it and might fool around here to win this thing. It depends on how it goes, but I mean, that’s how I feel. She’s that strong and getting stronger.”

Abi Carter on American Idol.

Disney/Eric McCandless via Getty Images

On Sunday, the top seven contestants took the stage to perform their favorite dance songs and an Adele song. Carter first put on an energetic performance of Fall Out Boy‘s “Light ‘Em Up” before stripping it back for her performance of “Hello” on the piano.

“That was angelic frequency right there,” Katy Perry, 39, said after her performance. “It was beyond. It was on another level.”

Reflecting on the night, Luke Bryan, 47, agreed that Carter was a standout.

“The Abi moment was pretty powerful because it really — in her audition, she really gave us that character, the whole audition. And she hasn’t necessarily gotten all the way back to that until tonight,” he says after the show.

Adding, “Tonight from the second she started on piano until she finished was pretty perfect; was perfection.”

Abi Carter on American Idol.

Disney/Eric McCandless via Getty Images

After the show, Carter revealed that she felt the nerves going in — but knew she needed to do the British singer justice.

“I feel like Adele is modern-day Whitney Houston. It’s really hard to psyche yourself up to sing one of her songs,” Abi, 21, said after the show.

“I feel like people receive it the same way people receive Whitney Houston. You can’t do this amazing singer unless you do it amazingly. So there was a lot of pressure,” she concludes.

Carter, Emmy Russell, Will Mosley, Jack Blocker and Triston Harper made the top five and are headed to Disney World. Next week, they will take the stage to perform two Disney songs of their choice.

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