Sonika Vaid has advanced to the top 10 round of American Idol. The 20-year-old Indian-American student survived a brutal cut on the reality singing competition this week, as the final 14 contestants were whittled down to 10 based on votes from the American public.
Immediately after the eliminations, the singers were tasked to perform a solo number. Vaid covered Evanescence's rock ballad Bring Me to Life, a performance warmly received by the judging panel.
“Absolutely killer song choice — it had all the right drama,” said Keith Urban. “Everything played to your strengths.”
Jennifer Lopez agreed, saying: “Baby, you’re dangerous — you’re dangerous — because you have such an amazing voice. If you wake up in this competition, we have real, real competition in our hands this year.”
This week's guest judge was Kelly Clarkson, who won the first season of American Idol back in 2002. She told Vaid, "Most singers are pitchy — you're never pitchy. That's an amazing accomplishment."
A hard-to-impress Harry Connick Jr was surprised that the usually reserved Vaid managed to put on a show: “I love that you were showing us a different kind of angst and passion that we haven’t seen yet. I thought it was great. That was very, very smart.”
Vaid and her parents, who both emigrated to the United States from India, are based in Massachusetts. During Vaid’s performance, her mother Anna was seen on camera watching tearfully in the audience.
American Idol's latest season is its 15th and final edition. In the programme's history, Vaid is only the third contestant of South Asian origin who has reached the final rounds of the competition.
The current front-runners are Dalton Rapattoni, Mackenzie Bourg and La'Porsha Renae, who received a standing ovation from the panel after a stirring rendition of Rihanna's pop hit Diamonds.