Marybeth Byrd, the country radio DJ from Arkansas, once again proved her mainstream country chops on Monday night (April 17). The American Idol hopeful delivered a pitch-perfect cover of Lainey Wilson's latest chart-topping hit, "Heart Like a Truck," with a conversational tone and emotional resonance that left the judges and live audience stunned.
Judge Luke Bryan was especially moved by her performance — in one quick shot early on in the clip, he turns to fellow judge Katy Perry, appearing to point out the goosebumps on his forearm.
No wonder: Ever since her audition, Byrd has demonstrated powerful chops in the modern country realm, auditioning with a SteelDrivers deep cut before turning her attention to more mainstream hits, such as the Carrie Underwood cover she brought to the Showstoppers Round.
On Monday night Byrd hit the sweet spot between her love of roots and her penchant for mainstream flash and flair, throwing down a raspy, conversational interpretation of "Heart Like a Truck"'s lyrics and hitting the rafter-raising high notes of the song's emotional climax.
The most recent Idol episodes found the Top 26 performing from the oceanfront stage of Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Hawaii. That idyllic setting also marked the first round of live voting for Season 21. Monday night marked the completion of performances from all 26 contenders still in the game.
Next week, the results of the fan vote will be revealed, and three contestants will be sent home as Idol continues to whittle down its list of hopefuls and move towards crowning a new champion.
American Idol airs on Sunday and Monday nights at 8PM on ABC.
PICTURES: See Inside Carrie Underwood's Beautiful Post-'American Idol' Home
Carrie Underwood invested her money wisely after winning American Idol in 2005. One of her first big purchases was a 3,099-square-foot home in the well-to-do Nashville suburb of Franklin, Tenn. Underwood paid $384,000 for a luxurious 3-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom stone and stucco home in a private gated community.
The house features a library, a vaulted ceiling and lovely amenities throughout, but while it's very nice, it's certainly not the kind of home you'd picture for a budding country superstar. Underwood wound up being a huge success right out of the gate with her debut album, Some Hearts, and she sold the home in Franklin for $372,500 in 2007, when she purchased the Brentwood mansion that she would later share with her husband, Mike Fisher.
PICTURES: 'American Idol' Producers Selling Spectacular $22 Million California Winery
American Idol producers Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick also have a longtime wine business, and they are selling their spectacular California winery for $22 million. Their stunning winery, Villa San-Juliette, is located near Paso Robles, Calif. According to the listing, the luxury 160-acre estate includes two Tuscan-style residential villas, pool, a tasting room and state-of-the-art vineyards and winery facilities. There are also extensive lush lawns with dazzling views in every direction.
Country 'American Idol' Stars Who Disappeared
We cheered for them. We voted for them. We followed them. Then, these seven American Idol stars vanished. Or, at least it seems like it.
What happened to some of country music's best American Idol contestants over the last 20 years? This list of country American Idol stars who disappeared includes a winner, a runner-up and a third place finisher, plus several early cuts who enjoyed radio success before losing touch with fans.